Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet is blogging about speculation that Internet Explorer 8 will include a special privacy mode, uncomfortably, but understandably, nicknamed “porn mode.” Doubtless Microsoft will have a more boring name ready by the time it is announced.
The idea of this mode is that no traces of activity—history, cache, cookies, form field entries, etc,—are left behind. This feature has been in Safari for many years.
Foley asked Microsoft if the feature would be in the supposedly-soon-to-be-released beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8. All they would say is that they would talk more about privacy at the right time.
The countdown to Internet Explorer (IE) 8 Beta 2 is on. Microsoft said the consumer-focused IE 8 test release would be available in August. There are just 11 days left….
No doubt, Microsoft has been holding back some features that will be added to the new test build. Istartedsomething’s Long Zheng blogged on August 20 about one such possibility: Private browsing, a k a “porn mode.” Private browsing is a feature that the Mozilla team ended up pulling from Firefox 3 (and 3.1), but one that Safari has had since 2005.
Private browsing allows those browsing the Web to erase their online tracks in history, cache and personal information entered and shared by a user on a Web page.
I asked Microsoft whether Zheng was right, and all a spokeswoman would say is the company will have more to say about privacy as IE 8 evolves.
There have been a couple of IE Blog posts that offer hints that Microsoft may be going beyond the pure “private browsing” mode.
From a June 24, 2008 IE Blog post on trustworthy browsing:
“(T)there’s more to online privacy than cookies, as cookies are only one implementation of content that can disclose information to websites. In some discussions, people have also described IE7’s Phishing Filter as a privacy feature because it helps protect users from sharing information. The larger challenge here is notifying users clearly about what sites they’re disclosing information to and enabling them to control that disclosure if they choose. As we talk more about privacy, we will broaden the discussion to include additional protections from sharing information that the browser can offer users.”
Some IE users have been saying for years that they want somthing more granular than the current browser option to delete all cookies or all temporary Internet files. From way back in 2006 in the comments on the IE Blog, poster Nick Davis said:
“I *hate* clearing my history, because lots of history is useful. What’s that new supplier’s site I went to last week and forgot to bookmark, etc. I hate losing all that info, just to cover up the fact that I, ahem, bought a gift for a loved one.
“Selective history. That’s what we need. Or a way to selectively delete browsing history after the fact. I mean, we’re only over 10 years into this whole web browser thing, and we have basically the same feature since v1.”
Any guesses as to what Microsoft might deliver on the privacy front with the forthcoming IE 8 Beta 2 and/or final release (slated to be available before the end of 2008)?