back to article Microsoft to protect furtive web searches

Microsoft's been accused of many things in its time, but guardian of porn hunters has never been one. That could change with Internet Explorer 8, however. The company has applied for two trademarks in the US that if granted could hide where you've been and what it is you've been looking at with Microsoft's browser. IE could …


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  1. James Butler
    Gates Horns

    Holy Crap!

    Both Cleartracks and Inprivate are about clearing the history. Inprivate will also clear the cache and suggest ways to get around certain Parental Controls, or something to that effect.

    My goodness, what if someone has already developed these and are actively using them in existing browsers, like Firefox, Opera, Flock or Safari?

    These definitely require patent protection. It must be fun to have first worked to integrate Parental Controls with the OS, and now have to develop a way around them ...


    "computer programs for accessing and using the Internet and the world wide web; and computer programs for deleting search history after accessing websites"


    "computer programs for accessing and using the Internet and the world wide web; computer programs for disabling the history and file caching features of a web browser; and computer software for notifying a user of a web browser when others are tracking web use and for controlling the information others can access about such use"

  2. Alastair Smith

    Other use cases

    > Privacy can help if you want to research ... a "medical condition" ... [or] the purchase of, say, an engagement ring. Also, you might want to take precautions when sharing a PC with complete strangers in an internet cafe.

    Or downloading "The Anarchist's Cookbook" or the Al-Qaeda Training Manual, or "Mein Kampf", "The Communist Manifesto", etc., etc., etc., whilst studying for a Political Science degree or similar.

    I remember when I was studying for an A-Level in Government and Politics about 6 years ago, I had to research anarchism and was unable to do so on the college computers because all the anarchist organisations' websites had been blocked by the "inappropriate sites' filter". This was before Wikipedia, unfortunately.

    Finally, a reason to *contemplate* using IE.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not to mention of course

    You might be doing a web search for "Divorce"

    There was an alledgedly true story of a lawyer who sent a courtesy letter to his client saying that he just wanted to reassure him that his divorce was being worked on tirelessly. It was opened by his wife who had no idea.

  4. Graham Marsden


    Just download Firefox Portable, run it from a USB stick and you'll not leave any embarrassing/ incriminating evidence in your address bar or hard drive cache!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Evidence Eliminator sounds like you are hiding something...but now my pr0ns are belong to me!

  6. Martin Gregorie

    Not that great

    ...because this only protects you from snooping by your nearest and dearest.

    It doesn't do anything about external pests such as Phorm, GCHQ, or the Governments' Great Data Silo, though fortunately that is unlikely to work.

  7. Geoff Mackenzie

    If the patents are granted?

    "If the patents are granted, IE could join Safari in allowing a feature affectionately known as "porn mode"."

    Er ... so they'll only do this if they can arrange that nobody else can? And what they're trying to patent is Safari's behaviour? Something very odd and Microsofty about that.

    Software patents suck.

  8. Jeff Deacon
    Dead Vulture


    Does this meant that index.dat, those files that are so essential to Windows operating systems that it is almost impossible to delete them, are in fact not so essential after all?

  9. Marvin the Martian
    Dead Vulture

    A program to push the erase button, wow!

    Several commentors see the use in avoiding controls ("parental controls in OS", "accessing blocked sites at uni") where it obviously does no such thing --- it just goes to Preferences and clicks ClearCacheNow and ClearHistory. [I'm amazed and disappointed they didn't build a robot to move the mouse to actually do this.]

    OK, true, it's mildly more sneaky --- an empty cache and history show you've deleted it, not recording in the first place is far better --- but it's not like it installs a proxyserver to evade any controls.

  10. Eddie Edwards
    Gates Horns

    I'm old enough

    I'm old enough to remember when browsers didn't store your history in the first place, or try to auto-complete URLs.

    Now they want a patent for ... not doing that?!

    Prior use is Mosaic 1.0, shurely?!

  11. Nigel

    The right way ...

    ... to do browsing that you don't want to embarass you is to get the (free beer) VMware Player and one of the browser appliances, and use (a copy of) that. After you're done, blow the "polluted" potentially incriminating copy away.

    Of course, you've still left footprints all over the net that the powers that be can find, but at least co-users of your PC won't.

  12. JC


    I don't believe it, MS is probably doing what they always have, trying to create a perception and belief about something that isn't real.

    I think what they mean is "we're trying more than ever to hide access to an owner's system, but the data is still there as always".

    Past track record shows this, you can't even browse history or cookies like normal files because they deliberately too steps to prevent it.

    Sorry MS, don't feed me your BS, fix your past mistakes before you can ever expect confidence in future (anything).

  13. A J Stiles
    Paris Hilton

    What gives?

    Surely if the computer is shared, each user will have their own account and be unable to view anything in any other user's account (there's been this little utility called "chmod" in most operating systems for awhile now; surely to goodness Windows has something like it) ?

    It won't keep the root user out, but then that's why Iceweasel has a "clear private data" option.

    Anyway, if this doesn't get rejected on the grounds of obviety (even to Paris Hilton) then the entire staff of the USPTO need to be terminated with extreme prejudice.

  14. Gordon Pryra

    @A J Stiles

    How many home users acutally have different profiles for each user?

    And if they do, why?

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