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Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Comments on Microsoft Decision to Embed Do Not Track in IE 10 Set “on” by Default

June 1, 2012 - New York, NY—The Digital Advertising Alliance, (DAA), a coalition of the nation’s leading media and marketing trade associations and companies, raised concern today about Microsoft’s decision to embed Do Not Track (DNT) functionality as a default setting in version 10 of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

Over the last three and a half years, the DAA has worked with a broad set of stakeholders with significant input from businesses, consumers, and policy makers to develop a program governing the responsible collection and use of web viewing data. The DAA has championed a balanced approach that accommodates both consumers’ privacy expectations and the ability of online products and services providers to provide a sustainable business model for these services while enabling them to continue innovating with new services.  Consumers enjoy the diverse range of Web sites and services they get at no charge thanks to relevant advertising.  Recognizing that DAA members must also provide consumers with appropriate transparency and clear choices, it has spearheaded the self-regulatory process, in which Microsoft has been an active participant since its inception.

The DAA’s work culminated in an event in February at the White House where the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the Secretary of Commerce and members of the White House publicly praised the DAA’s cross-industry initiative. At that event, the DAA committed to honor browser settings that enable the use of data to continue to benefit consumers and the economy, while at the same time providing consumers with the ability to make their own choice about the collection and use of data about them.  The overwhelming majority of the advertising ecosystem follows the DAA program today, and consumers have responded favorably to the increased transparency it has enabled.  The Internet economy is fueling Internet growth and innovation while providing ongoing benefits to consumers.

“Advertising has always been about connecting consumers to products and services that are likely of interest to them,” said DAA General Counsel Stu Ingis.  “While new Web technologies deliver more relevant advertising to consumers, comprehensive industry self-regulation is also providing consumers with meaningful choices about the collection of their data.  The Administration and FTC have praised these efforts. Today’s technology announcement, however, threatens to undermine that balance, limiting the availability and diversity of Internet content and services for consumers.”

Microsoft’s technology announcement appears to include requirements that are inconsistent with the consensus achieved over the appropriate standards for collecting and using web viewing data (and which today are enforced by strong self-regulation). The DAA is very concerned that this unilateral decision by one browser maker - made without consultation within the self-regulatory process - may ultimately narrow the scope of consumer choices, undercut thriving business models, and reduce the availability and diversity of the Internet products and services that millions of American consumers currently enjoy at no charge. The resulting marketplace confusion will not benefit consumers, and will profoundly impact the broad array of advertising-supported services they currently enjoy.

For more information about the Digital Advertising Alliance, visit http://www.aboutads.info.

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