Enhancing privacy choices on the Internet

Enhancing privacy choices on the Internet

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As we browse the internet, we read, search, and click. This online behaviour has commercial value, so it is observed, recorded and linked across multiple websites to build behavioural profiles. There are usually no obvious visible signs of this tracking on the websites we visit, although the advertising, maps and other content we see on websites is often provided by organisations other than the website operator and what we see may be based on a behavioural profile. Many people find it useful that websites are automatically tailored to them, but others may prefer not to have their activities on the web tracked in this way.

One study found a commonly used website that has more than 200 tracking technologies from other organisations being used to track behaviour on that site. If you'd like to have a look for yourself at some of the tracking that is going on behind the scenes, load a favourite website and then have look at the "Webpage privacy policy" section in your web browser (under the View menu in Internet Explorer). Depending on the site you loaded, you may well see a number of elements have been loaded in the background from other websites.

Internet Explorer 9, which was released last week, is the first web browser to include a new feature called Tracking Protection which helps people stay in control of this tracking – and therefore their privacy – as they browse the web.

Tracking Protection provides an added level of control and choice over information that can potentially be used to track your browsing activity. By adding a Tracking Protection List, Internet Explorer 9 will prevent information from being sent by limiting data requests to websites in the list until you choose to turn it off.

If you have Internet Explorer 9, it's simple to add a Tracking Protection List of your choice.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards body has announced that they have accepted Microsoft's proposal on a common W3C standard for Web Tracking Protection, and we hope that other web browsers will adopt this privacy enhancing technology in the future.

We'd be interested in your feedback on privacy and the internet. Do you think the new Tracking Protection will be useful?

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  • Ed Bott did a study of the different tracking lists that is handy to read if you want to use this.

    www.zdnet.com/.../3014

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