Microsoft Introduces Your Privacy Type Tool
April 23, 2013

Microsoft Wants To Know Your Privacy Type

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Say what you will about the company, but Microsoft has shown that they are willing to work hard and try new things to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry. Case in point: Their newer advertising campaigns place their products in the customer´s hands and beg them to try their product themselves. The “Bing it On Challenge,” for instance, pits their search engine directly against Google´s. Last year´s “Smoked by Windows Phone” playfully taunted other smartphone platforms like Android and iOS by asking customers to complete common tasks on their handsets. The Windows Phone professional was almost always faster than his opponents.

Continuing their strong advertising push to bring people back to the browser they once used before other options became available, the Redmond company has released a new ℠tool´ called Your Privacy Type that is meant to help Internet surfers understand how they could improve their browsing behaviors. Unsurprisingly, Internet Explorer 10 has many of these privacy features — such as Do Not Track flagging — built right in. Now isn´t that convenient?

Your Privacy Type is an 11-part questionnaire which asks questions about where you access the Internet, which sites you navigate to once you´re signed on, and how much information you share over social networks. Once every question is complete, Microsoft assigns you a title like Carefree Surfer, Digital Veteran, Privacy Procrastinator or, as this writer was branded, the Moderate.

“You´re no stranger to keeping your privacy intact, and you want more choice and control over your information as you browse,” reads Microsoft´s tips for the Moderate browsing type.

The final scoring card then goes on to remind users that Internet Explorer 10 boasts some common features such as InPrivate Browsing and Tracking Protection. When using InPrivate browsing (known as Incognito Mode in Google Chrome and Private Browsing in Apple´s Safari), IE 10 does not store cookies, history or passwords used in that session. This can be helpful when buying a surprise gift for a loved one prone to snooping or when surfing on a public Wi-Fi network.

Tracking Protection sends out a Do Not Track request to the websites you visit. In theory, this should stop the sites from sending your information to third parties who serve up ℠customized content´ which, in this case, refers to advertisements tailored to your tastes based on the websites you visit. Microsoft announced last year that this Do Not Track feature would be turned on by default in IE 10, ruffling the feathers of the advertising industry that depends on tracking users. At the time advertising firms claimed that if Microsoft flipped the switch on Do Not Track and left it on by default, they´d simply ignore it and continue tracking users.

"We know that consumers care a lot about their online privacy, but often they don't know how to turn that interest into action," said Mary Snapp, Microsoft´s deputy general counsel while explaining their reasons for launching the Your Privacy Type tool.

"Our goal is to educate people about the choices they have."

The company has even rolled out a commercial designed to promote their commitment to privacy with the closing tagline “Your privacy is our priority.”

It´s never a bad idea to revisit your privacy behaviors or controls from time to time. If you´re already comfortable using a particular browser, however, you can probably find the same features there without having to switch to IE.