Microsoft has announced that the next version of Internet Explorer will include a feature called Tracking Protection, which enables users to block websites from collecting information about them.
"As consumers visit one site, many other sites receive information about their activities," says the post on the MSDN blog. "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."
The end result? Users make information sharing an opt-in proposition. All they have to do is turn on the feature, then make a list of sites to block. Any site on that list will be prevented from tracking user data and from showing certain third-party content.
Of course, this approach has its drawbacks. For example, it may filter out material relevant to a user (imagine searching on a medical issue and having third-party content on a page get blocked, for example), and the block list requires constant updating by the user.
It's no coincidence that Microsoft has announced Tracking Protection on the heels of the FTC's call for a Do Not Track system analogous to the Do Not Call list that keeps phone numbers out of the hands of telemarketers. Mozilla is already working on its own version of tracking blocking, and Microsoft can ill-afford to cede privacy ground to its top competitor.
This article, "IE9 to let users block third-party tracking," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.