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Firefox to Start Blocking Bad Trackers by Default

Nick Nguyen, writing for Mozilla’s company blog:

Tracking slows down the web. In a study by Ghostery, 55.4% of the total time required to load an average website was spent loading third party trackers. For users on slower networks the effect can be even worse.

Long page load times are detrimental to every user’s experience on the web. For that reason, we’ve added a new feature in Firefox Nightly that blocks trackers that slow down page loads. We will be testing this feature using a shield study in September. If we find that our approach performs well, we will start blocking slow-loading trackers by default in Firefox 63. […]

In the physical world, users wouldn’t expect hundreds of vendors to follow them from store to store, spying on the products they look at or purchase. Users have the same expectations of privacy on the web, and yet in reality, they are tracked wherever they go. Most web browsers fail to help users get the level of privacy they expect and deserve.

In order to help give users the private web browsing experience they expect and deserve, Firefox will strip cookies and block storage access from third-party tracking content. We’ve already made this available for our Firefox Nightly users to try out, and will be running a shield study to test the experience with some of our beta users in September. We aim to bring this protection to all users in Firefox 65, and will continue to refine our approach to provide the strongest possible protection while preserving a smooth user experience.

Outstanding news. Back in the early 2000s, every web browser other than IE turned toward web standards. It painted IE as the bad player, and drove IE users to switch to Firefox and other standard-based browsers. I think the same thing is happening now with ad tracking, with Safari and Firefox leading the way. But this time it’s Chrome that is being painted as the bad guy. I hope Microsoft joins Apple and Mozilla in this trend.

I’d love to see Google join too, but I’m not holding my breath — they’re working in the opposite direction, bringing web-style tracking to physical retail.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018