Firefox has announced a new experimental version of its privacy mode that automatically blocks online tracking features built into many websites.
Currently available in the pre-beta, Developer Edition of Firefox, the new feature extends the traditional features of private browsing modes to include less obvious forms of tracking.
As Firefox explains in a blog post on its website:
"All major browsers offer some form of experience that is labelled ‘private’, but this is typically intended to solve the 'local' privacy case – namely preventing others on a shared computer from seeing traces of your online activity.
"Our hypothesis is that when you open a Private Browsing window in Firefox, you’re sending a signal that you want more control over your privacy than current private-browsing experiences actually provide. The experimental Private Browsing enhancements ready for testing today actively block website elements that could be used to record user behaviour across sites."
This means that in addition to forgetting your browsing history, cookies and other local data, the new mode will actively block "hidden" tracking features embedded in web pages – for instance, analytics and social media.
Firefox notes that some of these features might result in broken or non-functioning web pages, but adds that you can unblock them if you need to.
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Firefox is also testing a new verification system for add-ons in the hope of making them safer. It will mean that only verified add-ons will be allowed by default, preventing malicious toolbars and the like from infecting your PC.
This sounds like an excellent idea – enough so that you wonder why this wasn't the case already.