Microsoft is planning to add a significant number of privacy enhancements in Internet Explorer 8, including a new private browsing mode called InPrivate. The list of new features addressing privacy concerns is impressive and reflects the growing concern in the industry and the user community at large about the amount of private information that websites routinely collect from visitors, much of it without their knowledge. The most significant addition is the InPrivate browsing mode, which enables users to control whether IE saves a record of their online movements. In this mode, IE 8 will not save cookies, passwords, browsing history or any other record of the user’s browsing session.
As Microsoft’s Andy Zeigler explains:
While InPrivate Browsing is active, the following takes place:
- New cookies are not stored
- All new cookies become “session” cookies
- Existing cookies can still be read
- The new DOM storage feature behaves the same way
- New history entries will not be recorded
- New temporary Internet files will be deleted after the Private Browsing window is closed
- Form data is not stored
- Passwords are not stored
- Addresses typed into the address bar are not stored
- Queries entered into the search box are not stored
- Visited links will not be stored
I love this. Love it. There are ways to accomplish virtually all of these things manually in the current version of IE, but it takes quite a bit of doing and let’s face it, most users are not going to take the time to go in and make all of the necessary adjustments. They’re just not. So giving them all of these features wrapped up in a neat little package is a nice move. The next beta version of IE 8, which is due for release by the end of August, also will include a feature called InPrivate Blocking that tells users when they’re visiting a site that may have some visibility into their browsing habits.
Also coming in IE 8 is a feature called InPrivate Subscriptions, which consumes special RSS feeds from Web sites that specify which content from those sites that IE will block. Obviously it remains to be seen how these features work in practice, but it certainly looks like Microsoft has taken Web privacy to a much higher plain in IE 8.