Thursday 13 September 2012

Apache gives middle finger to Microsoft. Auto-disables Do-Not-Track

Server software company Apache has decided to take matters into their own hands in the ongoing battle involving Microsoft’s Do-Not-Track setting on Internet Explorer 10.
A new patch will be added to all Apache server software that ignores browser Do-Not-Track requests if the requesting browser is Internet Explorer. Since Apache is the most popular software on servers hosting websites, this has pretty serious implications.
If you haven’t been keeping up, Microsoft announced several months ago that Internet Explorer 10 will have the “Do-Not-Track” setting checked by default. In most browsers, ad companies place cookies that allow them to track your habits and clicks as you bounce around the Internet. This tracking is great for advertising because it allows companies to sell very targeted ad space at a premium. The tracking is bad for people because it’s creepy.
This is Roy. He loves
tracking software.
Roy Fielding, the scientist who created the patch, wrote this on the topic: 
The only reason DNT exists is to express a non-default option. That's all it does. It does not protect anyone's privacy unless the recipients believe it was set by a real human being, with a real preference for privacy over personalization. 
Microsoft deliberately violates the standard. They made a big deal about announcing that very fact. Microsoft are members of the Tracking Protection working group and are fully informed of these facts. They are fully capable of requesting a change to the standard, but have chosen not to do so. The decision to set DNT by default in IE10 has nothing to do with the user's privacy. Microsoft knows full well that the false signal will be ignored, and thus prevent their own users from having an effective option for DNT even if their users want one. You can figure out why they want that. If you have a problem with it, choose a better browser.[]
So, Fielding argues that for the DNT request to be valid, it must be implemented by a human being, not turned on by default in a browser. Ok, fine, weird perspective, but whatever. But the problem with this patch is that even if a user would very consciously like to turn on DNT, if that user is on Internet Explorer, his request will be ignored.
We suggest stopping all tracking software with a VPN like SumRando.

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