A new entrant to the crowded Internet browser market is attempting to put privacy issues centre stage by stressing it will not retain details of the websites it has visited.
The Browzar software has been specifically designed to protect users' privacy, the company said, implying that the other main browser do not.
Most browsers like Microsoft's Internet Explorer automatically save users' searches in Internet caches and histories. Users have the option of deleting the history folder and emptying the Internet cache, but most users either don't know how to or tend not to, leaving a trail of where they've been online behind them in the browser.
Browzar is being officially launched today at Browzar.com. It is free and users don't have to register. It automatically deletes Internet caches, histories, cookies and auto-complete forms, and is the brainchild of Ajaz Ahmed, the man behind Freeserve, the first UK Internet service provider (ISP) to offer free Internet access to customers in the late 1990s. He sold Freeserve - which quickly became the UK's largest ISP - to France Telecom in 2001 for £1.6 billion.
"Privacy is becoming a bigger issue," Ahmed said, pointing to the recent leak of more than 20 million user search queries by AOL. "The AOL story highlights the issue that some of the things people are searching for are very, very personal."
The Browzar site contains a page of stories from users who have either discovered things they rather not have known about their friends and loved ones through their Web browser's history or auto-complete feature or who have had information revealed they would have preferred kept private. For example, Ahmed cited a statistic that 35 percent of people using matchmaking websites are already married.
While Freeserve was focused on the needs of the UK market, Ahmed hopes Browzar will have global appeal, particularly anywhere users are going online on shared computers, for instance, at Internet cafes.
Browzar is small, 264Kb, and downloads within a few seconds. The browser is currently available for Windows and Ahmed plans versions for Mac OS and Linux. It is still in beta testing and should enter general availability some time next month.