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Playing Around With Tracking Protection In IE9 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the accessing-the-defences dept.
Roberto123 writes "I have tried out the Tracking Protection feature in the coming Internet Explorer 9 browser from Microsoft. While the feature does effectively block ads from Web sites, I'm not yet convinced that giving the users the options to select content to 'Block' or 'Allow' will be that effective."
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Playing Around With Tracking Protection In IE9

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  • Getting rid off all the crappy and misleading ads is a plus for IE 9. TFA was vague if it was turned on as default or not. Even if people will have to turn it on, they might realize the benefits.
    • by Baseclass (785652)
      Personally, I don't want to see ad-blocking go main stream (I feel the same way about Linux too, but that's another rant)
      Over the years I've become quite adept at writing rules for adblock to block ads, trackers, and otherwise undesirable content.
      This will only serve to make advertisers come up ways to make advertising more difficult to block and ultimately more obtrusive.
      • Personally, I don't want to see ad-blocking go main stream

        Don't worry, IE9 will never be mainstream. People will stick with IE6 at workplaces, Firefox/Chrome/Opera/etc. at home and webkit browsers on mobiles. Even Microsoft's own mobile OS don't and most likely won't use IE9 rendering engine, much less features.

  • Hooray (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Begin the Microsoft bashing for giving users more options that resemble functionality available in Firefox (with addons)!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Give me the option of blocking all of Microsoft partner's ads while keeping Google's and I will consider installing it, not being mandated by the operating system's pre-installed browser. Who needs a content filter on their PC?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    An nodoubt it will have a backdoor to allow tracking by Bing

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @10:32PM (#35335058)
    If Microsoft suddenly get good ad blocking - as in, really good ad blocking, they could completely cut off all oxygen from Google. Of course, MS also makes some money from web advertising, but they don't need it to live like Google does. Also, it really would improve the quality of the user experience in IE if this were done well and thoroughly.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Please download Chrome to continue viewing the site (with ads).

    • However, it would be trivial to make sites unusable unless advertisements are enabled. This is where all of the ad blocking is leading to I think.
      • by igb (28052) on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:14AM (#35335826)
        Actually, it wouldn't. You can normally write a computer program to mimic any human interaction within a browser. There are exceptions, but if content-providers were to move to (say) captchas in adverts prior to serving content, they would be writing their own death warrant: even if they didn't get killed by related providers who didn't impose this load, the simple (im) practicalities and (un) reliability of captchas would mean that far fewer people would read the page, unless it was utterly indispensable.

        Ad-supported models are inherently brittle. They rely on advertisers being willing to purchase space, because they believe it to be worth their while. If consumers are unwilling to watch (and, indeed, act on) adverts, the magic money tree suddenly goes bare. No amount of howling that people who skip adverts are "stealing" content will put the fruit back on it. In the UK --- I don't know enough about the US --- the PVR has essentially killed one of the advertising-supported channels (ITV) to the point that its target demographic is now variously the old, poor and stupid who cannot manage a PVR. The smaller advertising-supported channels (ITV2/3/4, say) contain nothing but debt consolidation and personal injury shark adverts, and no-one with a post-16 education would find anything they might want to buy, even if they watched the adverts, which they don't. Unable to see their model is in a death spiral, the owners chase to the bottom, with programming aimed at the diminishing pool of viewers who are prepared to watch. The same is happening with Channel 5, while Channel 4 (which isn't directly ad-supported, but is indirectly ad-supported because as well as its own, small, advertising sales it is funded by a levy on ITV) has seen the writing on the wall and is desperately seeking funding as a top-slice on the BBC license income.

        TV is progressively going subscription. Yes, some of the subscription channels also show adverts, but that's gravy, in the manner of adverts in cinemas, and they could live without it by just raising their subscriptions. It's only a matter of time before "free", advertising-supported, web content goes the same way. How are AOL these days?

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          However, it would be trivial to make sites unusable unless advertisements are enabled. This is where all of the ad blocking is leading to I think.

          Actually, it wouldn't. You can normally write a computer program to mimic any human interaction within a browser.

          What is true is that you can make sites untrivial to use unless advertisements are enabled. There's a TON of sites that don't work unless you allow all scripts. Maybe they're actively checking to see if scripts have been downloaded from their ad delivery sites, I'm not sure; I do know that I've been blacklisting a lot of results from google searches because even after I enable all the domains I feel safe with, they don't deliver me any content.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As consumers, we don't really want that. That will lead to : "Gmail can no longer be offered free from [some date about a 3 months from now that is long enough to give time to move in theory, but not practically]. Our usage data tracks that Gmail is used for about 80% of time that you run Windows. Accordingly the license price is 150 Euro. Upgrades cost more".

      Oh dear....

    • by Wiiboy1 (1699132)

      If Microsoft suddenly get good ad blocking - as in, really good ad blocking, they could completely cut off all oxygen from Google. Of course, MS also makes some money from web advertising, but they don't need it to live like Google does. Also, it really would improve the quality of the user experience in IE if this were done well and thoroughly.

      Problem being that, in doing so, they would cut off oxygen to every site on the internet that uses ads for revenue (probably some massive percentage).

      That's what bother me about ad blocking. As the owner of a small site that will be paid for by ad revenue (because I'm broke), I see this as an extremely bad thing. Maybe good from a consumer perspective, but bad from any other.

      And as someone else said, it's possible many website owners would just tell anyone using IE w/ ad blocking to either jump off a clif

      • by weicco (645927)

        And as someone else said, it's possible many website owners would just tell anyone using IE w/ ad blocking to either jump off a cliff or switch to, say, Chrome.

        Switch to Chrome and install adblock, just as I did? ;)

        • by delinear (991444)
          I think even that would be a happy compromise for those sites - after all it's the current position and it seems to work (besides, people who hate ads enough to jump through the additional hoops probably wouldn't buy anyway). What isn't in anyone's interests is for the major browser to block all ads by default - I say this as someone who has had adblock installed almost from day one but rarely uses it. I don't mind site owners getting paid based on my viewing their content but it's also nice to know I have
    • If it is a nuclear option, then I better be hangin' with my ohmies.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>If Microsoft suddenly get good ad blocking - as in, really good ad blocking, they could completely cut off all oxygen from Google.

      You do realize that "tracking protection" (what TFA is about) and "ad blocking" are two different things, right?

      It is entirely possible to block tracking without blocking ads, and vice versa.

      In Firefox terms, it is the difference between Ghostery and AdBlock Plus.

    • by syousef (465911)

      If Microsoft suddenly get good ad blocking - as in, really good ad blocking, they could completely cut off all oxygen from Google. Of course, MS also makes some money from web advertising, but they don't need it to live like Google does. Also, it really would improve the quality of the user experience in IE if this were done well and thoroughly.

      Google would just get really good at detecting Ad blocking and refuse to serve search results and other content if you block their ads.

    • I totally agree - this move is a direct attack on Google. This was my first thought when I read the article title - When is MS going to use their b(tr)illions to make a good product without resorting to half-assed copying and underhanded moves?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The ability to block or allow specific web content was in a little-known product called AtGuard by WRQ ten years ago. It was pretty awesome. If IE 9 is anything like it, everybody will be using it.

  • It's really not about if the option will be effective. Its really about the user and level of competency with computers that despite the years of integration of tech, maybe users are a FAIL.

  • Ad tracking reminds me of scanning a printout. It is suboptimal and error-prone.

    Because dogs have a hard time sniffing explosives such as Semtex, the manufacturers are legally bound to inject a chemical in the explosive so the dogs can detect them. I know the internets cannot be tamed like explosive manufacturers, but if some ad tagging standard was published by the W3C or some other organization, real, efficient, cross-platform ad-blocking could happen.

    Until then, ad tracking is an amazing field for data-m

  • Chestnuts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Monday February 28, 2011 @12:05AM (#35335454) Journal
    Derived from an old chestnut. [craphound.com]

    Your post advocates a

    (X) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting Internet Tracking. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    (X) Trackers can easily use it to identify those they want to track the most
    (X) User preferences and other legitimate tracking uses would be affected
    (X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop tracking for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of the Web will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (X) Requires too much cooperation from trackers
    (X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    (X) Many Web users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    (X) Trackers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for web tracking
    ( ) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all IP addresses
    (X) Asshats
    (X) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    (X) Huge existing software investment in shopping carts
    (X) Susceptibility of protocols other than HTTP to attack
    (X) Willingness of users to install browser plugins
    (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    (X) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (X) Extreme profitability of web tracking
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (X) Technically illiterate politicians
    (X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with affiliate programs
    (X) Dishonesty on the part of trackers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) IE

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    (X) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    (X) HTML headers should not be the subject of legislation
    (X) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Browsing should be free
    (X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    (X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time IP addresses are cumbersome
    (X) I don't want the government reading my tracking preferences
    (X) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!

  • by 517714 (762276) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:34AM (#35335728)
    Linux users run Firefox because they are so smart, Mac users run Safari because they are brainwashed, Windows users still run IE6 since their IT department won't let them upgrade, and there's that guy who runs Opera.
  • by Invisible Now (525401) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:41AM (#35335760)
    No ads = less diverse content. There will be unintended consequences. If one person blocks ads then they're just a free-rider. If everyone does, the web will really suck. Sure, some sweet folks will continue to post hobby sites, just as in the golden days of yore. And non-profits will publish. And big corporate sales and propaganda sites. And the Government and lobbyists. (BTW: They're all selling you something, aren't they?) But most of what makes the web diverse and useful and free today will die if advertising is eliminated. You don't have to click, just like you don't have to listen or look at ads in conventional free media. I'm sure that is seen as a victory for some, but not me. Almost all the cool, independent sites will wither. Maybe a few rich kids can keep BoingBoing alive, but... What may happen is what I would do with my ad supported but still public-serving sites. Block the ads that enable me to give you content: No access to the site. You'll never know what you're missing.
    • by symbolset (646467) *

      Tracking is good. It enables ad providers to provide ads that are for stuff you might want rather than random ads. Your experience becomes a field of desireable things rather than a field of lollipops interspersed with landmines.

      Tracking is bad. It enables evil corporations to compile a dossier of what you like and target your weaknesses. It's an opportunity for vendors to dig into your subconscious even more then they do already and trick you into buying things that aren't what you want by presenting

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Superdarion (1286310)

      No ads = less diverse content.

      No, you see, people who look for add-ons like adblock don't do it to freeride the internet. Most of us are actually willing to see (and, god help us all, click) adds in the websites we visit. That's all fine and pretty. The problem arises when some stupid sites start doing flash-based advertisements; big, flashy, cpu-consuming, epilepsy-inducing, "facebook of sex" banners that keep making my head hurt and that occupy most of the real-state in a website.

      Or do you think that any regular user will seek adbl

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Most of us are actually willing to see (and, god help us all, click) adds in the websites we visit

        [citation needed]
        Sorry, but i can pull facts out of my ass too.

        Most people are lazy and will just grab the biggest lists, and as many as possible, to get rid of ads because you people pushed it so hard.

        Don't want to see flash ads? FLASHBLOCK.
        Don't like ads that abuse Javascript? NOSCRIPT.
        There was never a need for Adblock. I've never used it, and i never will.
        Most advertisers are perfectly fine, besides the odd one who abuses GIFs by making them have a high framerate.
        But even that is seriously low now

        • If a site is blocking me based on a browser plug-in I use, they really must not want my time and potentially even money. Users benefit to sites in more ways than clicks. Slashdot understands that, and lets people with high karma to disable ads. They understand that these people bring value beyond their clicks and ad impressions.
        • by improfane (855034) *

          Sounds like you run a website and make $$$ from advertising.

          CEO Jones, you can't fool us!

        • So, you suggest that instead of Adblock I go and install Flashblock and Noscript AND go manually edit my Hosts file, which would mean going around looking for the actual domain of the culprit ad? And you say there's no need for adblock?

          Using flashblock means blocking all flash, which is not something I want. Using Noscript creates a similar problem. Whitelisting sites is posible with those two, I think, but then so it is with adblock.

          That simple "like/dislike" interfase you speak of already exists in
    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday February 28, 2011 @03:21AM (#35336008) Homepage

      I had to read your post twice, because it made absolutely no sense to me. Then, I realized I understood you - I still don't think it makes sense.

      No ads = less diverse content.

      When I think of "sites with ads" I think of: sites like cracked.com, link aggregators, and facebook - sites with no content of value

      There will be unintended consequences. If one person blocks ads then they're just a free-rider. If everyone does, the web will really suck.

      Unsubstantiated claim. On what basis do you make it? The absence of twitter, facebook and the like is hardly a game-stopper.

      Sure, some sweet folks will continue to post hobby sites, just as in the golden days of yore. And non-profits will publish. And big corporate sales and propaganda sites. And the Government and lobbyists. (BTW: They're all selling you something, aren't they?) But most of what makes the web diverse and useful and free today will die if advertising is eliminated.

      Wait - I'm completely lost by these statements. Aren't these "will still be around" sites the actual content on the Internet - the stuff that brought us all here in the first place? By your Slashdot UUID it would seem you're likely old enough to remember the days of dialup and maybe even BBSes; surely "the web" isn't more functionally useful now to you than it was back then? Honestly: it was easier to find stuff back then because there was a lot less noise (at least now that google has insisted on making their search engine less functional than astavista).

      There will still be sites like Debka and WND, which get most of their revenue through syndication and memberships - if that's what you'd miss. CNN, Fox News and the like would likely be cut down to size if the syndicated adverts were all gone, as well. Wikipedia, by far the most useful "modern" web source? No ads to speak of, so 'blocking' them isn't a matter.

      But even if that happens, getting rid of "all ads" is unlikely to happen. Honestly: I hope it doesn't happen.

      Let me explain. I'm really adverse to ads. They bother me on a 'ok, now my eyes are twitching and i need a cigarette' level. However, within specific contexts, I appreciate them. For instance, I went to the trouble of disabling ad blocking on a couple sites I frequent because:

      1) the sites were small: either community or proprietor run, with strong communities
      2) the ads were communally targeted (ie for the group/community interests)
      3) the ads were specifically picked/allowed by the site proprietors/owners/managers
      4) the ads weren't intrusive or excessive

      If advertisers hadn't decided to nuke users from orbit for short-term monetary gain, the popularity (and capability) of ad blocking software would've never come to be. They dug their own grave: they're providing nothing useful to their customers at this point, and need to re-think their business. (This goes for Google as well. Their ad noise is worse now than AltaVista was when I decided to stop using them.)

      • No ads = less diverse content.

        When I think of "sites with ads" I think of: sites like cracked.com, link aggregators, and facebook - sites with no content of value

        Slashdot has ads. If you pay, or have high karma, they go away, but they are there.

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
      I think too many people turn this into a false dilemma. It isn't block all ads or allow all ads.

      In fact, it would be a valuable feedback to a ad producing company to see numbers on how many times their ads are blocked.

      I use ad-Block and a hostfile. But I don't just arbitrarily block everything. What gets killed on my computer are advertisements that look like freaking Llamatron, or completely stupid ones that annoy the hell out of you trying to get you to click on them. Well behaved ads even get a look

  • Whiiiiiiich is exactly why I use chrome.
  • Is IE 9 avaible? right now?
  • Since it is now in all major browsers, I wonder how the idiots running the "why firefox is blocked" campaign are going to react. Maybe they will now block the internet.

  • Is there any irony in a site with an article about tracking-protection having (according to Ghostery) 10 trackers?

    Can any web-masters on /. explain why some sites (especially "magazine" sites) have so damn many trackers? How many ad-networks do you subscribe to?

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