All the major web-browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari – now offer built-in privacy features, yet it’s estimated that that only 1-2% of users take advantage of them. Most users say they are concerned about privacy on-line; identity-theft, anonymity, and data protection. But some of these anti-tracking features are hard to figure out, and who has time to stumble through all those settings tabs? Browser’s privacy usually means things: some kind of “private mode” to prevent logging and tracking, and blocking targeted advertising… InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other data. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default. Enabling InPrivate Microsoft’s current Internet Explorer 9 has InPrivate, that’s Microsoft’s private browsing mode:
- In an open IE window, click on the “Safety” menu, then click “InPrivate Browsing.” Alternatively, you can use the short-cut Ctrl + Shift + P.
- You’ll see a message telling you that you’re in InPrivate mode.
- To stop using InPrivate, close your window.
Enabling Do Not Track Internet Explorer supports the Do Not Track initiative through Tracking Protection Lists (TPL’s – don’t you love Microsoft). TPL’s block content from sites that appear on the list. Once a user downloads and applies a TPL in Internet Explorer, it is automatically updated, much like Windows Update. Microsoft supports four sponsored lists: Abine, EasyList, PrivacyChoice, and TRUSTe.
Doubling up on TPL’s doesn’t necessarily provide more protection, since, to paraphrase Orwell, some lists are more equal than others. For example, TRUSTe’s list is more permissive, so enabling the TRUSTe TPL alongside any of the others will negate the privacy benefit of the other more restrictive ones. More tracking protection isn’t always better, you are always sheltering under the least protective list. With that in Mind, here’s how to enable Tracking Protection in Internet Explorer:
1. With an IE window open, click the “Tools” button (it has a gear icon on it), point to “Safety,” and then click “Tracking Protection.”
2. In the Manage Add-On box that pops up, select “Your Personalized list” and then click “Enable.” This installs a list based on your browsing history.
3. To change, manage, or add lists, open Tracking Protection and click the link that reads “Get a Tracking Protection List online.” Alternatively, you can visit Microsoft’s TPL page.
Next, we’ll look at privacy in Firefox. AJS