Firefox backs "Do Not Track" with online stealth

As concern about online privacy grows, Mozilla is promising to let people cloak Internet activity in free Firefox Web browsing software being released early next year.

"Technology that supports something like a 'Do Not Track' button is needed and we will deliver in the first part of next year," Mozilla chief executive Gary Kovacs said while providing a glimpse at Firefox 4 at the Mozilla's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

"The user needs to be in control," he added.

There is a disturbing imbalance between what websites need to know about visitors to personalize advertisements or services and the amount of data collected, according to Kovacs.

"It is not that ads are bad," he said. "It is what they do with my tracked behavior.

"Where I go on the Internet is how I live my life; that is a lot of data to hold just for someone to serve me ads."

Microsoft this month unveiled increased privacy options for the upcoming version of its popular Web browser Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) including a feature "to help keep third-party websites from tracking your Web behavior."

Microsoft said "Tracking Protection" will be built into a test version of IE9 being released early next year.

IE9 users will have to be savvy enough to activate the feature and create lists of the third-party websites that they do not want to track their behavior.

Internet Explorer is the most widely used Web browser in the United States followed by Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari.

Google, which beefed up Chrome in recent weeks and is testing a notebook computer that operates on the Web browser software, cautioned that the mechanics and ramifications of stealth browsing need to be figured out.

"The idea of 'Do Not Track' is interesting, but there doesn't seem to be consensus on what 'tracking' really means, nor how new proposals could be implemented in a way that respects people's current privacy controls," said the company, also based in Mountain View.

"We look forward to ongoing dialogue about what 'Do Not Track' could look like, and in the meantime we are always looking into new tools to give people more transparency and control over their online privacy."

Kovacs agreed that the issue is complicated, with vested interests that include advertisers paying for services or content offered free online.

Supporters of targeted online ads argue that Internet users benefit from getting pitches tailored to their interests.

Firefox believes perils to privacy online are urgent enough to warrant building stealth into the coming version of its browser software, which has 400 million users around the world.

"I fundamentally believe that the balance is tipped too far," Kovacs said of tracking Web users.

"You can't tell me the delivery of a piece of content is going to be that much better if you know everything about my life; it's all about moderation."

Firefox debuted in 2004 as an innovative, communally crafted open-source browser released as an option to Internet Explorer.

Mozilla touts itself as the people's alternative; only now the battlefield includes Google as both a supporter and a rival.

"Google is a great partner; it is one of those things where we cooperate and compete," Kovacs said. "When we get together we are either hugging or hitting, it depends on the day."

Mozilla doesn't believe that Chrome is truly an open browser despite being free nor is it convinced that the colossus will sacrifice its business interests when it comes to money to be made off user data.

"We believe that (Chrome) is tied to their commercial purposes," Kovacs said.

"As the Web grows in importance in our lives, having all that data sit with one vendor that is not truly cross platform and not truly cross device is an alarming thing."

A US Federal Trade Commission staff report released this month proposes safeguards including "Do Not Track" features in browsers for people who want their online activities unrecorded by websites they visit.

The report said industry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation "have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection."

"The report confirms that many companies - both online and offline - don't do enough to protect consumer privacy," said Democratic Senator John Kerry.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

    Ashdown Group: Junior SQL DBA - London - £39,000

    £37000 - £39000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: SQL Database Administrato...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Expanding creative studio requi...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin