IE9 to introduce tracking protection against third party websites

by PYB James | Dec 10, 2010

Microsoft have announced that IE9 will provide a new tool to enable users to hide their online activity. Customers concerned with third party websites monitoring their browser activity while surfing the web will be able to utilise the IE9’s “Tracking Protection” feature, when the new browser is released in 2011.

The Tracking Protection feature will enable users to prevent third parties observing their habits, but letting them filter content from pages that may have an impact on privacy. This tool will join the privacy tool ‘InPrivate browsing’ already featured in IE8.

In some cases websites accessing details can be useful to users, by building profiles about each user and providing bespoke marketing and providing more personalised adverts for products or services users might like. However information is often stored about the user without their knowledge or consent. With this in mind, there has not, so far, been a high profile case of users being harmed by third part tracking.

Furthermore, putting in place anti tracking features, may mean that certain web pages could be disrupted in terms of appearance. Because tracking functions are embedded in web pages, and often in the text itself, this could cause the user to just see holes in the page.

New privacy tracking features falls in line with a report by The Federal Trade Commission in regards to Internet tracking. The organisation has recommended “more effective technologies for user control” via "a browser-based mechanism through which consumers could make persistent choices”.

This means that if other browsers follow suit, the government’s FTC proposal “Do Not Track” may become unnecessary. In addition to this concerns as to how the government could actually enforce such a legislation is questionable. “If the industry can do it, it’s better than government intervention”, said Azita Arvani of the Arvani Group.

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