Although it’s been available as an option for years, Firefox will soon block ad trackers by default, in a move that will have large implications for protecting your privacy online.
Ad trackers work by using cookies, and allow sites to personalise the ads that they show you, theoretically making them more relevant to you and thus encourage you to actually buy something.
So if you’ve ever browsed for a new mattress only to find yourself being advertised mattresses by every site you visit on the web, then you’ve got ad trackers to thank.
Although it sounds pretty innocuous, ad trackers are one of those things that can build to a degree where it feels pretty invasive, especially as we spend more and more of our time online and sites build a more and more detailed picture of who we are.
However, on a practical level they can also slow down how quickly pages load.
Mozilla, the developer of Firefox, is planning on rolling out the tracker blocking incrementally. If you’re using a ‘Nightly’ build then you should be able to block trackers that severely slow down a page’s loading time. If this test proves successful, then these trackers will be blocked by default in Firefox 63.
Then, in Firefox 65, the browser will start blocking all third-party cookies by default — subsequent to Mozilla’s tests going well.
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Privacy comes to the fore
Mozilla isn’t the only browser developer to have focussed on the privacy-endangering aspects of ad-tracking recently.
Back in June, Apple announced that the next version of its Safari browser would explicitly ask for your consent when it detected a website trying to access your browser cookies or other data.
Meanwhile, if you’re a Chrome user then you can similarly blocker trackers by installing an extension such as Privacy Badger or Ghostery.
Mozilla’s move is a welcome one in a world where we’re slowly waking up to the amount of data we’re happily giving away online. The big question is whether it’s a big enough worry for people to take action.
Do you agree with the use of ad trackers? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.