Yahoo has announced today that they are changing their stance on the Do Not Track browser privacy standard. In fact, Yahoo will no longer recognize a users' Do Not Track setting across any of its services, including Yahoo Search. This type of tracking protection is intended to prevent your browsing information from being sent to third-party content providers on websites you visit.
"As of today, web browser Do Not Track settings will no longer be enabled on Yahoo. As the first major tech company to implement Do Not Track, we’ve been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry," Yahoo stated.
Google already ignores this setting, as it relies on collecting browsing data to sell targeted ads.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has supported this setting, especially with Internet Explorer. Basically, when Do Not Track is turned on, Internet Explorer will send a Do Not Track request to the sites you visit and to the third parties whose content is hosted on those sites to let the sites know that you would prefer not to be tracked. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 11 browser offers this option and it is enabled automatically. Microsoft has had this setting enabled by default since Internet Explorer 10.
However, as Microsoft once noted, this setting is only the beginning towards an increased control over user privacy. "We designed this functionality as a good start to enable consumer choice and protection from potential tracking. We provide a tool in the browser, and consumers choose how to use it. As with everything on the web, we expect it to evolve over time especially as the broader privacy dialog continues. We’re communicating about it now as part of our transparency in the software development process," Microsoft explained in an official blog post.
The Do Not Track setting is only useful if websites and advertisers honor it. Or they can completely ignore it, rendering it pointless to have it enabled. Microsoft has had a concern over online privacy for years and Yahoo's move today only solidifies the fact that you should be using Bing for your search needs rather than Yahoo. But, if Yahoo is your cup of tea, fear not, as Yahoo stated it would continue to offer tools for managing user privacy - you just wont be able to utilize the Do Not Track setting.