Microsoft does not enable the keystroke capture and logging tool by default -- as does Google with Chrome. "That makes a huge difference," said Cooper. "Not many people go around tweaking their browser."
However, Microsoft does pitch the tool during IE8 Beta 2 setup. After installing the beta, users are shown a screen that asks "Do you want to discover websites you might like based on websites you've visited?" The default response is "Yes, turn on Suggested Sites," but users can also select "No, don't turn on," before continuing the configuration process.
Users can also later disable Suggested Sites by clicking the Tools button in IE8 and clearing the check beside "Suggested Sites" in the drop-down menu.
"You can also delete individual entries from your history at any time," Microsoft's privacy statement reads. "Deleted entries will not be used to provide you suggestions for other websites, although they will be retained by Microsoft for a period of time to help improve our products and services."
"The thing the that popped to mind is that, in terms of search logs, Microsoft deletes cross-session data, such as cookies and IP addresses, after 18 months," said Cooper. "I'd be curious if that's the same policy for IE."
Microsoft did not reply to several questions about IE8 Beta 2's Suggested Search and its privacy impact, including what percentage of all entries it retains and for how long.