How to enable anti-tracking features in Firefox 63

As part of Mozilla's emphasis on user privacy, features intended to limit user tracking have come to Firefox, but are not yet enabled by default.

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With the release of Firefox 63, Mozilla has included enhanced privacy protections as part of the non-profit organization's renewed approach to limiting the ability of advertisers to track individual user behavior across websites.

In August, Mozilla announced their intent to change the default behavior in Firefox to limit third-party tracking, citing data breaches such as the Facebook data privacy scandal. Mozilla's objection to this behavior is on the basis that this "data that can be used to subtly shape the content you consume or even influence your opinions."

The new version of Firefox now gives users the option to block cookies and storage access from third-party trackers, which is intended to block common forms of user fingerprinting and tracking across websites.

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How to enable and disable

From the Options or Preferences menu, click on Privacy & Security. Under the Content Blocking heading, you can enable this new feature by clicking the checkbox to the left of Third-Party Cookies.

The recommended behavior is to block only cookies identified by Mozilla as belonging to tracking services. Users are given the option to block all third-party cookies, with the caveat that doing so may break the functionality of some websites.

In the event that blocking these cookies causes unexpected behavior, blocking can be disabled on a per-site basis from a menu accessible by clicking the shield icon in the address bar, and clicking Disable Blocking for This Site.

Future plans

While this is an optional feature in Firefox 63 which must be manually enabled by users post-upgrade, Mozilla intends to further test and refine this feature for adoption as a default behavior in "early 2019." With Firefox's six-week release cadence, the first release slated for 2019 is Firefox 65 on January 29, though it could just as easily slip to Firefox 66 on March 19.

For the privacy-minded, Mozilla also announced this week a partnership with ProtonVPN to offer subscriptions to their VPN service for $10/month. The option will roll out first to "a small, random group of US-based Firefox users." As ISPs are using deep packet inspection to monitor user activities, professionals working with sensitive data are increasingly adopting VPNs to protect their information.

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By James Sanders

James Sanders is a technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on Asia.