Mozilla is taking a revolutionary step with its open source web browser, Firefox, by working to block all tracking cookies in an upcoming update.
Tracking cookies are assigned to you as an individual by third party advertisers and can follow you around the internet, building a profile of your online habits to target online ads more directly.
Following the publication of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented in May, a great many more websites are using pop-ups or banners on their pages to ensure that they meet the regulations and inform visitors of the collection of data.
This is about more than protecting users — it’s about giving them a voice
This data is most commonly collected by cookies embedded into the site, and by accepting the use of them you are agreeing to them tracking your movements across the web. The information compiled is used by advertising companies to show you adverts which are targeted to your likely needs and desires.
These usually harmless, though eerily accurate, practices are perfectly legal. However, some tracking cookies are designed specifically with the aim of collecting identifiable user information or degrading a user’s experience. They use the invisibility of cookies as a cloak to mask their practices.
Not only do cookies collect data, they also slow the loading speed of web pages. This is another issue that Mozilla are addressing, especially following a recent study conducted by Ghostery which revealed that 55.4% of the total time spent loading an average web page was used for loading third party trackers.
These changes are currently being developed and released on Firefox Nightly, a pre-release platform used for testing new features which is updated twice per day. You can learn more about Firefox Nightly’s developments on the Mozilla website.
Nearly 90% of page loads had at least one tracker on them and over 20% had 50 or more trackers
Mozilla aim to be able to return control to the users of their browser by ensuring that they are aware of what information can be collected and manage how the information is used. Tracking cookies will be blocked as a default setting, and so will be cross-site tracking Firefox is currently running on version 61, but these updates will start to be available to all in version 63, set to be released in full on October 23rd.
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