The Association of National Advertisers is asking Microsoft to reconsider its decision to activate do-not-track by default in Internet Explorer 10.
ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice said on Monday that the software giant's move will undercut online advertising and undermine the voluntary self-regulatory program.
“It is time that Microsoft realign with the broader business community and provide choice to consumers, which is why ANA’s Board of Directors has come together to emphatically denounce this ill-considered approach," he stated.
Microsoft said in May it would activate do-not-track headers in Internet Explorer 10 by default. In August, the company clarified that it will turn the setting on by default for users who choose "express settings" during the Windows 8 installation process.
When activated, a do-not-track header sends a signal that users don't want to be tracked as they surf the Web. But the signals don't actually block tracking. Instead, it's up to ad networks and publishers to react to the signals.
Microsoft's move sparked criticism from the ad industry and Federal Trade Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch. Earlier this year, the self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance said members won't be required to honor do-not-track signals set to "on" by default. This summer, Apache developer Roy Fielding went so far as to write a "patch" that negates a do-not-track command from IE10.
But advocates for consumers argue that any plan to systematically ignore all IE10 do-not-track headers will leave users of that browser without a way to set a universal do-not-track command.
The Federal Trade Commission has called for the industry to develop a way for consumers to easily opt out of receiving targeted ads, as well as many forms of data collection. Browser-based headers are one mechanism for that type of universal opt-out tool. But the FTC has never called for a do-not-track default setting.