Ina Fried

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Microsoft Adds “Tracking Protection” to IE9

Microsoft said Tuesday it is adding a new feature to its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 that will give consumers more information about what information is being tracked on them.

In a Webcast, Microsoft Vice President Dean Hachamovitch said that today’s consumers have very little knowledge of what personal information is being tracked by various third parties.

“Tracking Protection in IE9 puts people in control,” Hachamovitch said. It allows, for example, one to view part of a Web site without viewing content coming from specified third-party sites.

The new feature, Hachamovitch said, is coming in the release candidate version of IE9, which is due early next year. By default the new feature will be off, but a user’s choice will persist from one browser session to another.

The move is about more than just cookies, Microsoft said, allowing users to create both a list of sites they do want to allow third-party access to, as well as a list of sites that should be blocked. Those lists could be created by the users themselves, or by businesses or other entities. Microsoft said it expects tech enthusiasts to be the first creators of such lists, but over time it expects privacy lists to come from a wide range of places, including from privacy groups.

Microsoft also said that the new feature is complementary to, and not a replacement for, its InPrivate filtering, which hides browsing history on the machine itself.

Hachamovitch said the company is opting to keep InPrivate off by default in IE9 because of the value consumers get by having a browser know which sites one has visited.

The timing is interesting, coming just a half-hour before Google’s Chrome announcement.

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