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IE8 Will Contain an Accidental Ad Blocker 437

Posted by kdawson
from the inprivate-blocking dept.
JagsLive sends in a Washington Post blog post reflecting on one privacy-enhancing feature of the upcoming Internet Explorer 8, the so-called "InPrivate Blocking" that has privacy advocates quietly cheering, and advertisers seriously worrying. Here is Microsoft's description of the feature. From the Post: "The advertising industry is bracing for trouble from the next version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, details of which were announced today, because it will offer a feature that blocks some ads and other content from third-parties that shows up on Web pages. A Microsoft spokesman said that the feature, to be known as 'InPrivate Blocking,' was never designed to be an ad blocker, though 'there may be ads that get blocked.' Instead, it was designed to stop tracking 'pixels' or pieces of code that could allow third-party sites to track users as they move around the Web."
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IE8 Will Contain an Accidental Ad Blocker

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  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @02:40AM (#24748099) Homepage Journal

    The two are one and the same.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Doesn't it read a bit more like they're trying to block google analytics? Not that they're taking a direct shot at any particular company of course... maybe I'm just overly paranoid.
      • by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @02:44AM (#24748131) Homepage Journal
        Paranoid. Microsoft. One of these words is redundant.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by salmonmoose (1147735)
        Ok, it's not just me that thought that then. Does this mean that when IE8 is released, we'll all see a drop Internet Explorer users, and can stop supporting their browser because it's insignificant?
      • by jaiyen (821972) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:35AM (#24748391)

        Doesn't it read a bit more like they're trying to block google analytics? Not that they're taking a direct shot at any particular company of course... maybe I'm just overly paranoid.

        I don't think so. Google Analytics tracks many visitors to the same site, whereas this seems to be aimed at preventing tracking of the same visitor to many sites. In the MS blog it says it'll prevent the same cookie tracking you across more than 10 sites. I think the implication is that it's bad for Adsense, Doubleclick and the like as they can no longer track you through third-party cookies on dozens of sites and build up an advertising profile of you that way.

        Good for privacy of course, but as so much of the web is ad-funded is this really going to be good for the web as a whole ? I guess we'll have to wait and see on that one.

        I think it's interesting also that this is happening as Microsoft tries to become a bigger player in the internet ad business. They could use IE feature to their advantage here, as it'd be fairly easy for them to implement a scheme where all third-party cookies are limited, except for those of Microsoft and its "selected partners". Would we put it past them to do something along those lines ?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think it's interesting also that this is happening as Microsoft tries to become a bigger player in the internet ad business. They could use IE feature to their advantage here, as it'd be fairly easy for them to implement a scheme where all third-party cookies are limited, except for those of Microsoft and its "selected partners". Would we put it past them to do something along those lines ?

          Know thine enemy. Microsoft have unquestionably had numerous high level meetings about this, obviously they've alread

        • by houghi (78078) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @07:28AM (#24749547)

          Good for privacy of course, but as so much of the web is ad-funded is this really going to be good for the web as a whole ?

          Yes. Less advertisement means less people wanting to tell you how to do stuff. It also means less sites that are only there to advertise (like TV is there only to sell soap).

          Instead of the product the sites sells to their customers, the advertisers, the public will become the customer again. It could mean the end of a gazillion sites that basically copy and paste each other information. Instead of quantity, it would mean quality.

          I and all people using some sort of ad-blocking would love to have less advertisement. And I guess plenty of those who don't use them won't be upset if there were less advertisements.

          Are people so much into corporate speech that they think they can not exist except if some company is sponsoring them? Yes, there are exceptions.

          • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @12:56PM (#24753021) Journal
            If you want to be the customer, you have to pay. It's that simple. Websites need to pay bandwidth and administration costs somehow. How much are you willing to pay for the right to be a customer? That is the question. For me, I'm willing to take advertising.
      • they seam to be doing it in a sneaky way but overall this is probably a good move for users.
        microsoft have given us a built in ad-blocker
        google will push firefox more and hopefully come up with a more private way to track users ( like offering a flag to randomise cookies between sessions)

      • by rs232 (849320)
        "Doesn't it read a bit more like they're trying to block google analytics"

        I block Google Analytics because the page seems to hang on it, same with most third party advert sites. The main site seems to hang while downloading from some advert site, waiting on DoubleClick etc. Now if they incorporated this 'stuff' into a static page it would most probably improve my viewing experience and I would haven't to go to the trouble of blocking the adverts .:)

        Downloading thirty elements just to view a 6x4 inch s
  • by lecithin (745575) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @02:40AM (#24748101)

    Anybody that really wants ad blocking can do it now. Most of the people that do want it don't use IE.

    All that this changes is control of the ads that are shown in IE. Instead of some 3rd party ad, you will get an ad that is 'blessed' by microsoft (after the advertiser pays a fee to M$).

    From Microsoft's decription:

    "Have you ever wanted to take your web browsing "off the record"? Perhaps you're using someone else's computer and you don't want them to know which sites you visited. Maybe you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise. Maybe you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person using it to know at which website you bank."

    IE8 is supposed to solve all of that? Bullshit.

    Who the hell is drinking this cool-aid?

  • Step right up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icsx (1107185) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @02:47AM (#24748143)
    Get your own accidental ad blocker right now! We will block some of the ads (Google) but our own stay!
    • by thermian (1267986)

      didn't microsoft say that their email spam blocking would allow sanctioned, but still unsolicited, emails from certain trusted parties to get through?

      Since my hot mail account exists purely for the microsoft passport thing, I don't know if the account gets this sanctioned email or not.

  • Firefox Anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishyfool (854019) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @02:48AM (#24748149) Homepage Journal
    Install Firefox, whack in AdBlock , NoScript, and FlashBlock and you have more privacy and security than with IE.
    • Re:Firefox Anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rm999 (775449) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:34AM (#24748389)

      I think you mean Adblock Plus... Adblock hasn't really been updated for about 4 years

      I've found all I need is Adblock Plus with a subscription to "EasyElement+EasyList"

    • Re:Firefox Anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by utnapistim (931738) <dan.barbus@gmail.cSTRAWom minus berry> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:52AM (#24748469) Homepage

      That's what I thought also: in other words, IE will provide part of the functionality of NoScript and AdBlockPlus, starting from version 8.

      Of course, they couldn't market it as such: it would be harder to plaster "innovation" all over it.

      Marketing spin aside, this is good news: since most people still use IE, it's good that this should increase the privacy level for everyone (if implemented right, that is).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283)

      Install Firefox, whack in AdBlock , NoScript, and FlashBlock and you have more privacy and security than with IE.

      This is in addition to a good DNS and hosts file.

    • Re:Firefox Anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

      by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmat[ ].org ['ter' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @09:04AM (#24750113) Journal

      Install Firefox, whack in AdBlock , NoScript, and FlashBlock and you have more privacy and security than with IE.

      Opera 9.52 (the latest version) has popup site preferences that allow you to control whether each site can: set cookies for itself, set cookies for other sites, run java, run javascript, run flash or other plugins, use sound, use animated gifs, etc. And there are popup global settings as well in case you just need to toggle them on for a minute. Combined with the latest HOSTS file from those anti-advertising guys, it is teh lovely internets.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @02:50AM (#24748169)
    • by value_added (719364) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @04:41AM (#24748703)

      I think this is the first time I've seen someone mention privoxy among the dozens of adblock posts.

      I run privoxy on a separate machine so that it's available to every computer on my network, thereby minimising the need for installing Firefox extras. And while I'd recommend it highly (definitely a plus for over-burdened laptops when it's running elsewhere), it doesn't seem to the same job as adblock when it comes to an ad-free webpage. The Slashdot site, for example, renders with the right column being pushed down quite a distance leaving a gaping whitespace. It can be a tough choice sometimes: soul-sucking advertising, or existential emptiness.

  • Then again, it might just "accedently" dissapear from the final build...
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:09AM (#24748261)
    back in the early days of the web, if a website was 500k in TOTAL is was large. now days chewing 10 megs on a single site is nothing, most of it is ads and very little content. all of this is paid for by us, without our permission. so what if a website is offering free content in exchange for banner hits, they don't ask me if i'd like to be tracked and bombarded with ads for the pleasure of it first do they, in fact i'm pretty sure if websites started placing a front page stating you had to unblock ads and allow 50 doubleclick cookies to be placed not many people would visit them. So cry me a fucking river if they go broke from all the ad blocking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by finity (535067)

      Stop your whining. Your "10 megs" of ads example is ridiculous. Use lynx if you're just dying for the old days.

      Next you'll be shouting for us to get off your Internet, darn kids.

    • by nitroamos (261075) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:44AM (#24748433)

      From the perspective of companies, they consider that your eyeballs on their ads is a fair trade for giving you access to their content. If they provided you with an opt-in model for advertising, we agree, their revenue stream would collapse and they'd cry. Then their content would disappear, and you (average population) would cry.

      It's silly to expect them to give you content and get nothing in return. If your view was purely principled, you wouldn't go to their sites, and then you don't have to worry about it.

  • by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:21AM (#24748319)
    This has far reaching implications for all browsers. If you can't track a huge portion of the pie using google/yahoo analytics then it makes no since using 3rd party tracking software. The user in me cheers, the site administrator in me cringes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      This has far reaching implications for all browsers. If you can't track a huge portion of the pie using google/yahoo analytics then it makes no since using 3rd party tracking software. The user in me cheers, the site administrator in me cringes.

      That's why I've gone back to parsing the Apache logs. It really contains 99% of what you need: the user agent and referer. As I design for 800-1680 width screens, the user screen size does not matter to me. I use the referer to know who's linking to me, what keywords they searched from, and to know if this is a new session or not. If there is no referer then I set a cookie to track session.

      The apache logs are great, and really include most of the info one needs. Tip: if you can host non-html pages (css, js,

  • by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:22AM (#24748323)
    This program won't block all ads. It will just block those ads that are geared towards non-Microsoft products! Furthermore, this browser will be smart enough to actually rewrite ads on the fly. So an ad for a Linux cluster will appear as an ad for a cluster running 10,000 licensed copies of Windows Vista Enterprise. I think everyone will be happy about this.
  • If IE8 either accidentally or purposefully blocks the intrusive pop-over ads that float over a website's content (what scatter brained nut actually looks at a finished product with such an ad and goes, 'yep, our reader base won't be utterly pissed when this happens') then I think I might just be a full convert to IE8's camp. Now I realize that other web browsers may have that functionality now, but super-mainstream-government-institutions (like this here Air Force) will never allow any browser but Internet
  • Obviously... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KlausBreuer (105581) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:26AM (#24748353) Homepage

    ...there will be lots of comments along the lines of "Hey, I use Adblock Plus, it's good!".

    I'll admit that I more or less forgot about advertising on the 'net, and was quite horrified when I saw somebody browsing without an ad blocker. The screen was crammed with idiotic messages, stupid images, blathering animations. The net actually looks completely messed-up, swamped in advertisements (most of them obviously created by waaaay-below-average-IQ people).

    Sheesh, am I glad I found an ad blocker. Blocking some data actually makes the net more useful (as long as it isn't the state defining what is to be blocked).

  • by cheros (223479) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @03:55AM (#24748483)

    The giveaway is the word "subscription" - Apple got itself a slice to mobile phone revenue by means of the iPhone, MS is trying it again with ad revenue now the Yahoo deal fell through (who do you think will feel ad blocking most? (OK, "selective" ad blocking, I'm willing to bet it won't take long before the "trusted partner" scam will show up)*.

    I suspect that that "possibility" will become mandatory to "maintain browsing security". You're welcome to it. Just a quick reminder: Automatic Updates led to the WGA disaster, so I wouldn't invest *too* much trust in it.

    And remember: these are just tools - they are not an excuse to avoid using your brain.

    *: I may be harsh here, but it's not like we're talking about a sterling track record here. I believe it when I see it.

  • by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @04:02AM (#24748511) Homepage
    Not just the new IE8 blocking, but all forms of ad blocking? Seems unfair to destroy the business models of so many websites. Maybe it's just me, but ads on sites like Digg or Slashdot don't even remotely bother me. Who am I to block their ads when I'm receiving free content?

    I admit I do run a site myself and this sort of thing worries me. I have just two ads per page, both google ads, one leaderboard and a wide skyscraper. They aren't even remotely intrusive, and are there just to pay the bandwidth bills. For those complaining about bloated sites, my biggest page is just 10k without the ads. I'm currently a long way away from being affected by this, as 90% of my users are still using IE6, but it does concern me that I might have to shut down a free service because people can't handle two ads.

    I know things like adblock are designed for really intrusive ads like those obnoxious animated overlays, but the problem is reasonable ads get blocked as well.

    I wonder if there is any legal recourse for sites like Digg or companies like Google who are hurt by this sort of thing. Especially Google, as I highly doubt this whole thing is an "accident".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrMr (219533)
      Nope.
      The business model of these websites is not much better than theft. They sell my viewing time with a profit to advertisers, who sell it with a profit to manufacturers, who make may pay for the advertising costs by marking up the product price.
      So I've paid for all the parasites already, and now I have to waste my time actually watching their drivel?
  • MS are hypocrites (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fatphil (181876)
    Follow the link to MSDN. Check the images it serves you:

    http://c.microsoft.com/trans_pixel.aspx?TYPE=PV&r=http%3a%2f%2fslashdot.org%2f

    Yes, it's a transparent 1x1 pixel GIF.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Your.Master (1088569)

      It's not hypocrisy. It would be hypocrisy if they said "transparent 1x1 pixel GIFs are evil and we're here to put a stop to them". If you RTFA, they say instead (paraphrased), "we think you normally want to allow transparent 1x1 pixel GIFs to track your data, but for the rare occasion when you don't such as [list that conspicuously does not include porn surfing], here's a mechanism to maintain your privacy.

  • by bytesex (112972) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @04:32AM (#24748657) Homepage

    But when you read an article about it, it seems perfectly reasonably stuff; 'sandbox' your session against cookie- and form-storage, block annoying trackers - all part of the standard browser ! There's no pretense of 'total security and/or anonymity' here, people, so stop whining.

  • by magusnet (951963) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @04:42AM (#24748707)

    I can barely contain the mixed feelings I have over this issue and some of the juvenile responses. Right now I more annoyed with the Linux/Open Source/EFF advocates that can't give a simple acknowledgment to a step forward of the end-users' protection and privacy IE8 may.

    One thing I can say before going back to replaying Halo 2 on my now decommissioned Beowulf cluster is, "Good job Microsoft for trying to protect 75+% of the worlds Internet users".

    I am personally grateful that the users of our 1000+ Linux, Solaris, BSD server farm are better protected.

    Let's remember there is no such thing as a free lunch. Some where, some how, the bill must be paid. Until socialism or communism govern the Internet some level of commercial advertising will need to be tolerated in order to pay the bill in order to keep the "lights and water" running.

    --magus
    (not to be confused with magu$)

  • by uebernoob (1351439) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:21AM (#24748929)
    A Microsoft Ad Blocker that only works by accident.
  • Why the bashing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:32AM (#24748985)
    This seems like a pretty good feature.

    Not everyone wishes to pointblank block adverts but few people want the shady and legally quesitonable tracking techniques some ads used gathering their details, especially those that get around strict cookie rules/settings.

    However I find it amusing that people still find ways to bash Microsoft over this. It's a sensible privacy feature. If you want to block ads completely, fine, we all know that firefox can do that amazingly (at least until it's widespread enough for ad providers to start making their clients use an impossible to block local caching system) but this a smart feature for those who don't wish to block ads completely.

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @05:34AM (#24749001)

    There is difference between ad blocking and tracking blocking.

    This identifies 3rd party code that keeps track of users browsing habits, and allows the user to reject being tracked.

    Google would be hurt by this, as Google is NOT just about displaying ads, but displaying 'contextual' ads that it gets from not only the site content but the user viewing the site, based on the user's browsing history stored at Google.

    Check out the Channel9 interview for more information and the intent of this.
    http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/Charles/IE-8-Beta-2-Privacy-is-about-more-than-cookies/ [msdn.com]

    It would be 'easy' to paint MS as being evil, but in reality, this is a feature that 'exposes' the evil that exists all over the web, from pixel tracking systems to full ad user tracking systems like Google uses.

    If Google or other online advertisers wants to display Ads, and not be affected by this, then display Ads and STOP TRACKING USERS along with the Ads.

    • I'm almost certain I'll get called a Google fanboy (or maybe even a shill) for this comment, but here goes...

      Google's style of advertising is the ONLY advertising I'm interested in seeing, precisely BECAUSE it tracks me and specifically targets me. They offer ads that are RELEVANT to me - things I actually MIGHT be interested in. If I don't want them to track me, I'll tweak the relevant settings in my browser's settings/plugins. I'm quite happy for Google to do so though (just recently, after I received an email about a new card I'm playing with some friends, I was given a nice text ad on the top of my gmail that linked me to an online version of the game - excellent advertising, because it's something I actually wanted!)

      • by BasharTeg (71923) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @10:20AM (#24751015) Homepage

        That's great, you can turn that feature off in IE8, don't run IE8, and/or don't run any adblockers / tracking blockers. If you want to be tracked, be tracked! I just think it should be an opt-in choice not an opt-out choice. But that train left the station a long time ago, so we need tools (esp mainstream tools like IE features defaulting to on) to put a hurt on this business model of tracking people for profit.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:25AM (#24749261) Homepage

    Bravo for Microsoft! The feature doesn't affect honest advertising at all.

    Anyone who wants to put up a straightforward ad, presenting information about a product and letting me decide whether I'm interesting in learning more and buying it, can still do so.

    This only affects companies who are doing more than just advertising.

    The fact that this is being described as an "ad" blocker just shows that advertising practices on the Web have become so debased that writers about the Web simply take it for granted that anything under the guise of advertising is likely to be invested with snooper gadgets that gather information about us without our knowledge.

    That's not advertising. That's spying. "Advertising" is just the cover story.

  • by m2bord (781676) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @06:55AM (#24749379) Homepage Journal

    look guys...ms will cave and remove this if advertisers complain loudly enough. there is a reason why many sites are run out of the marketing department. sites are mostly for marketing and the metrics that marketers can get from users are the primary reasons why they run sites.

    it's this simple...if Stalin, Hitler, or Pol Pot had a tool that would allow them to see every book their citizens read, every item their citizens bought, or everything that was done, they would have retained absolute power over their populaces.

    this is what marketers are attempting to do. create a dominance over you that television, newspaper, or any other medium has never been able to do before.

  • by Legion303 (97901) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @09:23AM (#24750305) Homepage

    "'It has the potential to undermine the economies of the Internet,' said Mike Zaneis, vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau."

    Go kill yourself, you worthless festering sore on society's anus.

    The advertising industry could have been responsible from the start, but they chose to incur a backlash of end users who got sick of sneaky tactics like popups and pop-unders. Advertisers who whine that end users no longer tolerate ads make me laugh.

    Seriously, choke on your failure and die. You fuck.

  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Tuesday August 26, 2008 @09:40AM (#24750551)

    So Microsoft is actually listening to it's customers right?

    But I still think we will have plenty of MS bashing here...

    I for one and glad that they are "attempting" to provide what people want.

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