Microsoft has announced the addition of Tracking protection to their new Internet Explorer 9 web browser. The feature consists of two options that allow users to have more control over which (if any) websites are allowed to request data from the user’s browser and computer.
It’s a simple privacy measure that is long overdue. While advertisers may say that allowing websites to query your computer for information helps deliver targeted adverts to you that are relevant and that you will actually want to see, it’s also true that end users have no idea who is collecting this information, what information they are collecting and what it will be used for.
In providing this functionality Microsoft are preempting possible future action by governments who will want to crack down on the privacy of their citizens. In a statement the company said…
On the IE team, we’ve asked similar questions and want to make progress operationally as well as in the public discussion. We want to develop (as the recent FTC report put it) “more effective technologies for consumer control” and make progress on the report’s recommendation of “a browser-based mechanism through which consumers could make persistent choices” regarding tracking. Today, we’re offering an early look at a way to enable operational progress in the privacy discussion.
There will be very few people who won’t welcome this move though it’s now entirely down to how Microsoft implement this in the browser and how easy and obvious they make it for people to use. The best privacy tools in the world are no good to anyone if they’re implemented in a way that only advanced computer users can understand.