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8/31/2006
01:36 PM
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'Browzar' Keeps Web-Surfing History Private

A U.K. startup has launched a customized browser designed to protect users' privacy by automatically deleting cookies and discarding all traces of a Web session.

A U.K. startup on Thursday launched a customized browser designed to protect users' privacy by automatically discarding all traces of a Web session.

Named "Browzar," the 264K application runs on Windows systems equipped with Internet Explorer 5.5 or later. IE is required because Browzar employs its rendering engine. Browzar sidesteps privacy concerns by explicitly not saving files to a cache or a history log. It also deletes all cookies acquired during a session when it's closed, and because it lacks an address auto-complete feature, it doesn't store traces of URLs.

Browzar's backer is Ajaz Ahmed, who founded Freeserve, a free-of-charge U.K. Internet service provider in 1998. He sold Freeserve to France Tlcom in 2001 for $3 billion.

Browzar is small enough to download each time it's used, its makers noted on the browser's Web site, but it can also be stored on hard or flash drive, then run from there. Its primary purpose is to give users a more private way to surf than traditional Web applications like Microsoft's IE or Mozilla's Firefox.

"In today's big brother society it is easy to feel like our every move is recorded. Privacy is a hotly debated issue with the internet being somewhere that our actions leave trail that we often aren't even aware of," the developers said in the online FAQ. "The advent of consumer tools such as Browzar gives individuals the option to enjoy the freedom to surf the internet while keeping their personal details personal."

Mainstream browsers also offer features that make it easier for users to practice anonymous surfing. Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox, for example, can be set to automatically delete the browsing history and all cookies, as well as empty the cache, each time the browser is closed.

Mac and Linux versions of Browzar are planned, although no schedule for their release has been scheduled. The Windows edition can be downloaded from here.

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