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Apple’s next version of Safari to incorporate do-not-track tool

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple will include a do-not-track tool in its next version of Safari. The tool will serve to enhance privacy when browsing the web, preventing marketers from following users’ online activities.

The tool will likely be available as part of the next Mac operating system, Lion, currently on schedule for a summer release.

Such tools send a message to marketers asking that users’ online activity is not followed. But at this stage, it is just that – a request. It is up to the marketer to respect the request, and refrain from any tracking activities. This week, privacy legislation that would require websites to better explain to consumers how collected data was being tracked and used was introduced by Republican congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida.

Apple will be playing catch-up with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, whose Web browsers already offer enhanced privacy settings. Google Chrome, however, is another browser that does not currently have such a tool built in.

Users of Chrome uneasy at the idea of having their browsing sessions tracked by advertisers do have a way of protecting their privacy. The add-on Keep My Opt-Outs will prevent targeted ads and data tracking.

A report published on Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau regarding Internet ad revenue showed record increases for the whole of 2010, as well as for the fourth quarter of 2010.

With that kind of growth taking place, much of it thanks to targeted advertising, we can begin to understand why Google, with its highly successful AdWords and AdSense programs, might be a little reluctant to incorporate such a tool into Chrome.

According to recent figures from Net Applications, Internet Explorer currently enjoys approximately 56 per cent of the browser market. Firefox commands 22 per cent, Chrome 11 per cent, Safari 6 per cent and Opera 2 per cent.

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