IE9 Tracking Protection: a built in IE9 ad blocker?

By Kip Kniskern | Posted December 7, 2010 10 comments

StopThis morning the IE team announced a new set of functionality to the upcoming Release Candidate of IE9, Tracking Protection and Tracking Protection Lists.  In short, Tracking Protection offers users (and very interesting that the IE team blog chose to use the term “consumers” instead of “users”) a set of advancements in the way that IE9 will handle tracking.  From the IE Team blog post:

Today, consumers share information with more websites than the ones they see in the address bar in their browser. This is inherent in the design of the web and simply how the web works, and it has potentially unintended consequences. As consumers visit one site, many other sites receive information about their activities (you can read more details here). This situation results from how modern websites are built; typically a website today might bring together content from many other websites, leaving the impression that the website appears to be its own entity. When the browser calls any other website to request anything (an image, a cookie, HTML, a script that can execute), the browser explicitly provides information in order to get information. By limiting data requests to these sites, it is possible to limit the data available to these sites for collection and tracking.

Certainly there are serious and legitimate privacy concerns inherent in any use of the modern internet, and Tracking Protection can be used to mitigate these concerns.  It can also be used, however, as an effective ad blocking tool, something that both Chrome and Firefox offer through plugins.

As the IE Team blog post recognizes, a common use tracking occurs with ads.  Again, from the post:

One potential downside is that some web site publishers and developers already have concerns with large numbers of visitors blocking some of the content today (usually ads). We understand this concern and have provided several ways to deal with this issue.

First, this functionality is opt-in, and by default consumers’ experience will remain the same as it is today, unless they make a decision to change it. Second, any site can make available a Tracking Protection List that creates exceptions (via “OK to Call” items) for external content that provides the full experience of the site. This TPL provides transparency to the consumer about the additional sites he will visit and share information with. Third, a site can pull external content into its own domain, so that a consumer has no need to call external sites. Lastly, networks of sites and associations can work together to create a TPL that they recommend broadly to consumers. We designed the feature so that there are ample opportunities for all the constituencies to engage in a manner consistent with their priorities and point of view.

As you can see from the link in the blockquote above, Microsoft seems to be a bit jealous of the 100 million downloads of AdBlock Plus for Firefox.  At the same time, however, Microsoft runs its own Advertising platform, who are understandably a bit defensive about this new technology, which make no mistake, is largely an ad blocker.  An opt-in ad blocker, one that isn’t advertised as such, and one with a number of partial opt-outs, but first and foremost (regardless of the spin), an ad blocker.

Microsoft proposes that “networks of sites… can work together to create a TPL” that would allow ads, but of course it’s just as feasible (and probably quite a bit more likely) that a TPL will be created to effectively shut off ads from major advertising platforms, which will work cross session and across any number of websites, with a single opt-in click.

We’re of course aware that many users don’t like ads, and to be honest we’re not all that thrilled with them ourselves (but we’re less thrilled with the prospect of funding this website out of our pockets, which is why we offer advertising on LiveSide).  This isn’t a diatribe against ad blockers, but simply a recognition that Tracking Protection and Tracking Protection Lists will offer a simple, complete, and effective way for IE9 users to block ads.

Posted December 7th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
Category: News
Tags: IE9
  • http://twitter.com/WebstyleCenter Peter van Dam

    As a web developer also earning some extra bits through advertising ain’t looking that negative to this ‘ad-blocking’ thing.

    Yes, if advertising systems don’t change, we site’s see less income because a small percentage of clickers won’t see our ads. Mostley the people who click on ads aint capable of disabling them in the first place. Not with firefox not with IE9.

    But even if many people do, do you think that for example Google doesn’t solve the issue? I’m not 100% sure but I guess they can build in ways to execute the neccisary javascript on the server itself, like a normal javascript, and send in detailed info through php to and from the google servers.

    A simple cookie on google.com could connect lots of things simply based on browser, os and ip basis. They are still giving that info. So with that, they can put in some kind of ID that is also generated when having google ads shown. With some skilled writing both systems connect the info with eachother and the problem/solution is back.

    I think it will work safer since less cross-site scripting is going on, and more is happening on server-side. Site’s can’t track any info, the browser isn’t keeping any info, it’s just still google doing it.

    Sure this sounds easy and stuff, but I think we don’t have to worry THAT much.

  • Peter van Dam

    As a web developer also earning some extra bits through advertising ain’t looking that negative to this ‘ad-blocking’ thing.

    Yes, if advertising systems don’t change, we site’s see less income because a small percentage of clickers won’t see our ads. Mostley the people who click on ads aint capable of disabling them in the first place. Not with firefox not with IE9.

    But even if many people do, do you think that for example Google doesn’t solve the issue? I’m not 100% sure but I guess they can build in ways to execute the neccisary javascript on the server itself, like a normal javascript, and send in detailed info through php to and from the google servers.

    A simple cookie on google.com could connect lots of things simply based on browser, os and ip basis. They are still giving that info. So with that, they can put in some kind of ID that is also generated when having google ads shown. With some skilled writing both systems connect the info with eachother and the problem/solution is back.

    I think it will work safer since less cross-site scripting is going on, and more is happening on server-side. Site’s can’t track any info, the browser isn’t keeping any info, it’s just still google doing it.

    Sure this sounds easy and stuff, but I think we don’t have to worry THAT much.

  • Ruben

    This is what’s needed to force new modern business models to bloggers and professional news / content-sites alike.

    Nobody likes Ads, but consumers in general like to pay for the things they enjoy. (Food, movies, cars, book, magazines etc). It’s about time the easy way out (meaning ads) are seriously challenged by one of the main players in the web-world, and maybe this will bring forth a better, more liked, profitable way of making a living provide content online.

    Not that this will change overnight, but it might be that IE is just the first brower with this functionality. Perhaps in 2 years, the ad-revenues has decreased so dramatically that sites which is too dependant on ads and not able to renew their business models will expire, as old stuff usually do.

    We can only hope! :-)

  • Ruben

    This is what’s needed to force new modern business models to bloggers and professional news / content-sites alike.

    Nobody likes Ads, but consumers in general like to pay for the things they enjoy. (Food, movies, cars, book, magazines etc). It’s about time the easy way out (meaning ads) are seriously challenged by one of the main players in the web-world, and maybe this will bring forth a better, more liked, profitable way of making a living provide content online.

    Not that this will change overnight, but it might be that IE is just the first brower with this functionality. Perhaps in 2 years, the ad-revenues has decreased so dramatically that sites which is too dependant on ads and not able to renew their business models will expire, as old stuff usually do.

    We can only hope! :-)

  • Anonymous

    Wow! This could really change the whole advertising industry.

  • Spindel

    Wow! This could really change the whole advertising industry.

  • Rob

    It is already easy to block ads on IE using simple-adblock

  • Rob

    It is already easy to block ads on IE using simple-adblock

  • Pinaatti

    Surprisingly few people, even MS bloggers, seems to know that IE8 has already an adblock feature built in the browser. It is off by default and called inprivate filtering. It is actually the same feature that IE9 offers, but in IE9 there are extra features like lists can be downloaded from the internet.

  • Pinaatti

    Surprisingly few people, even MS bloggers, seems to know that IE8 has already an adblock feature built in the browser. It is off by default and called inprivate filtering. It is actually the same feature that IE9 offers, but in IE9 there are extra features like lists can be downloaded from the internet.