Microsoft Ups the Ante on Internet Explorer Privacy Tools

By Cindy Waxer December 08, 2010

Microsoft thinks it’s found a solution for those tired of being tracked by websites. The Redmond giant has created a new privacy feature called “Tracking Protection,” which will be a part of the company’s upcoming version of the Internet Explorer browser.

According to a statement by Microsoft’s corporate vice president Dean Hachamovitch, head of Internet Explorer development, “Tracking Protection in IE9 puts people in control of what data is being shared as they move around the Web. It does this by enabling consumers to indicate what websites they’d prefer to not exchange information with. Consumers do this by adding Tracking Protection Lists to Internet Explorer. Anyone, and any organization, on the Web can author and publish Tracking Protection Lists. Consumers can install more than one. By default, there are no lists included in IE9, which is consistent with our previous IE releases with respect to privacy.”

Tracking Protection is a timely feature given that policymakers around the world are struggling to strike a balance between how companies collect, use and store online information and consumer privacy rights.

In fact, earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission laid out its plan to put an end to online espionage with a proposed “Do Not Track” tool – most likely a persistent setting on consumers’ browsers – so that consumers can choose whether to permit the collection of data regarding their online searching and browsing activities. Essentially, consumers would be able to opt out of the collection of information about their Internet behavior for targeted ads with the click of a button signaling the consumer’s choices about being tracked and receiving targeted ads.

“Technological and business ingenuity have spawned a whole new online culture and vocabulary – e-mail, IMs, apps and blogs – that consumers have come to expect and enjoy. The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, in a statement.

The Do Not Track tool is said to have been inspired by today’s “Do Not Call Registry,” which gives consumers the choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. The list, launched in 2003, prevents telemarketers from calling once you have been registered for 31 days.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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