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Safari on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion to include do-not-track tool

Apple has added a do-not-track privacy tool to the Safari web browser in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion that would prevent websites from monitoring users' activity, according to a new report.

Apple has joined the makers of other major browsers, with the exception of Google, in supporting a do-not-track feature, The Wall Street Journal reports. Developers have discovered the tool in the latest build of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Developer Preview 2, which was issued two weeks ago.

According to the report, the do-not-track feature, which sends messages to websites and advertising networks requesting that the user not be tracked, requires cooperation from marketers and website owners to function properly. Major online-advertising networks have yet to agree on how to handle the system.

The Mozilla-backed do-not-track standard has reportedly not yet been included as a preference option in the Mac OS X Lion prerelease version of Safari, though it can be activated from the Develop contextual menu.

Privacy matters

Online privacy has been a hot topic as of late, as politicians, security researchers and lawyers have pressed Apple and its partners for information on how both Mac OS X and iOS handle user data.

Last week, a federal grand jury served subpoenas to several prominent mobile developers for Apple's iOS and Google's Android as part of an investigation into the sharing of user data with ad networks.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs admitted last summer that the company had been "naive" about how some companies were using the data they collected. Developers had violated Apple's privacy policy by forwarding device and location data to a third party network. The practice drew Jobs' ire last year when Flurry Analytics published the data as evidence of the then-unannounced iPad.

"It's violating every rule in our privacy policy," said Jobs. "We went through the roof about this. So we said: No, we're not going to allow this. It's violating our privacy policies and its pissing us off that they're publishing data about our new products."

Last June, two U.S. Congressmen requested information from Apple regarding its privacy policy after an erroneous report suggested that Apple had begun tracking users' locations.

In February, security experts revealed that Apple had invited them to examine a prerelease version of Mac OS X Lion as part of a renewed commitment to security.

Researchers disclosed last month a vulnerability in Safari after security analyst Charlie Miller demonstrated a hack at the "Pwn2Own" hacking contest. At the competition, analysts also succeeded in hacking the iPhone, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

For more information on upcoming features in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, see AppleInsider's extensive coverage: Inside Mac OS X Lion.