IE10's DNT default settings

Many people seem to misunderstand Do Not Track and its place in the Internet's ecosystem, and hence believe that Microsoft turning DNT on by default in IE10 will actually help individuals concerned about privacy.

DNT is not an enforced standard, and if too many people have it on, analytics and advertising firms are simply going to ignore the DNT flag, causing ALL users to lose out on privacy.


Let me illustrate this with an analogy:

We have a bunch of homeless guys that need shelter from regular hurricanes. There are many shelters. One of them puts up a Do Not Enter sign.
The homeless guys acknowledge the sign because there are many other shelters to take refuge in, so they do not enter that shelter.
However, this construction company suddenly builds Do Not Enter signs on nearly all the shelters. What do the homeless guys do?
Obviously they ignore the Do Not Enter signs because there are not enough shelters without the signs to take refuge in!
And the Do Not Enter sign will mean nothing.

And after translation:

We have a bunch of advertising and analytics firms that need profits. There are many Internet users. One of them activates the Do Not Track flag.
The advertising and analytics firms acknowledge the flag because there are many other users to mine data from, so they do not track that Internet user.
However, this Microsoft suddenly activates Do Not Track flags on nearly all the Internet users. What do the advertising and analytics firms do?
Obviously they ignore the Do Not Track flag because there are not enough Internet users without the flags to mine data from!

And the Do Not Track flag will mean nothing.


That's kind of the nature of a non-mandated standard like Do Not Track. It was meant to provide a higher level of privacy for users that are more conscious of privacy than the average consumer.

Companies are losing out of revenue by voluntarily adopting the Do Not Track standard, and if the lost profits from adopting this is too high, they are simply going to abandon it.

But wouldn't this mean that by using DNT with its intended purpose, the average consumer would be sacrificing more privacy so that the privacy-conscious one can keep theirs? Exactly! Money doesn't come from nowhere, and companies are gonna have to make that moolah one way or another.

For some people to thrive, others must suffer. I believe that those people who did not take the effort to activate DNT should not be rewarded with the benefits it confers, especially if it means diluting the benefits of those who took the effort to activate DNT.

And that is why I disapprove of Microsoft's default DNT settings.