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[ NNSquad ] Re: Yahoo will ignore Do Not Track for IE10 users

On Oct 27, 2012, at 3:16 PM, Barry Gold wrote:

> On 10/27/2012 5:14 AM, Jerry Leichter wrote:
>> This is the right way to deal with varying browser capabilities, too.  Then browser ID strings can fade away, having outlived any useful purpose.
> Except... what do you do when a terminal (or a browser) says that it supports capability X, but does something completely non-standard with it?
First order response:  Believe the terminal/browser.  If it's screwed up, that's on the provider of the terminal/browser; let the market deal with its maker.

Second order response:  OK, sometimes you can't be quite so pure, and you have to hold your nose and support crap, because ultimately you're supporting, not the crap, but your customers.  The difficulty is if you let this become the default mode of operation, the crap just keeps piling up.  Making this tradeoff is extremely difficult.

> That's the situation with IE10: it presents the "Do not track" header by default, when the standard says that "Do not track" shall be off by default.
I can't seem to find earlier versions of the standard - you'd think that would be easy - but a W3C Draft Document for October 2 of this year - well into the ongoing debate (http://www.w3.org/TR/tracking-dnt/#dfn-enabled), is still ambiguous:
"A user agent MUST have a default tracking preference of unset (not enabled) unless a specific tracking preference is implied by the decision to use that agent."

It may say "MUST [be] unset" - but that's "unless a specific tracking preference is implied by the decision to use that agent."  Microsoft could - and will - argue that deciding to use IE10 - which has a well-publicized out-of-the box DNT setting  - implies "a specific tracking preference", which is "on".  You may not like Microsoft's interpretation, but the fault lies in a badly written standard.  Then again, since ultimately the standard says nothing at all about what "not tracking" actually *means* anyway - it ultimately doesn't matter.

> I'm not sure just what M$oft thinks they are doing here. I can't imagine what commercial value M$ thinks they will gain from making the web less useful.
As I read it, they are looking for a way to make IE interesting again.  It's getting harder and harder to distinguish browsers from each other.  Non-standard extensions - what sold IE6 - are verboten.  Support for standards is at such a high level these days across all the widely-used browsers that no one but a few standards hackers care.  Chrome made performance a selling point, and at first it was way out front - but it set off a competitive race that's now close enough to a tie that for virtually all people virtually all of the time, it really doesn't matter.

So - Microsoft has seized on "we're out there protecting *your privacy*" as a selling point.  It's actually quite a clever move, aimed squarely at Google - they are playing on the suspicion people have of Google (a suspicion Microsoft, to a large degree, bought and paid for):  See, Google wants all *your* data so that they can sell *you* to their advertisers.  Chrome?  *Google's* browser?  You don't think *Google* software is going to protect you from advertisers?  Come back home to Microsoft - we'll keep you safe.

> ...If I were running a commercial website, I might simply refuse to serve content to IE10.  That would make IE10 a huge success... NOT!
See "second order response" above.  IE10 will represent a sizable chunk of the browser population.  You don't win favor with your customers by refusing to talk to them.  Most of them don't know what a browser *is*, or how to change their browser - they just know your site doesn't work, and they go elsewhere.

                                                        -- Jerry

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