Mozilla on Tuesday announced that it is rolling out Total Cookie Protection by default for all Firefox users to restrict companies to track your browsing patterns from one site to another. The security feature, which is essentially meant to protect users from cross-site tracking, was until now available only in Private Browsing. Mozilla claimed that by making Total Cookie Protection by default, it has made Firefox the most private and secure major browser available across Windows and Mac.
Marketers often use cross-site tracking as a technique to understand user browsing behaviour and then serve them with targeted ads. It is possible through one of the easiest ways by accessing cookies — small pieces of data with identifiable information — from different sites.
Once the data is obtained through trackers, sophisticated profiles are built to track how you access the Web — whether it is about what goods you purchase online or what pages you like or share on a social network.
Mozilla wants to turn this kind of tracking down using its Total Cookie Protection. The feature confine cookies to the site where they were created by creating a separate “cookie jar” for each site you visit. It restricts trackers to see your behaviour only on individual sites and not by linking up your browsing patterns from multiple sites.
Total Cookie Protection was designed as an upgrade to Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) that Mozilla introduced back in 2018. The earlier solution allowed Firefox to block trackers based on a maintained list. However, attackers were able to thwart ETP by setting up a new tracking domain that was not a part of the list used by the feature.
“Total Cookie Protection is the culmination of years of work to fight the privacy catastrophe that stems from online trackers,” Mozilla said in a blog post.
The nonprofit added that the latest extension of Total Cookie Protection is a result of experimentation and feature testing that was first started with ETP Strict Mode last year that came with the new cross-site tracking confinement.
In June last year, Mozilla rolled out Total Cookie Protection by default for Private Browsing windows. It also extended the feature to Firefox Focus on Android earlier this year.
“Bringing Total Cookie Protection to all Firefox users is our next step towards creating a better Internet, one where your privacy is not optional,” Mozilla said.
Unlike Mozilla, Google has not yet integrated a solution to protect users on Chrome from cross-site tracking. It did propose to block tracking via cookies by January. The search giant, though, delayed that rollout until 2023.
In 2019, Microsoft introduced tracking prevention as an experimental feature on Edge. It later became an integral part of the Edge browser for all users.
The tracking prevention on Microsoft Edge helps users block third-party and known malicious trackers in three different levels. However, Mozilla alleged that Microsoft’s implementation of the feature implementation “is no more than privacy theatre as it doesn’t protect users from the biggest trackers on the Web.”