For anyone who has struggled to use the privacy settings in Internet Explorer, it’s probably not a surprise that, as the Wall Street Journal is reporting, Microsoft compromised consumer privacy choices in the interest of advertising revenue and advertiser relationships.
What’s missing from the Journal’s reporting is a broader point, which is that the other major browser makers, Firefox and Chrome, have also made the same compromises. It’s a fact of life that ad revenue supports all of these projects; Firefox because Mozilla gets major financial support from Google, and Chrome because it is a project within Google. Those browsers are in many other ways better designed and easier to use than Internet Explorer, but none of them provides a decent user experience when it comes to ad tracking and privacy.
Here’s some unsolicited advice for the privacy teams at these companies: it’s time to figure out how to demonstrate that better privacy tools lead to more engagement with advertising. If Google is to be believed, when you show consumers what’s really going on with ad tracking, they tend to lean in rather than lean out. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s time for privacy enhancing tools to be viewed as revenue enhancing rather than just a cost of doing business.