MAKER OF SHINY TOYS Apple is adding a "do not track" feature to its Safari web browser, joining Microsoft, Mozilla and Google who have already implemented it in one form or another.
Apple is testing the feature in an upcoming beta release of Safari for the Lion version of Mac OS X. The release will only be available for developers initially, but reports have surfaced across the web, such as in the Wall Street Journal, that this will be a prominent feature in the next version of Safari.
As always, Apple is keeping tight-lipped on most of the details, but we know that it will be ready for consumers some time this Summer.
The US Federal Trade Commission called on all web browsers to add a "do not track" feature in December of last year. The system works by saving the user's preferences regarding advertising tracking, alerting advertisers that a person does not wish to be tracked for advertising purposes. Legislation has since been proposed in the US to enforce better communication from companies about how they are tracking customers.
Microsoft was the first to add the feature, implementing it in Internet Explorer 9. It originally had been scheduled for Internet Explorer 8, but was pulled at the last minute after pressure from advertisers.
Mozilla was next in line, adding the privacy tool to Firefox 4, which it launched last month.
Google added anti-tracking in the form of an add-on called "Keep My Opt-Outs", which sends requests to advertisers not to use their data, but it's not quite the same as having a fully integrated "do not track" feature.
Google, which is heavily dependent on advertising, seems to be dragging its feet somewhat. It has expressed interest in potentially adding a full "do not track" system to its browser at some point in the future, depending on industry discussions. µ