You can't think of the modern internet without thinking of cookies. No, not the delicious kind that you eat -- the digital kind. The kind that attaches itself to your browser, saves information about your computer and tracks what you do online. These kinds of cookies supposedly "improve" your online experience, but they can quickly lead to privacy issues if you visit the wrong website.
Nobody wants to sacrifice privacy for a more convenient online experience, but one software developer is taking a firm stand against activity tracking cookies. Their browser is one of the most popular on the internet, and now, it's getting a new set of privacy-enhancing features -- including the ability to block cookies right from the get-go.
If you're looking for a new way to surf the web without the places you visit knowing your business, you won't want to miss this browser's new feature. In an age where privacy is little more than an afterthought to most of the tech world, it's refreshing to see a company that cares so much about its users' right to remain anonymous online.
Firefox eats third-party cookies -- so you don't have to
Mozilla, the creators of the popular Firefox browser, have been longtime advocates for privacy online. All of the most recent editions of Firefox have been optimized to keep users' data in their own hands -- with private browsing options and script blocking as just a few examples of its capabilities.
Recently, the company introduced a feature that blocked third-party cookies from attaching themselves to your browser. For reference, "third-party" refers to cookies placed not by the website's owners but by advertisers that the website hosts.
Cookies from these ads can follow your activity online -- reporting back to their original creators with information they can profile you with. This data is then used to recommend targeted advertisements based on your browsing, and they can appear on any ads in the same network as the one that embedded the cookie.
Taking privacy mainstream
This cookie-blocking feature was previously only available inside Firefox's private browsing mode. But now, the company is finally deciding to take the service mainstream by making it default across the entire program.
For nearly a year, Mozilla's been testing the feature in experimental builds, and it's now satisfied enough with the product to include it in all future Firefox downloads.
Initially, the cookie-blocking function will only be available to new Firefox users, but current users can expect the function to start showing up in future updates. If you want to activate it now, the service is available in the privacy settings.
Under the Custom menu, the feature can be accessed by clicking Cookies and activating the toggle on the next page.
That's not the only privacy boost that Mozilla has up its sleeve, mind you. It's also fighting the nasty advertising tactic of "fingerprinting," which is when an ad scans and captures your IP address, saving it for other ads in its network to track you with. In Firefox, you can manually disable this technique by exploring the privacy settings and activating anti-fingerprinting protection.
The vast majority of people support a more private internet. If companies like Mozilla are putting the effort in to reward this demand, it's worth checking out its products if only to reinforce how important this mindset is to them. If developers know what their customers like and prefer the privacy-centric design, we'll hopefully see more companies follow suit in the near future.
That's an internet worth fighting for.
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