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    Microsoft: Google thwarted Internet Explorer privacy settings

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    Microsoft is alleging that Google has been sidestepping Internet Explorer privacy controls designed to prevent third-party websites from tracking users' browsing habits.

    Writing on a company blog on Monday, Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of the software maker's Internet Explorer web browser, claimed Google exploited a loophole in the Platform for Privacy Preferences, or P3P. It's a protocol used by Internet Explorer that asks a website for its privacy policy, which is provided in a coded form understood by the web browser. Sites that have a policy of tracking visitors, done by way of small files called "cookies" installed on users' computers, are blocked from doing so. In order to fool the check, Google sites provide Internet Explorer with a hyperlink to a Google support page that explains its tracking measures, which is only readable by humans.

    Google spokesperson Rachel Whetstone fired back, claiming that the P3P protocol, used by Microsoft since 2002, does not accommodate "modern web functionality" such as Google +1 and Facebook "like" buttons, which allow signed-in users to flag things around the web. Whetstone also noted that 11,000+ Internet sites are not complying with P3P, citing a 2010 independent report.

    The dust-up follows similar reports last week that Google circumvented privacy settings on Apple's web browser, Safari.