Responding to a recent FTC call for a Do Not Track option for web users, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it would add a new Tracking Protection feature to its upcoming Internet Explorer (IE) 9 web browser. This feature will debut in the release candidate (RC) version of the browser, which Microsoft says it will deliver in "early 2011."

"Internet Explorer 9 will include a new feature, Tracking Protection, to help consumers exercise choice and control over their information online," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Dean Hachamovitch said. "Tracking Protection puts people in control of what data is being shared as they move around the web ... enabling consumers to indicate what websites they'd prefer to not exchange information with." 

The IE 9 Tracking Protection functionality will be opt-in, Microsoft says, and will be implemented as a series of white lists of sorts. According to Hachamovitch during a demonstration of the technology Tuesday, consumers can add one or more tracking lists to IE 9, starting with the RC version. These lists will determine which web addresses can and cannot track them online. However, IE 9 will ship with no such lists installed, and finding and installing the lists will be up to the user. Anyone can publish a tracking list, Microsoft says.

This new functionality is just the latest in a long list of features, many based around web standards and performance, that Microsoft has added over the lengthy development process for this next browser. First announced way back at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in late 2008, IE 9 will likely ship in the first half of 2011. Microsoft's MIX Conference is a good bet: The 2011 rendition of that show is happening in mid-April.