Mozilla is taking a stand against web advertising practices with an announcement today that its Firefox browser will soon block web trackers by default. Users can expect a series of updates over the next few months while this feature comes into reality. This proactive approach to protect consumer privacy, aims to give them more choice over what information they share with third party sites.
Mozilla has been always in the forefront of giving users the assurity of data privacy. They started off by blocking pop-up ads in the very first public Firefox release in 2004. The wholesale blocking of ads and trackers in private browsing mode starting in 2015 is another testament to the fact.
Mozilla has made it clear that even though some sites will continue to want user data in exchange for content, they will have to ask users for it. This gives advertising platforms a reason to care about their users’ experience and is a positive change for people who up until now had no idea of the value exchange they were asked to make.
Mozilla’s three key initiatives to put this approach into practice:
#1 Improving page load performance
A new feature will be introduced in Firefox Nightly that will blocks trackers slowing down page loads. Loading third party trackers makes it slow for a website to load as a whole. For users on slower networks, the effect is worse. This messes with the user’s experience on the web. Firefox will study the effects of blocking trackers and test the new feature using a shield study in September. If the approach succeeds in improving page performance well, slow-loading trackers will be blocked by default in Firefox 63.
#2 Removing cross-site tracking
Users expect a certain level of privacy on the web. However, many web browsers fail to help users obtain the level of privacy that they should be entitled to. Taking this into account, Firefox will strip cookies and block storage access from third-party tracking content. This is already available for Firefox Nightly users to try out. A shield study will be carried out with some beta users in September to check this feature. All Firefox 65 users can expect this update coming their way soon. After all, no one appreciates the thought of being constantly tracked by third-party sites to obtain information in secret.
#3 Mitigating harmful practices
The third approach Mozilla is taking is to block harder-to-detect practices like fingerprinting-a technique that allows them to invisibly identify users by their device properties. This will also put a stop on crypto mining scripts that silently mine cryptocurrencies on the user’s device.
The Twitter community has received this news well and many Firefox users have expressed their appreciation over this initiative.
The November release of Firefox 57, added an option to let people block all trackers. Worldwide, 1.3 percent of people enable Firefox tracking protection today which means out of 250 million monthly active users, it represents the choice of about 3 million people. Now as a bonus, users can block add trackers as well!
This goes to show the level of trust that users have in Firefox and we are sure that like always firefox will not disappoint.
You can read the detailed news of the upcoming update on Mozilla’s official blog.