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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Microsoft puts 'Do Not Track' function in next IE browser

By Cecilia Kang

Microsoft said Tuesday a new version of its browser, Internet Explorer, will come with technology that can block third-party firms from tracking a user's activity on the Web.

The announcement comes after the Federal Trade Commission last week recommended a blanket anti-tracking mechanism that would protect users' privacy online. The FTC's proposal, called "Do Not Track," is meant to recall the popular "Do Not Call" registry administered by the agency to block marketing calls. Do-not-track technologies, however, wouldn't be a list or registry but would be technology a user voluntarily signs up for that blocks companies from collecting information on what sites a user visits and what they do on those Web sites.

"Today, consumers share information with more Web sites than the ones they see in the address bar in their browser," said Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Internet Explorer. "This is inherent in the design of the Web and simply how the web works, and it has potentially unintended consequences."

Specifically, the IE9 browser will allow a user to set up a Tracking Protection list of Web sites that it doesn't want to track its information. A user would have to proactively set up the list. The default would be that Web sites -- including third-party firms -- could gather information about users as they do today.

Advertisers are currently able to gather information about a user's activity and create profiles on that user based on their behavior. That valuable information is then used for behavioral advertising, which privacy groups have urged federal regulators to curb.

"This is a step in the right direction, but we still need new privacy laws in the United States that reflect the 21st century digital world we are living in," said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, which advocates for child safety on the web and in the media. "We hope this is a sign that the industry is taking the online privacy of consumers -- especially kids -- more seriously than they have been and that they will do the right thing and work with policymakers on privacy legislation that puts enforceable consumer protections in place."

Microsoft's Tracking Protection features will be in IE9, which will be available early next year.

By Cecilia Kang  | December 7, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Microsoft  
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Comments

It's a bad implementation. Just make "disable third-party cookies" a more prominent option. I cleaned out my cookies, checked that box, and now have a very clean set of cookies from places I actually visit.

Flash is the real offender here, as many components simply don't work without third party local storage.

Posted by: staticvars | December 7, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

How about Firefox with No script?

Posted by: ozpunk | December 7, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Firefox is good but it would be better if its memory usage problems would be fixed once and for all...it "leaked" six years ago, and it still "leaks" today.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | December 7, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

That's right, more bloatware for something that's as easy as blocking all cookies and scripts. Typical Micro$oft solution, comes with another round of bugs and vulnerabilities.

Posted by: sandbagger | December 7, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

That IE 9 system that requires the user to list the prohibited sites is a transparent fig leaf. The abusing sites could change their identities and the user would have to maintain thousands of items in the list of prohibited sites. It is worse than useless because it gives the appearance of protection that doesn't exist.

Posted by: BobNH | December 7, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I use SpywareBlaster. It blocks more than 13000 sites. There is no way any individual, no matter how knowledgeable or diligent, can keep up with that sort of thing.

Microsoft's opt out system for IE will be a big bust. Much better to block all 3rd-party cookies, with an opt-in system to make a few things work for you.

Posted by: SoloOwl | December 7, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

This “Do not Track” function has its advantage and disadvantage. For the not so geek people, it would help them to preserve their privacy. But for parents like me, I can no longer monitor my child on what he does when he is using the computer.
http://iphonescreenprotectorblog.com/

Posted by: rickyfantana | December 8, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

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