Firefox browser will offer to block web tracking
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, was published in 2014.
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Mozilla, the non-profit group that created the Firefox web browser, has said it plans to allow its 450 million users to block the internet tracking that allows third parties to monitor their movements online. When the plans were first mooted in February, one advertising executive reportedly described them as “a nuclear first strike” against the advertising industry. Tracking allows firms to follow a user's tastes and target them with appropriate online ads.
However, the blocking technology would arrive just as users in the US and worldwide are becoming increasingly concerned about the level of access companies are allowed to their data and browsing habits - especially following the recent revelations that several of those companies have passed such data on to the National Security Agency for intelligence-gathering purposes.
The new technology would restrict so-called “cookies”: small files attached to the browsers of individual users by data collection outfits, allowing them to keep track of that user's web behaviour long after the end of their latest online session. In future, such tracking would only occur if the user gives permission to specific websites that he or she visits regularly, such as social networks, news and shopping sites. They would have an option to block cookies from sites visited infrequently or unintentionally, and to limit the level of tracking by sites such as Facebook once they sign off and navigate elsewhere.
The free, open source Firefox browser is used by approximately 20 per cent of desktop computers globally, making it the world's third most popular browser after Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The new blocking tools owe much to Apple's Safari browser, which already blocks cookies from sites that users do not visit on purpose. Brendan Eich, chief technology officer for Mozilla, told the Washington Post, “We're trying to change the dynamic so that trackers behave better.”
Most users will not have access to the tools, which are still being developed, for another few months. Meanwhile, Mozilla has partnered with Stanford University's Centre for Internet and Society and the makers of the Opera browser, to draw up a “Cookie Clearinghouse”: a definitive list of those websites to be to be allowed to place cookies in users' browsers, and those to be automatically blocked.
Life & Style blogs
iPhone 6S price: new handset to cost the same, Apple unlikely to increase phones' storage
A daily walk 'can add seven years to your life'
Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
Every hospital patient will be given a barcode as part of plan to create a 'paper free' NHS
No, a porn star wasn't tricked into performing a sex act on her brother
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- 1 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 4 A Chinese journalist has appeared on state television 'confessing' to causing the stock market chaos
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...