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Internet Explorer 9 to include anti-tracking feature

The next release of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will let users enable “tracking protection” to control what third-party sites are able to track online. The announcement comes just a few days after the Federal Trade Commission proposed instituting a “do not track” list for the Internet akin to the “do not call” for telemarketing.

The feature will allow users to create lists of sites to block from tracking. The tracking protection lists can then be shared with other users. Making and subscribing to the lists can be done by anyone — individuals, companies, or organizations — and the sites contained blocked on the lists can be customized. Users will be able to subscribe to multiple lists that could potentially cover a broad range websites.

When users visit a site that’s contained in their tracking protection list, IE9 will limit data requests between the site and browser preventing cookies and extraneous scripts from running. This, obviously, may inhibit some websites from performing legitimate functions like showing shopping recommendations based on browsing history. It’s not immediately clear if the tracking protection will prevent sites from displaying ads normally, as Adblock plug-in for Mozilla’s Firefox currently does.

“Consumers understand that they have a relationship with the site they visit directly, whose address is clearly visible to them. The modern Web though means that websites include content from many other sites as well,” Peter Cullen, Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Strategist said in a statement. “These “third-party” sites are in position to potentially track consumers, via cookies and other technology mechanisms. This creates a potential trade-off for those consumers with privacy concerns.”

The anti-tracking feature is expected to be included in the IE9 release candidate expected to ship early next year.