Mozilla Firefox’s super Private Browsing can stop websites from tracking you

Mozilla has rolled out an advanced experimental Private Browsing feature to its pre-beta Firefox testers, allowing them to browse the web almost completely untracked.

Mozilla Firefox’s super Private Browsing can stop websites from tracking you

Available to those running Firefox Developer Edition on Windows, Mac and Linux, and Firefox Aurora on Android, Mozilla’s new Private Browsing feature can block website elements used for tracking user behaviour. This means Google Analytics links will be cut off, social tracking won’t be able to follow you and other elements such as targeted ads and commonplace cookies can’t be used to see what you’re up to.

Private browsing features are nothing new but, as Mozilla points out, they’re typically “intended to solve the ‘local’ privacy case”. Its new private browsing experience has come about because Mozilla believes that “when you open a Private Browsing windows in Firefox you’re sending a signal that you want more control over your privacy than current private browsing experiences actually provide”.

A Mozilla spokesperson revealed that the experimental Private Browsing functionality using Disconnect, “a consumer technology company that builds private browsing products for mobile devices and desktop computers. Firefox is using Disconnect’s open-source anti-tracking blacklist to power our experiment in Private Browsing windows.”

Firefox’s super Private Browsing can stop websites from tracking you

If you thought this feature would give you free reign online, think again. Mozilla’s experimental Private Browsing feature isn’t a Tor-like service. Mozilla states: “your employer or internet service provider can still track the pages you visit”. Similar to the Content Blocking feature in Apple’s upcoming version of Safari, Firefox’s new Private Browsing mode is more akin to AdBlock than a tool for avoiding online detection.

The feature is unlikely to be popular with website owners, who could lose out in both advertising revenue and visitor analytics. However, Mozilla is aware of this and that’s partly why it’s first bringing in Private Browsing as an experiment, stating: “the goal is to balance user control and privacy with the commercial realities of the web, and the needs of publishers and advertisers who rely on tracking technologies to support their businesses”.

Obviously Mozilla is only implementing this optional feature to help users browse online in a manner they feel comfortable with. It’s only available to Firefox Developer and Aurora users at present, so there’s no worry of a mass Firefox exodus anytime soon; in fact, the new Private Browsing mode may not even make it out of pre-beta.

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