A beta of version 12 of the Opera web browser released with privacy and security-focused improvements.

Code-named “Wahoo”, the Opera 12.00 beta now runs plugins out-of-process and includes optimizations for better SSL handling. Running plugins in their own process not only improves the smoothness and stability of the browser but can limit the damage some plugin exploits can do.

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Privacy becomes a bit stronger with support for the “Do Not Track” (DNT) header, which tells web sites the browser user wishes to opt-out of online behavioral tracking.

Users can enable the Do Not Track setting under the advanced tab of Opera’s Preferences dialog the DNT header should help users retain their privacy when faced with online advertising networks that use cookies and other web technologies to recognize them and serve them tailored advertising.

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Users can enable the header, currently disabled by default, in the preferences dialog by selecting Preferences/Advanced/Security/”Ask websites not to track me.”

“Do Not Track” requires web sites and services to acknowledge the header, but a number of advertising companies have said they will adopt it and Yahoo said it plans to roll out support across its sites. The White House also proposed wider use of “Do Not Track” and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has called for its use. To make it easier for users to see the privacy and security settings on sites they visit, security badges that appear in the Opera address bar underwent a redesign and are color coded.

The current stable release is Opera 11.62, a security update from late March.

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