Mozilla's Firefox 59 can stop websites from spying on you

The latest release of Mozilla Firefox includes several privacy improvements, including blocking untrusted sites from using the camera, microphone, and location data.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Firefox 59, the latest version of Mozilla's web browser, is out today with several privacy improvements, including blocking website popups that prompt for notifications, blocking microphone and camera access, and blocking location data.
  • Other improvements include decreased load times, improved graphic rendering for Macs, and a long list of security fixes.

Firefox 59 has been released to the general public, and with it come numerous privacy improvements.

As reported previously by TechRepublic, Mozilla has a variety of privacy improvements planned for upcoming versions of Firefox, and those that come with Firefox 59 are only a small sampling of future changes.

Mozilla has also tweaked Firefox 59 to speed up page load times, improve graphics rendering for Mac users, and fix security flaws.

Firefox 59 privacy improvements

Most everyone who uses the internet has been subjected to popups asking for permission for a website to send notifications, access a device's camera or microphone, or know your location, all of which can be serious privacy risks. Firefox 59 resolves those issues by adding an option to block them in the Settings menu.

You can find the option to block those intrusive messages by opening the Settings menu (the button that looks like three horizontal lines), selecting Preferences, and then opening the Privacy And Security panel.

Blocking websites from accessing your location, camera, or microphone won't cause issues for trusted websites—those are exempt and can continue to be used normally.

SEE: IT leader's guide to reducing insider security threats (Tech Pro Research)

A second major privacy improvement is a change to Private Browsing Mode. Firefox 59 will now remove path information from referrers, which prevents cross-site tracking. Keep in mind that this doesn't apply to browsing outside of Private Browsing Mode. If you want to block cross-site tracking in a regular session you'll need to go to the Privacy And Security panel in the Preferences menu and toggle it on.

Other Firefox 59 improvements

Privacy changes may be the biggest Firefox news, but there are other changes and features new to version 59 as well.

Firefox performance has been enhanced by changing the way pages load. It will now load pages from network cache and local cache on a user's hard drive, which Mozilla calls a "race cache with network."

Mac users are getting an improvement that came to Windows Firefox users in version 58: Off-Main-Thread Painting, which speeds up the way graphics are loaded and smooths performance.

Those who use Firefox for online collaboration and conferences may notice a boost to performance as well: Version 59 comes with improved real-time communication capabilities that Mozilla said will give fine-grain control over calls and add support for large-scale conferences.

Lastly, a long list of vulnerabilities have also been fixed, which you can learn more about here.

Firefox 59 is available for download now, and those who already have it can update to Firefox 59 by clicking on the Menu button, then clicking About. Firefox will begin checking for and downloading applicable updates immediately.

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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