With the development of Internet Explorer 9, now available in beta, Microsoft has introduced a new feature called Tracking Protection, essentially a "Do Not Track" feature.
The IEBlog explains that "the combination of consumer opt-in, an open platform for publishing of Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs), and the underlying technology mechanism for Tracking Protection offer new options and a good balance between empowering consumers and online industry needs. They further empower consumers and complement many of the other ideas under discussion."
The news comes on the heels of the FTC's recent report on consumer privacy, which proposes "a framework to balance the privacy interests of consumers with innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new products and services. The report also suggests implementation of a "Do Not Track" mechanism — likely a persistent setting on consumers' browsers — so consumers can choose whether to allow the collection of data regarding their online searching and browsing activities.
"Technological and business ingenuity have spawned a whole new online culture and vocabulary that consumers have come to expect and enjoy. The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
To reduce the burden on consumers and ensure basic privacy protections, the report first recommends that "companies should adopt a ‘privacy by design’ approach by building privacy protections into their everyday business practices."
According to Laura Sydell's NPR All Tech Considered blog, some are giving Microsoft lukewarm praise for their Tracking Protection feature: "Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy thinks Microsoft is really just throwing a crumb to the FTC. 'Microsoft hopes that by allowing users to have some kind of greater control over who can collect consumer data that congress won't legislate and the federal trade commission won't regulate.'"