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Protecting Your Online Privacy

Online privacy is probably the biggest issue that the IT world is facing today. There have been a number of debates about how you can fortify yourself against online threats. It does not help that every day the number of cases where the privacy of a person is compromised is increasing. There have been a number of approaches taken by different companies to ensure that their customers are not victimized. Experts have warned that in future, the new security measure will only end up confusing users more than increasing the security of their privacy. This particular point was highlighted by Microsoft when they announced the launch of their latest version of Internet Explorer browser with Windows 8. The new browser reportedly has a pre-activated ‘do not track’ option and users don’t even have to bother turning it on.

The New Internet Explorer Browser

When the launch of the latest version of their Windows operating system was held, Microsoft officials also brought up this apparent ‘step up’ in the security features of the new OS through the pre-activated ‘do not track’ option on the browser. This is said to ensure that the users activity is nether logged not tracked, the cookies are not enabled and also the browsing history is not stored. When the OS is installed for the first time and the browser is also installed, there will be an option for the user to enable this option by default. If they click on that check box, they will not have to worry about activating the ‘do not track’ option again.

Implications of This Option

It is a readily accepted fact that this feature will definitely protect the users from hackers and other cyber criminals. But there is also another industry that completely depends on tracking for their business – the marketing industry. Targeted marketing is so common today that almost every company use it. Targeted marketing is a technique in which the companies track the sites that you vast through your IP address and cookies and then allow pop ups of those relevant sites to appear on your browser. A study has shown that this technique increases the efficiency of marketing strategies by almost 47%.

With this option pre-enabled, these companies will have to come up with new ways of targeting potential customers. Target marketing was ‘once in a century’ idea and it is probably going to affect the marketing of some major companies. Let us not forget that Microsoft is also a predominantly product based company and their fortunes also rely heavily on successfully marketing their products.

How are Other Browsers Offering ‘Do Not Track’ Feature

Most leading browsers like Chrome and Firefox also have their own ‘do not track’ options. However, the companies allow the user to have control of this option. If the user wants to stop cookies/tracking online or allow it, they can do so. This approach is in contrast to what Microsoft has set out to do where the company is deciding for us.

What Does this Mean for the Future?

Experts in the online security arena believe that this is probably how companies will approach online security in the coming days. Mozilla’s privacy leader, Alex Fowler, said that the companies will adopt this policy in the future. He is of the opinion that although privacy is a matter of choice, there is no one who is trying to highlight the fact that users should be asked before their privacy is beefed up. He said that no one cared how this issue is dealt with as long as the security measures are in place. But this does raise a question of how far this will go when companies will take matters into their own hands and design products with features that users are not aware of. All we can do for now is just wait and see.

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