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Yahoo and Microsoft Tiff Underlines DNT’s Failure

One of the biggest issues of modern day online privacy is Microsoft’s decision to enable the ‘do not track’ feature by default, in its Internet Explorer 10 browser. This means that even if you do not enable the stop cookies/tracking online option, it will be turned on when you use Internet Explorer 10. A lot of companies have been miffed by this move mainly because tracking is an integral part of online advertising. Almost all the major IT companies including Yahoo and Google generate a huge chunk of their total revenue from advertising annually.

Pre-enabling of the ‘Do Not Track’ flag will not only limit the revenue generated  but will also force them to give up other big earning from devising advertising strategies, click to pay advertising, etc. This is the reason why Yahoo has publicly proclaimed that it will ignore the ‘Do Not Track’ flag on the browsers and proceed.

Yahoo’s Reaction to Microsoft ‘Do Not Track’ Feature

According to a press release by Yahoo, the company will not pay heed to the ‘do not track’ flag on browsers and continue to go about its business assuming that the feature is not activated. When ‘do not track’ is enabled on the browsers, a flag is enabled and instructs servers that the user does not want to be tracked. All major servers honor this request and refrain from tracking the users but that does not mean that the servers can be reprogrammed to track. It is just like flipping a switch. Once Yahoo starts ignoring the ‘do not track’ flag and tracking people, it is only a matter of time before other companies also follow the trend. The stakes are too high to just honor privacy rights, which companies don’t rate too highly.

What Is Yahoo’s Mistake in This?

By deciding to ignore the ‘do not track’ flag of the users and going about gathering tracking information, Yahoo is actually overlooking the preferences of the common man. This means that even if a user has deliberately switched on the ‘do not track’ feature on their browsers, they are not safe from online tracking. Yahoo, and subsequently other companies, will just ignore the flag as if it does not exist and go about tracking you. However, the trends are different.

A leading online security company conducted a survey on the common man’s take on the ‘do not track’ feature. Surprisingly, the survey revealed that more than 78% of the users wanted the feature to be enabled by default. This was in contrast to Yahoo’s take on DNT where it had assumed that not everyone wanted the feature to be enabled.

‘Do Not Track’ Not the Standard Anymore

Keeping all these developments in mind, we can safely assume that ‘do not track’ feature cannot be trusted to protect our online privacy. Once we have ascertained that companies can indeed ignore the flag and doing so is not legally wrong either, the whole concept of DNT loses its significance.

What Is The Alternate Solution?

Now that DNT is all but obsolete, you will have to start looking at other tools available on the internet to protect your online privacy. A relatively simple solution would be to download and install some of the browser add-ons that are custom designed to protect your online privacy. Each browser has its own do not track add-on or extension and a simple internet search will give you the results. Then there are more elaborate and secure solutions like VPNs and proxy servers. These require a level of understanding to be used. If you think you are up for it, you can definitely use them.

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