I'm not sure about what all of the latest enhancements to Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 are supposed to be, but there's one that clearly makes it a worthwhile upgrade for me, and that's privacy.

Privacy, in this case, actually means granting user control over how the browser responds to attempts to place cookie files on your computer by the web sites you visit.

These "cookies" are really just small data files that often are used to keep track of such things as user preferences. However, they can also contain more personal information, including credit card data, passwords and other sensitive information.

Cookies are not inherently bad, but they are certainly used more often than most individuals realize and they can pose some legitimate privacy issues.

Using IE 6.0 control over how your browser handles cookies can be found under the Tools and then Internet Options menus.

Once there, you will see options that range from "Accept All Cookies" to "Block All Cookies" - neither of which is likely a good choice.

While you can review the options and then choose the setting that you're most comfortable with, my preference is "High" which is fairly restrictive and protective of your privacy and will thwart potential tracking of your movements on the web.

It is important to note that there are many sites that will be blocked by the higher security settings, though you might want to grant cookie writing access to some of them, and for a number of reasons. For example: sites that you visit regularly and have either personalized the appearance of or need a password to access would likely qualify as sites that you might want to allow to place cookies on your system.

For these sites, the writing of cookies helps keep track of your user preferences and passwords and in this case, the use of cookies actually makes Internet surfing both more enjoyable and productive.

To achieve this site-specific granting of cookie permission, IE 6.0 includes the ability to "allow" any site you specify to circumvent the restrictive settings that you impose on web sites in general.

Thus, when you visit a site that needs the ability to utilize cookies (for whatever reason) and you feel this to be both beneficial and acceptable, you can specifically allow this site cookie-writing permission.

This unique combination of privacy features in IE 6.0 allows you to easily protect your personal data in general, yet without causing any extra inconveniences for you when accessing sites that you use regularly and trust.

All in all, the new Privacy section is a very thoughtful and balanced feature and makes the upgrade to the latest version quite worthwhile.

Users of recent versions of Internet Explorer can obtain the update by accessing the Tools and Windows Update menus from within their browser, while others can simply visit:



Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale