Microsoft plans to include opt-in tracking protection tools in the next version of its browser to enable consumers to control and block the unwanted monitoring of their online behaviour.
The move follows the release of a 122-page draft online consumer privacy report by the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month, which called for the introduction of a ‘do-not-track’ option for online behavioural advertising. It also proposed that brands should make it easier for consumers to review the data collected about them.
Microsoft said in a blog that its decision to introduce the new tracking protection tools followed a series of discussions with the FTC, the European Union’s Article 29 Working Party and other privacy groups and that it had applied principles such as transparency and privacy by design, which were described in the FTC report.
As a result, version 9 of Internet Explorer, which is scheduled for release in early 2011, will include an opt-in protection mechanism to identify and block undesired tracking as well as tracking protection lists to enable customers to define and control which websites they want to share their information with. The lists will work in a similar fashion to ‘Do Not Call’ lists, which limit who marketing firms can cold call.
When the tracking system is switched on, users may not be able to view certain adverts or functionality on some websites. It will not be turned on by default, however, and users will need to opt in to use it.
Microsoft also plans to release the formatting and standards of its list-based technology under an open licence to enable adoption by other browser producers.