Microsoft Adds New Privacy Features to Internet Explorer


Microsoft (MSFT) is adding extra privacy controls to Internet Explorer to limit the amount of information that users disclose while surfing the Web.

The new Microsoft feature will allow users to create a list of sites that they want to block from tracking them, The Associated Press said.

The Federal Trade Commission is considering new rules to limit the amount of info that websites can learn about users while they hop from site to site, The Associated Press said. Privacy advocates have charged that users are unwittingly revealing information they'd rather keep quiet.

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This info is a huge resource for third-party advertisers, who can target their ads to each user.

The new Microsoft feature comes with drawbacks. The onus is on the user to choose specific sites that they want to block, rather than offering across-the-board privacy.

"With this kind of 'do not track' list, the industry is not held accountable for not tracking; it's the user that's responsible. They kind of got it backward," said Anup Ghosh, founder of privacy software-maker Invincea. "Users aren't equipped to make these kinds of decisions, nor do they want to."

Plus, the new privacy controls on Internet Explorer are not automatic: they have to be switched on.

Dean Hachamovitch, who is in charge of development for Internet Explorer, said Microsoft chose not to create lists of websites that users should block.

"Choosing a tracking protection list is a statement around what the consumer wants out of the box, and in some ways that is completely up to the consumer," Hachamovitch said.

Mozilla, the maker of Web browser Firefox, is currently working on a do-not-track feature.