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Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Microsoft Unveils New Privacy Features for Internet Explorer 9

How companies collect, use and store information about people browsing online is a hot topic these days, and Microsoft wants to be at the forefront of that critical conversation.

With the development of Internet Explorer 9, now available in beta, Microsoft has introduced a new feature called "Tracking Protection," which gives consumers more protection against third-party websites that may track where they go and what they do on the Web.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Dean Hachamovitch, says that 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.

These lists include Web addresses for IE to treat as "Do Not Call" unless the consumer visits the address directly. The lists also include 'OK to Call" addresses to make sure that the user can get to these addresses even if one of their lists has it as "Do Not Call." Once the consumer has turned on Tracking Protection, it remains on until the person turns it off. Again, it?s worth noting that consumers have to turn on Tracking Protection and that by default IE9?s privacy protections are similar to IE8?s.

Microsoft's privacy announcement comes amid moves in Washington to create "Do Not Track" mechanisms that would signal to online services not to collect Web surfing or ad-targeting data.

The US Federal Trade Commission last week proposed an online "Do Not Track" option and a US congressman announced plans to introduce legislation that would bar companies from tracking the behavior of children online.

Microsoft released an initial test version of IE9 in September which did not include Tracking Protection.

"With all of the discussion both coming out of the FTC and elsewhere in the world about the role of browsers in the privacy space, we wanted to share our approach to protecting people from online tracking now so that the various stakeholders could provide feedback and could begin building lists before the feature ships in the release candidate of Internet Explorer 9," Hachamovitch added.

IE9 is expected to be released early next year.

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