Wednesday, August 20, 2008

IE8 to Get "Private Browsing?"

Private browsing means browsing the web without leaving "tracks," such as cookies, history, cache data, etc., etc. This has been popularly called "porn mode." Only Safari currently supports this feature; it was pulled from Firefox 3 (there is, however, an add-on called Stealther some use).

Some hints around the web seem to point IE8 containing such a "mode." For one, a June 24, 2008 IE blog post on "IE8 and Trustworthy browsing" says (emphasis mine):
That said, 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.
More evidence, , IStartedSomething noticed that Microsoft filed two trademarks on July 30th. They were for:
CLEARTRACKS

IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: computer programs for accessing and using the Internet and the world wide web; and computer programs for deleting search history after accessing websites

INPRIVATE

IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: computer programs for accessing and using the Internet and the world wide web; computer programs for disabling the history and 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
Although "private browsing" didn't get into Firefox 3, they do have a "use case" page for it. It states that:
Many people believe that the primary use case for private browsing mode is viewing pornography. While viewing pornography may be a popular use case due to the nature of content on the Web, assuming that this is the only reason that users need private browsing trivializes the overall feature. For instance, users may wish to begin a private browsing session to research a medical condition, or plan a surprise vacation or birthday party for a loved one. Use cases will range from users cheating on their spouse, to users buying engagement rings. Given the breadth of our user base, specific use cases are likely to be extremely varied.
Yes, I guess that "porn mode" nickname does trivialize it. Interesting that they mention "cheating on their spouse." I guess they ran out of non-controversial use cases after "planning a birthday party."

Here's one: watch Forensic Files and see how many people get caught because they don't delete their browser cache.

OK, OK, all in fun, but seriously, if IE8 gets this, Firefox will be missing a feature IE supports. Dang.



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