Internet Explorer to include Do Not Track Feature

Dennis Faas's picture

The next edition of Internet Explorer is said to include a new tool for users to restrict how their information is shared with websites. But it will likely mean that some web features and content will be unavailable to users if the special privacy feature is enabled.

FTC Calls for "Do Not Track" Feature in Web Browsers

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called on web browser producers and website owners to make it easier for users to avoid having their online activity shared with other web sites.

For example, a site might share what a user reads with an advertising agency. The idea is to make it easier for marketers to provide relevant advertisements to the user. The data is shared automatically as the user visits other websites.

The FTC has suggested that browsers include a setting that would operate similarly to "Do Not Call" lists for telephones. If a user activated this setting, websites would be informed that the user did not want their activity tracked or shared.

FTC Plan Has Fundamental Flaws

Microsoft's proposal for new privacy feature in Internet Explorer is aimed at solving two drawbacks to the FTC's proposed Do Not Track list.

The first is that although websites could be informed a user doesn't want their information tracked, there is nothing to physically force websites to comply to the rule. It could be possible to make it a legal requirement to comply with such user privacy settings, but that would be extraordinarily difficult to police, particularly in cases involving oversea countries.

The second problem is that the FTC's "Do Not Track" button is not selective. In other words, users would have to block all websites, instead of being able to select which websites are / are not allowed to track the user.

Internet Explorer Tracking Protection List

Microsoft's answer is to have a "tracking protection list" for Internet Explorer, where each user can activate and deactivate a list of websites within the browser. Though the list will start as blank by default, users can add sites to the list. (Source:

Automated Tracking Protection Lists Available

To make things easier, users will be able to publish and maintain their own versions of the Do Not Track lists online, allowing others to subscribe to these lists. Doing so will automatically copy the Do Not Track list to the user's own browser settings and keep up-to-date with any changes. It's thought privacy and consumer groups might publish such lists.

Do Not Track Likely to Lead to Content Disruption

There's already concern that anti-tracking lists will cause major complaints from advertisers and other third parties.

Furthermore, some web sites rely on tracking mechanisms in order to provide special content to their users (example: a paid-for online news subscription). This may prove to be such a big problem, that users will likely be tempted to simply disable the Do Not Track feature altogether. (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet