Mozilla Strengthens Firefox Privacy

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Mozilla has begun testing features aimed at blocking website elements that track user activity

Mozilla, developer of the Firefox browser, is adding stronger privacy features to the software in developer test versions.

Firefox currently includes a private browsing mode, but it is aimed at suppressing traces of a user’s browsing activity on a shared computer. The new features, by contrast, are intended to prevent websites from tracing user information, Mozilla said.


“The experimental Private Browsing enhancements ready for testing today actively block website elements that could be used to record user behavior across sites,” Mozilla said in a blog post. “This includes elements like content, analytics, social and other services that might be collecting data without your knowledge.”

Similar features are offered by add-ons such as Ghostery or the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger, but they have not previously been included in the Firefox browser itself.

The feature is included in Firefox Developer Edition for Window, Mac and Linux and Firefox’s Aurora channel on Android, all of which offer pre-beta test features Mozilla said it is currently seeking user feedback to improve the privacy feature.

Browser control

Mozilla acknowledged that blocking elements that track user behaviour may cause some sites to appear broken, but the feature will allow users to unblock the elements in question if needed.

The pre-beta versions of Firefox include a control centre that puts site security and privacy controls in a single place, Mozilla said.

Last year, for Firefox’s 10th anniversary, Mozilla added privacy features to the browser and launched an initiative called Polaris to join its own privacy work to that of partners such as the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology.

“Issues of digital rights, privacy, net neutrality and online safety and security are real and impact our lives daily,” said Mozilla chief executive Chris Beard at the time.

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