Microsoft says Internet Explorer 9 will include behavioral advertising opt-out

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Microsoft said December 7 that yet-to-be-released Web browser Internet Explorer 9 will allow consumers to identify and block “many forms of undesired tracking.”

The feature, which Microsoft is calling “Tracking Protection,” will enable consumers to determine the types of third-parties that can track their Web behavior, said Dean Hachamovitch, corporate VP for Internet Explorer, on the company's IEBlog.

“We believe the combination of consumer opt-in, an open platform for publishing of tracking protection lists (TPL), and the underlying technology mechanism for Tracking Protection offer new options and a good balance between empowering consumers and online industry needs,” he said on the blog. “They further empower consumers and complement many of the other ideas under discussion.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the matter beyond the blog post. The Redmond, WA-based company could reportedly release the browser as early as next year. Internet Explorer 9 is now only available in beta.

Websites can now collect data from other portals without consumer knowledge or consent. Consumers who use Internet Explorer 9 will be able to create a tracking protection list with Web addresses that the browser will visit only if a consumer clicks on a link or types in a Web address.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission called for the implementation of a universal “Do-Not-Track” option. Lawmakers introduced numerous privacy bills during the current Congress, but none gained the necessary traction to become law.

Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, said the feature is a “good step forward in the dialogue that we're all having right now about how to give consumers better control of their personal information online.”

Grant added that she wasn't sure Tracking Protection “is the best way to give consumers effective tools to use against unwanted online tracking,” advocating for federal legislation instead.

Linda Woolley, EVP of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, agreed that Tracking Protection will benefit consumers.

“Anything that moves the industry forward and helps with consumer confidence is a good thing,” she said. However, Woolley added that the Advertising Option Icon, which is sponsored by the DMA and other industry associations, is a better way to give consumers the ability to opt out.

The Advertising Option Icon, when clicked, gives consumers information about online behavioral advertising and tells them how to use browser controls to enhance privacy. The icon also allows consumers to globally opt out of tracking.

Both Woolley and Grant declined to comment on how the Internet Explorer browser opt out might affect marketers.

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