When IE Version 2 launched in 1995, they introduced support for cookies. From that day onwards, people worried about privacy.
Originally, Tim Berners-Lee had intended a “stateless” internet - one request, one outcome. Of course, that meant no commerce, no tracking and no personalization. Shortly afterwards, and for these very reasons, Netscape released cookies into their browser in 1994, closely followed by IE. It still took a while for the mainstream press to catch (sparked by an article in the Financial Times in February 1996).
Fast forward 15 years (during which every year was the year that they were about to ban the cookie), and the latest attempt to prevent over-zealous tracking: Internet Explorer (which still has over 55% of the browser market share) will introduce “Tracking Protection” to its V9 browser.
This feature works by allowing users to download “do not allow” lists to their browser. From where? Well, it seems pretty much from anywhere – government lists, industry lists, open source and random lists.
It looks like Tracking Protection it builds on (or replaces) the “In-Private Filtering” feature on the current IE9 beta, which allows you to block various providers from doubleclick through to twitter and facebook. It will likely be similar, though with the addition of downloadable lists.
So – a step in the right direction? I don’t think so. Here’s why it won’t work
- It is (rightly) switched off by default. Very very few people will switch it on. Period. The % of people who change any settings in their browser, ever, is significantly less than 1%
- If a user does decide to switch it on – which list to download? Who regulates that list? Could one competitor lobby to add other competitors to the list?
- It’s unlikely other browser creators will sign up to a mechanism created by MS – even if it is open-source and well intended.
If you’re interested, you can read more about it over at the MSDN blog here, and check out the video.