CIO Symmetry

Aug 29 2008   12:53PM GMT

IE 8 brings Web-surfing privacy and peace of mind (for users, anyway)

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

 

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) will have a new privacy setting. The new setting, dubbed “porn mode” by bloggers because it effectively erases all evidence of sites you’ve visited, was officially confirmed earlier in the week by Microsofts’s program manager, Andy Zeigler.

Zeigler sums up the change as one that gives users the choice to disclose private information, as opposed to being forced to through browser settings that save cookies, browsing history and the like. He mentions a few specific cases for needing the added privacy, such as purchasing a gift for a loved one online without ruining the surprise or feeling comfortable enough at a public Internet kiosk to do your personal banking.

Zeigler states in his blog that when developing IE 8, Microsoft took a look at the concerns users had with IE 7. Privacy stood out as a main concern – “the so-called, ‘over-the-shoulder privacy,’ or the ability to control what their spouses, friends, kids and co-workers might see” as well as the “so-called ‘3rd-party’ content on websites, some of which can gather data about how you browse the web.” People just didn’t want others seeing which sites they visited.

When enabled, Microsoft’s “InPrivate Browsing” tool will switch off cookies, browsing and search history and will automatically clear the cache at the end of the browser session. It also eliminates auto-complete and the storing of other form data.

How different is this really from Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla Firefox’s security features? Microsoft may be just stepping up its game a bit, considering Mozilla now holds 19% market share. But there are some differences worth mentioning. When activated, the “InPrivate” icon is more obvious than similar privacy tabs and icons in Mozilla and Safari and IE 8 brings better support for W3 Web standards.

For those of us who are looking for more privacy, it sounds like a great thing. No longer tracked by cookies! But what about the companies who use these tracking devices to improve ad-targeting? Well, click-throughs may see a drop. And the specifically-tailored ads directed towards you and based on your Web-searching habits will also be diminished — possibly hurting sales. This may not sound too pertinent as of now, but it makes me curious. How will marketers be able to target Web surfers? I can’t help but wonder what they’ll be forced to come out with next. Will it be more invasive than what we’re faced with now?

And what does this mean for you and your employees? If you don’t employ web filtering so employees are free to visit sites all over the web, are you going to be more concerned over what the guy in the corner desk is really looking at when you’re assuming he’s getting his work done?

 

Will it have an effect on office culture? Even if employees are free to browse the Web, will their YouTube downloads or (or whatever it is they may download!) hog noticeable amounts of bandwidth and get the bandwidth police after them? One more thing to constantly be looking out for?

As if that’s the biggest worry…

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