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MS Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) to Offer Anonymous Browsing

Posted: 26th Aug, 2008 By: MarkJ
Microsoft (MS) has been busy spending the past few days leaking more details about its forthcoming release of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), the next major update to its global website browsing software. Among the usual security enhancements, such as improved protection against phishing, is something called 'inPrivate' mode.

Humorously dubbed 'porn mode' by some (you’ll soon see why), inPrivate will allow web users to browse the Internet with some degree of anonymity. Once enabled, a surfer’s activity is no longer recorded to the user’s history and prevents websites from placing a cookie on their system.

IE8 inPrivate mode example screen

Cookies are typically small text files used by websites and browsers to retain a degree of personal user/visitor information. In the case of most sites, such as ISPreview, they are used to help keep you logged into discussion forums and related systems, preventing repetitive login/password re-typing requests.

Though these methods do not make you completely invisible to the website server, they would make it more difficult for other users of your local computer to see what you have been up to; hence the 'porn mode' reference because past visits to less credible (*cough*) sites would no longer be visible to others.

It's also another graphic illustration of just why Phorm, the controversial advertising system that works with your ISP to monitor what websites you visit for use in targeted advertising campaigns, should not base its opt-in/out system on fallible cookies. If you don't track them then it won't know that you've opted-out, thus causing serious privacy concerns.

It’s worth pointing out that Mozilla’s Firefox browser dropped this idea from 3.0 and its forthcoming 3.1 release, although it wouldn’t surprise us if they were now to re-evaluate that stance; Apple’s less popular Safari browser already includes it. Beta 2 of IE8 is due out towards the end of this week and should include the new features, not to mention a lot of other performance and stability enhancements.
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