Internet Explorer 9 promises protection from online tracking

Worried about third-party websites tracking your browsing history? Microsoft has a solution for you.

The new version of Internet Explorer, which is due for release in early 2011, will contain a “Tracking Protection” feature, aimed at identifying and blocking many different forms of online activity tracking.

According to an entry on the official IEBlog, the feature will be opt-in and will offer the possibility of making personal “Tracking Protection Lists”, which will define what third-party site content is allowed to track the users when they’re online.

“As consumers visit one site, many other sites receive information about their activities,” says Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President, Internet Explorer.”This situation results from how modern websites are built; typically a website today might bring together content from many other websites, leaving the impression that the website appears to be its own entity. When the browser calls any other website to request anything (an image, a cookie, HTML, a script that can execute), the browser explicitly provides information in order to get information. By limiting data requests to these sites, it is possible to limit the data available to these sites for collection and tracking.”

These can be whitelists or blacklists – the users can choose to which web addresses the browser can make “calls” to even if they are not visited directly and which are expressly blocked. Of course, this will mean that some features or adverts on particular sites might not appear – which can lower the quality of the overall Web surfing experience – but at least the users have a choice.

Users will also be able to share these lists with others, and Microsoft plans to make the format they use for them available under a Creative Commons Attribution license and the Microsoft Open Specification Promise.

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