The new release candidate of Internet Explorer 9, which Microsoft released earlier this week, includes the company’s implementation of a new privacy technology called Tracking Protection that makes it easier for users to prevent sites from tracking their movements online.
The IE9 RC also includes some other security and privacy protections, most notably a new ActiveX Filter that allows users to turn off ActiveX controls globally and also to do so on a more granular basis. ActiveX is one of the more controversial and disliked technologies on the Web and has been the target of criticism by a long line of security researchers and privacy advocates over the years. The new filter gives users much more control of how the technology is used in IE9.
But the most interesting addition to IE9 is the Tracking Protection mechanism. The technology, which Microsoft announced last fall, involves the use of Tracking Protection Lists. Users can add various TPLs from trusted sites and the result is that the sites and advertising networks contained in the list will be prevented from using cookies to track the user.
“IE9 now includes Tracking Protection because consumers have
become increasingly concerned about privacy. IE9 enables consumers
to express their preference for privacy, and also gives consumers a
mechanism to enforce specific aspects of that preference. Consumers
can do this by choosing Tracking Protection Lists from organizations
they trust,” Microsoft’s IE team said in a blog post.
“These lists can block and allow third-party content in
order to control what information consumers share with sites as they
browse the Web. By controlling the flow of information to sites,
these Tracking Protection Lists help users protect their privacy.
Unlike other solutions, IE9’s benefits users even if Web sites do
not respect the user’s preference to not be tracked. The ability for a
site to determine that the user has expressed a desire to not be
tracked (by turning the feature on) is inherent in the design of
Several organizations already have created and posted Tracking Protection Lists, including TRUSTe, Abine and PrivacyChoice. Mozilla and Google also are working on similar technologies, and Google recently released an extension for Chrome that enables users to permanently opt out of cookies from some sites.