Within the world of browsers, Tracking generally refers to the collection of a person's browsing data across multiple sites. This is done by way of cookies, web beacons, flash cookies, pixel tags, and more. Websites track users to enable certain functionalities, know what sites you came from, give consent, give the site insight into traffic, or even build a profile of who a user is.
Some users are okay with that. Some businesses are okay with their employees' web usage being tracked. Some are not. If you have any concern for your privacy, you will not be okay with this—especially if you're using your device on company time or for company business.
On top of keeping your browsing more private, Tracking Protection will also make your browsing faster. How? Because it will prevent tracking scripts which can slow down the loading of a site from running.
Fortunately, for both users and businesses, the developers of Firefox have included a pretty powerful system for tracking protection, in both the desktop and mobile iterations of their browser. With the feature Tracking Protection enabled, your browser will not allow sites to load code that will track you from site to site.
I highly suggest users enable this on both the desktop and mobile devices. I'm going to show you how to enable this feature on both the mobile and the desktop platforms. I'll be demonstrating on the Elementary OS and Android platforms, but the process is the same, regardless of operating system.
First we'll enable Tracking protection on the desktop. The process is actually quite similar for both desktop and mobile (with slight variations). On the desktop, do the following:
- Open Firefox.
- Click on the Menu button in the upper right corner (three horizontal lines).
- Click Preferences
- In the resulting window, click Privacy and Security.
- Scroll down to the Tracking Protection section (Figure A).
- Tap Always.
Obviously, you have three options:
- Only in private windows
If you plan on doing the majority of your browsing in a Private Window, go ahead and select Only in private windows, otherwise select Always.
The process is similar for the mobile edition. Here are the steps:
- Open Firefox.
- Tap the Menu button (three vertical dots in the upper right corner).
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Privacy.
- Tap Tracking Protection (Figure B).
- Tap Enabled.
With Tracking Protection enabled, you'll notice some pages might have areas missing. This is because those blocks are the bits of the site that have tracking code. Firefox has now blocked them. If you find certain sites don't function properly, you'll have to whitelist the site in question.
Eventually you'll come across a site that requires tracking to function. When that happens, Firefox has a built-in whitelist feature that's very easy to work with. In fact, this whitelist feature works in similar fashion for both the desktop and mobile versions. Here's what you do:
- Open Firefox.
- Navigate to the site that requires you disable Tracking Protection.
- Tap the "i" button at the left side of the address bar.
- For the desktop version, tap Disable protection for this site (Figure C).
- For the mobile version, tap Disable protection.
The removing of a whitelisted site is done similarly to that of adding. Navigate to the site, click the "i" button, and then click Enable Protection. This process is the same on both the desktop and mobile versions.
Easy privacy protection
And that's all there is to gaining much-needed Tracking Protection on Firefox Quantum. I highly recommend you give this feature a try. Not only will you enjoy easy privacy, your browser page rendering will gain a slight boost.
- Firefox 59 will prevent data leaks with improved private browsing sessions (TechRepublic)
- Mozilla: Firefox 58 will be faster than Quantum, thanks to this one feature (TechRepublic)
- How to manage Firefox Quantum site permissions (TechRepublic)
- How to easily refresh your Firefox Quantum browser (TechRepublic)
- Firefox Quantum: A cheat sheet for professionals (TechRepublic)
- How to force Firefox to forget your browser history (TechRepublic Video)
- Think Firefox Quantum is fast? Try Firefox 58, out this week, says Mozilla (ZDNet)
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.