Microsoft to add privacy features to IE8

Microsoft plans to add some new privacy features to IE8, it's next browser.

Microsoft on Monday described some new privacy features that will come with IE8 (See IE8's XSS Filter Examined), the next release of its browser. The features are designed to make it easier for people to delete and control information about their Web browsing history.

With InPrivate Browsing, one of the new features, a user launches a new InPrivate Browsing window to go online. When the users closes the window, IE doesn't store any cookies, passwords, words typed into the address bar, search queries, temporary Internet files or form data from the browsing session.

Another new feature aims to address a shortcoming in the way the current version of IE lets people delete their browsing history. When a user deletes their browsing history today, they also get rid of cookies that are used to save preferences tied to Web sites that they might visit often.

With IE8, users can delete their browsing history but retain the cookies for frequently visited sites. The implementation for this will be a bit clunky for users, however. To make sure cookies are retained for certain sites, users will have to add those sites to their Favorites list. After that, the cookies for those sites will be retained when the browsing history is deleted.

Microsoft also hopes to help users better control the type of information that Web sites might share about them with third parties. Companies that provide content to Web sites often collect information about people who visit those sites, but end users sometimes don't know the information is being collected, Microsoft said. If the content provider supplies content to multiple sites, it can compile valuable browsing information about users who visit those sites.

A feature in IE8 called InPrivate Blocking keeps a record of when those content providers collect browsing information about the user, and will automatically block providers who have collected information about a user on more than 10 sites. Users can also choose which content they block or allow, and learn more about third-party content.

Microsoft is expected to release another beta of IE8 this month and release the final code before the end of this year.

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