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Microsoft to protect furtive web searches

IE porn medical research mode

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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 thus join Safari in allowing a feature affectionately known as "porn mode".

Blogger Long Zheng picked up two filings from Microsoft for Cleartracks and Inprivate. Cleartracks would potentially delete your viewing history, and Inprivate would disable history and file caching and tell you if your viewing activities are being tracked.

Naturally, there's a perfectly innocent explanation for wanting to view content in private and to call such a feature "porn mode" is a gross simplification, according to browser experts at Mozilla.

Privacy can help if you want to research, ahem, a "medical condition" - and don't want the person you're with logging on to your machine and finding out. The same thing goes for someone trying to hide 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.

Microsoft has refused to comment on features in IE 8, beyond what it's already discussed. A second, "consumer-focused" beta is due this month. Microsoft released code targeting developers in the spring. ®

*Correction: Microsoft filed for two trademarks, not patents, as we originally wrote.

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