Microsoft was going to ship Internet Explorer 10 with Do Not Track turned on by default. The industry reacted negatively. As a result, IE 10 will not ship with Do Not Track turned on by default.

The key principle is:

“An ordinary user agent MUST NOT send a Tracking Preference signal without a user’s explicit consent.”


If a browser is sending out a do not track signal by default, it is argued, then the signal becomes meaningless and will be disregarded, as the user didn’t actually opt out of tracking. They didn’t make that choice.

Why isn’t Do Not Track turned on by default?

The HTTP cookie has been turned on by default since 1994, when Lou, an engineer at Netscape, put it in a release. He wanted to know how many visits to the website had been there before.

The browser has used cookies by default since before most people got onto the Internet.

It’s baked into how the Internet works.


The HTTP cookie is a tool, just a like scissors. As such, it isn’t just limited to cutting paper.

That cookie is used to speed your login process, remembers what’s in your cart after your kids interrupt you during a purchase, and, in some instances, what version of the website you’re used to.

It’s used by ad servers to record what the browser has loaded which ads, in which sequence and when. Dollar for dollar, that’s the primary use.

It’s mistakenly believed to represent individual people (it isn’t) in analytical measurement. And, it’s how the worth of a few people is judged.

Poor uses of the HTTP cookie include examining your cache to determine which websites you have previously visited, and hacks that give you illusion that you’re clearing your cookies.

Choice and After

Fundamentally, the display / ad targeting advertising industry is long overdue for a disruption. Based on the reaction to IE 10, I’d say that it’s unlikely to come from within.


I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at