Did you know that even when browsing in Incognito Mode (regardless of browser), some websites can still collect data from you? Cookies, metadata... if a website really wants your information, they'll go to all means to get it. Thankfully, browsers like Firefox are doing everything they can to ensure users can experience as much privacy as possible while browsing.
In the latest release of Firefox, there's a new feature called Tracking Protection. According to Mozilla:
"Tracking Protection allows you to take control of your privacy online. While Firefox has a Do Not Track feature that tells websites not to monitor your behavior, companies are not required to honor it. Firefox's Tracking Protection feature puts the control back in your hands by actively blocking domains and sites that are known to track users."
In other words—those companies that refuse to honor the Do Not Track features of incognito browsers will finally see their efforts thwarted with Tracking Protection.
Tracking Protection works with a blocklist. The initial blocklist is based on Disconnect and should grow with usage.
Before I show you how to enable the Tracking Privacy feature, let me first walk you through the process of enabling Do Not Track. This feature is more user-friendly and will prevent sites that honor the setting from tracking you. The steps to enable Do Not Track are as follows:
- Open Firefox
- Click the menu button (three horizontal lines in the upper right corner)
- Click Preferences
- Click the Privacy button
- Click to enable Tell site that I do not want to be tracked (Figure A)
- Click Close
Enabling Do Not Track on Firefox.
You have now opted out of third-party tracking whenever you browse with Firefox.
But is it enough? Not when sites refuse to abide. Fortunately, Firefox still has you covered. In the newest releases of Firefox (mine stands at 37.0.1), you won't find Tracking Protection in the Preferences because the feature is still very new. You can, however, enable it. Here's how:
- Open Firefox
- In the address bar, type about:config
- Promise you won't muck everything up by clicking I'll be careful, I promise!
- Search for privacy.trackingprotection.enabled (Figure B)
- Under Value (in the privacy.trackingprotection.enabled row), double-click false to set it true
- Restart Firefox
Setting Tracking Protection to enabled.
That's it. With this one-two punch, your Firefox browser should now be able to prevent sites from tracking you, whether they honor Do Not Track or not.
Privacy has become one of the single most important issues of modern internet usage. Every time a browser or app creates a new way to prevent sites from tracking their data, sites overturn that method with yet more ways to play "watcher." It's a good thing the "watchers" are being watched and browsers like Firefox are doing everything they can to bring privacy back to web browsing.
Is privacy a primary concern for you? Is the addition of Privacy Tracking enough to send you back to the open-source Firefox browser? How do you prevent browsers from tracking your data? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.