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Firefox to make Private Browsing even more private

Barry Collins
17 Aug 2015
Firefox
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Private Browsing mode to prevent websites from tracking your behaviour

Mozilla is beefing up the protection offered by Firefox's Private Browsing mode, preventing websites and advertisers from tracking users' behaviour. Privacy modes have become a staple of the leading browsers, meaning visited sites don't appear in the computer's browsing history when that mode is engaged. However, the private modes in most browsers don't stop advertiser tracking nor prevent website analytics from monitoring users. 

That's all set to change in a forthcoming release of Firefox, with the company currently experimenting with enhanced protection for those who open a Private Window. "Our hypothesis is that when you open a Private Browsing window in Firefox you’re sending a signal that you want more control over your privacy than current private browsing experiences actually provide," reads a post on the Mozilla blog.

The pre-beta version of the browser is currently testing a new privacy mode that blocks "content, analytics, social and other services that might be collecting data without your knowledge". Mozilla concedes that some websites may refuse to work properly if these tracking tools are blocked, but users can choose to unblock selected websites if they're happy to make that compromise.

Mozilla has arguably protected users' privacy better than any other major browser maker. It was the first of the big players to offer comprehensive support for the Do Not Track facility, which prevents supporting ad networks from following users from website to website, collecting data on their browsing habits. Microsoft, Google and Apple subsequently followed suit.

It might be harder for the others to follow Firefox's lead on private browsing protection, however, especially Google. Firefox's new feature will prevent Google Analytics from collecting information about visitors, for example, which the search giant will surely be reluctant to encourage.

The new privacy features are currently only available in the Developer edition of the browser, which isn't recommended for general public usage.

 

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