Mozilla attempts ethical ad blocker with Focus by Firefox, but it only works with Safari for now
Mozilla has released a free ad blocker for iOS users, allowing them to block certain types of content and trackers, but the application will only work in Safari and not on Firefox.
The non-profit organisation says Focus by Firefox will give web users greater control about how their information is shared and what they see, improving performance on their device and potentially reducing data consumption.
Mozilla says there are many privacy, security and productivity reasons for using ad blockers but believes many of the current services available are not transparent enough to both users and publishers, many of whom rely on advertising income to survive.
Focus by Firefox
It says other ad blockers are not clear about what type of content is blocked, don’t provide guidelines for publishers and advertisers to improve and some offer companies the ablity to remove themselves from blacklists in exchange for a fee.
“We want to build an Internet that respects users, puts them in control, and creates and maintains trust,” said Mozilla. “Too many users have lost trust and lack meaningful controls over their digital lives. This loss of trust has impacted the ecosystem – sometimes negatively. Content blockers offer a way to rebuild that trust by empowering users.
“At the same time, it is important that these tools are used to create a healthy, open ecosystem that supports commercial activity, instead of being used to lock down the Web or to discriminate against certain industries or content.”
Mozilla says it will use the open source Disconnect blacklist to determine what type of content is blocked, claiming users will be able to see any changes made the to the databse.
“We made Focus by Firefox because we believe content blockers need to be transparent with publishers and other content providers about how lists are created and maintained, rather than placing certain content in a permanent penalty box,” it added.
“We want this product to encourage a discussion about users and content providers, instead of monetizing users’ mistrust and pulling value out of the Web ecosystem. Focus by Firefox is free to users and we don’t monetize it in other ways.”
Apple ad blocking
Apple introduced the ability to block content in Safari with the advent of iOS 9, but has not extended this capability to third party applications – meaning Focus by Firefox doesn’t work with Mozilla’s own Firefox of iOS.
One ad blocker, Been Choice, was able to block ads in a number of iOS apps, but it was removed from the App Store after it emerged the service achieved the desired effect by rerouting traffic through a VPN.
Nearly one in five British adults use ad blocking software, but many claim they do so because of data consumption, privacy fears and because they find adverts intrusive. However nearly two thirds said they prefer free, ad-supported content to a subscription-based model.
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