Microsoft Web privacy gets W3C seal of approval

Microsoft gets support from the W3C for its approach to implementing a do-not-track solution for Web surfing.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has given Microsoft's proposal for a standard protecting consumer privacy the seal of approval. Acceptance by W3C -- the governing body responsible for HTML5 -- is a significant hurdle for Microsoft as it works to give users more control over their own online privacy and the tools necessary to block unwanted Web tracking.

Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President, Internet Explorer, acknowledges that online privacy is a high priority for consumers and governments around the world. Microsoft recently introduced Tracking Protection with the release candidate (RC) for Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) -- which allows users to opt-out of online tracking, and block the content that does the tracking.

Hachamovitch says, "Microsoft's privacy submission to the W3C ensures that Tracking Protection is fully interoperable and can be used universally. Microsoft believes that all customers should have the opportunity to control their online experience."

A post on Microsoft's IEBlog recognizes the value of the HTTP header approach for notifying compliant sites of a user's preferences, but adds, "Enabling consumers merely to express their intent to not be tracked is just not sufficient. It's a subset of what effective tracking protection should do. IE9's Tracking Protection also enables consumers to block the content that does the tracking."

The approach seems to combine the tracking lists approach originally developed by Microsoft with some variation of the HTTP header do-not-track solution proposed by Mozilla and embraced by the FTC -- which originated the push for a universal do-not-track solution in the first place.

Ashkan Soltani, a researcher and consultant focused on privacy, security, and behavioral economics, commented, "I think it's a great move and demonstrates recognition by Microsoft that for this to work, you want both technology and policy to work in tandem."

Soltani explains, "You want technical mechanisms like the IE9 Tracking Protection Lists that attempt to provide some level of protections for consumers. However there will always be ways to circumvent these mechanisms, much like we've seen with Flash cookies, CSS history, or DNS masquerading (the tracking 'arms race' so to speak). This is where the header will hopefully come in and provide a reliable signal from consumers about tracking."

Christopher Soghoian, Graduate Fellow, Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, Indiana University, notes the simple irony of the hybrid approach. "It is very interesting that Microsoft has now embraced the HTTP Header that Mozilla pioneered."

Regardless of the browser wars aspect of the competing solutions, there seems to be consensus on the problem itself. For Microsoft, having the W3C on its side will go a long way toward developing a standard approach that can be embraced on a broader scale.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityprivacyMicrosoftinternetWorld Wide Web Consortiumonline privacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?