Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Dings “Do Not Track” Default (And Search Partner Microsoft)

In a post today on its policy blog, Yahoo took aim at Microsoft’s controversial “Do Not Track” default in its Internet Explorer 10 browser.

Said Yahoo in a post titled “In Support of Personal Experience”:

“Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users’ direction. In our view, this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them. It basically means that the DNT signal from IE10 doesn’t express user intent.”

Thus, Yahoo “will not recognize IE10’s default DNT signal on Yahoo! properties at this time.”

Such a move should make Yahoo very popular with advertisers, most of which are publicly and privately decrying the Microsoft effort for their browser having advertising targeting and tracking turned off by default.

In fact, Yahoo’s statement of no-default-respect pretty much tracks on what the Digital Advertising Alliance, which represents thousands of major marketers, said recently, as well as the Association of National Advertisers.

Both those groups and many others are seeking to kill DNT.

According to sources, the impetus for the Yahoo decision was CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Google exec.

Interestingly, Google recently added DNT support to the latest version of its increasingly popular Chrome browser developer build.

And the third major browser, Mozilla’s Firefox, also offers a DNT product as a key feature.

Right now, Mayer is in discussions with the software giant about improving the weak results of its search advertising partnership, too. This should make those talks much more interesting.

In fact, in a longer privacy post today, titled “Privacy and Technology in Balance,” Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith noted:

“Just because the signal is turned on doesn’t mean that a consumer wants no services that involve tracking. It means instead that consumers are empowered to make their own choices, including selecting services that involve tracking from advertisers and ad networks they trust.”

Here’s the whole post, and here is a really good New York Times piece on the controversy, including talks taking place via an international group working on global DNT standards, called the World Wide Web Consortium:

In Support of a Personalized User Experience

Friday, October 26th, 2012

At Yahoo!, we aspire to make the world’s daily habits more inspiring and entertaining. Our users have come to expect a personalized Yahoo! experience tailor-made for their lives — whether they’re checking local weather, sports scores, stock quotes, daily news, or viewing ads on our site. We fundamentally believe that the online experience is better when it is personalized.

That said, we also believe that there should be an easy and transparent way for users to express their privacy preferences to Yahoo!. That’s why we offer our own tools and resources such as Ad Interest Manager, to give users more control over personalized advertising on Yahoo!, and why we participate in industry-wide programs such as AdChoices, which allows users to learn why they’ve been shown an ad.

Yahoo! has been working with our partners in the Internet industry to come up with a standard that allows users to opt out of certain website analytics and ad targeting. In principle, we support “Do Not Track” (DNT). Unfortunately, because discussions have not yet resulted in a final standard for how to implement DNT, the current DNT signal can easily be abused. Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users’ direction. In our view, this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them. It basically means that the DNT signal from IE10 doesn’t express user intent.

Ultimately, we believe that DNT must map to user intent — not to the intent of one browser creator, plug-in writer, or third-party software service. Therefore, although Yahoo! will continue to offer Ad Interest Manager and other tools, we will not recognize IE10′s default DNT signal on Yahoo! properties at this time.

Yahoo! is committed to working with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to reach a DNT standard that both satisfies user expectations and provides the best Internet experience possible. We will closely evaluate our support for DNT as the industry makes progress in reaching a meaningful, transparent standard to promote choice, reduce signal abuse, and deliver great personalized experiences for our users.


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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post