A little more than a month ago Apache went head to head with Microsoft over the choice of do not track (DNT) in Internet Explorer 10. Apache has now backed down and provides the code to ignore DNT as a commented option in its config files.
On Friday Yahoo! decided it was time to take over the resistance to DNT by announcing it would now ignore Internet Explorer 10 users’ choices to not be tracked on grounds that it believes its users’ experience is “better when it is personalized.”
There are several problems with their argument.
- The argument that Yahoo! users expect a personalized experience has nothing whatsoever to do with advertisers tracking users. No different than with Microsoft, Google or Facebook, the personalized experience is only expected by users who have logged into the service.
- Users of Internet Explorer 10 have expressed their preference to not be tracked. The do not track setting is clearly and explicitly stated during installation and is a clear expression of the user’s choice to not be tracked.
- The argument is hollow and isn’t open and honest. Yahoo! wants to provide advertisers the ability to target its users to generate revenue.
Why not be open and suggest to users that providing great financial, news, sports and entertainment content requires advertising partners?
The crux of the matter is whether Internet Explorer 10 is requiring users to choose a tracking preference. Considering the options presented during installation, this should be obvious.
Yahoo! and other organizations that depend upon advertising revenue need to find a balance between targeted ads and respect for user privacy. If I log into their services I expect personalized weather, sports, stock and targeted advertising.
If I simply click a link that leads to a Yahoo! asset, they should respect my choice, do not track, and present ads that may not be tailored, but still support Yahoo’s valuable services.
Every day I receive non-targeted ads in my physical mailbox. Pizzas, manicures and concerts from the latest bands. Clearly this generates revenue and costs significantly more than delivering a banner ad.
I am not a piece of meat to be sent to market. Respect my choices and adapt your business model. I am happy to buy products and happy to pay for the services I receive.
Proof? Follow me on App.Net. If you care about your privacy, insist that companies honor your preferences and don’t patronize those who don’t.
And to Yahoo!: If you want to talk big about privacy, put your money where your mouth is. I don’t begrudge you your methods, but respect my choices. Microsoft fairly presents a choice and you need to honor it or become irrelevant.