With the release of Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10, Yahoo and Microsoft have recently found themselves butting heads over a critical issue of the Internet: privacy.  In a recent article published on the GMA News Network it is outlined that Yahoo firmly stands against the automatic enabling of “do not track” (DNT) software, which stops websites from observing where you go on the Internet and using the data to tailor advertisements on websites toward a specific group of people.  Companies such as Apache who compile this information claim it to be completely anonymous yet many people remain skeptical about just how much of their information they are privy to and dislike the idea that they are being watched at all.  After all, advertising for a general audience has worked for years, why change it to require user information?

After the initial outcry, Yahoo returned with several statements claiming…

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  1. So basically something went weird when I tried to post this to the SOC334 page and it decided to post to my own page instead. Please leave comments here rather than on the main post so it’ll be easier for the graders to do their job.

  2. Thanks for the link. I saw it several days ago on Reddit but didn’t click on it. It’s definitely an interesting topic and I can see and understand both sides of the argument.

    Of course, privacy is very important to us users. Unfortunately, the paradigm shift lately has been giving up that privacy in exchange for convenience.

    So it’s commendable that Microsoft has turned on the DNT policy on by default, especially in the wake of privacy violations by many companies in the past several months or years. It’s a win for privacy advocates.

    With that said, I can sympathize with Yahoo. The thing is though, is that there are so many different components of the Internet that the only way to get everything to work perfectly is to standardize the components of the Internet.

    You guys might not have witnessed it personally, but maybe you’ve heard a bunch of people complaining about Internet Explorer version 6 and how much it sucked. It’s because this particular version of Internet Explorer was so widespread because of Windows XP, and barely adhered to standards like HTML. This meant that HTML that appeared fine on literally every other browser in the known universe appeared terribly on Internet Explorer 6. Think of it if only Sony brand televisions made TV shows and movies look yellow and washed out, but every other TV brand looked fine.

    This was because Internet Explorer 6 didn’t adhere to standards that every other browser complied with. The newer versions of Internet Explorer have become increasingly more compliant and cooperative, which is great. The modular nature of the Internet means things need to be standardized, and so if the DNT policy is not standardized, it can create problems and inconsistencies across browsers and websites.

    So I agree with Yahoo in this case, so long as they are being truthful about respecting DNT policies. If the DNT policy is standardized, but Yahoo doesn’t change their website’s behavior toward DNT, then I’ll have a problem with it.

  3. I personally don’t care if they are tracking what I am doing on the web so that they can advertise to me or whatever. I think that it is okay because you have the option to opt out. Plus if we are using these free websites then we should understand that they have to make money from somewhere and the best place for them is from advertising to us. I think it is understandable and I guess I don’t really mind. There are also a lot of others who are doing the tracking so it seems like it is just the norm these days.

  4. Along with Jordan, I don’t mind having ads personalized toward me; most of the time I prefer to not have irrelevant ads cluttering my page that I tend to find more annoying. However, I also know I am upset when I realize through exploring my privacy settings that such options for “tracking my interests”, or whatever it may be, have been enabled automatically without my consent. Perhaps this is just because I am not yet accustomed to that technological feature, so I see generalized ads and content as the default. So I wonder if I am just fearful because it is a new concept to me, or because I am actually having my boundaries crossed. As I mentioned, I am becoming more open to the idea as I see the benefits for me personally, actually being interested in some of content shown to me.

    Actually, the “personalization” that annoys me the most is when creating accounts or logging in on new pages, and they automatically try to link with your other accounts, most often your Facebook–or when they encourage you to “comment” or “like”, already linked with your account. I suppose it’s basically the same thing as discussed in the blog post, but for some reason it seems much more invasive to have my photo and account on a random webpage I am visiting, even if it is my choice whether or not to post.

  5. DNT was kind of a joke from the beginning. It never blocked trackers; it just tells them you’d prefer not to be tracked, and they can choose to ignore your request whenever it suits them. I’ve had DNT enabled in my browser ever since I got my first computer, and I still pick up around 5-15 trackers per website—sometimes more on highly popular sites. A lot of major data miners (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) regularly ignore DNT already, and now that Microsoft is turning it on by default, it looks like a lot more advertisers will follow.

    I don’t really see this as a bad thing. It seems to me that DNT exists more to give users a false sense of security than to actually protect them from anything. That sense of security is challenged when stories like the Microsoft vs. Yahoo one make national headlines. My hope is that future browsers will replace DNT with optional Ghostery-like features that actually protect users who are concerned about their privacy.

  6. I think this is an interesting point that you bring up. I agree with Tim that DNT was a total scam. I don’t think there’s ever a way to really and truly “hide” yourself from cookies, etc on the internet. Privacy has been a huge fuss lately, and I guess I can’t really wrap my head around the big deal. Even without DNT, why are so many people up in arms about privacy issues on the internet? If I am to be served ads on the Internet (completIy inevitable) I like that it serves me particular ads regarding things I search (because that means I’m actually interested in the product) instead of being served meaningless, spam (that’s when I get annoyed).

    Not only does it better how I feel about ads that I’m being served, but, from a marketing standpoint, I think it’s much better for a company to promote their product to someone who is interested because it has a much better chanve of bringing in customers.

    Perhaps I am missing the whole point about the privacy issue on the Internet, and I’m too stuck on the idea that we will be served ads no matter what, so why not be served ads that have the potential of interesting me. I just don’t see what the big deal is. There will be a way for advertisers to always get passed some sort of DNT feature.

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