After applying to patent the term InPrivate with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office end of last month, one of the long speculated privacy tools, In Private, was finally affirmed by Microsoft and shown in its official blog (another tool is Cleartracks). As highlighted in the application form, InPrivate refers to “computer programs for disabling the history of file caching features of a Web browser, and computer software for notifying a user of a Web browser when others are tracking Web use and for controlling the information others can access about such use.” This new feature to be added to the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 is one of Microsoft’s key selling points for its new IE browser.

Privacy is an important element that is much valued by individuals. Individuals must have the choice to conceal themselves or information about themselves and only reveal themselves selectively. Nevertheless, privacy seems to be a major concern for many users nowadays. Users cannot freely enjoy their browsing experience via current web browsers. Most current web browsers will leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that can clearly reveal a user’s path across the Web. Many occasions in the past revealed that this information has been used by law enforcement officials investigating suspected criminals’ behavior, by employers keeping tab on staff’s browsing habits, and even by jealous spouses who suspect their partners of cheating or frequenting porn sites.

It is an encouraging move that Microsoft has tackled the privacy issue and incorporated the feature into its new IE8. How far and how well this feature can perform is, however, still a question mark.

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