Mozilla is taking its privacy proposal directly to users in the latest beta release of Firefox 4.
In it, the company has brought the “Do Not Track” HTTP header it recently proposed to bear for users who want to opt out of behavioral tracking by online advertisers.
“The Web is evolving quickly, and so are the ways that your data is collected, shared and stored,” Mozilla’s company blog says. “With the integration of the -Do Not Track’ option into the Firefox 4 beta, you can now check a -Do Not Track’ box in the -Advanced’ screen of Firefox’s Options. When this option is selected, a header will be sent signaling to Websites that you wish to opt out of online behavioral tracking. You will not notice any difference in your browsing experience until sites and advertisers start responding to the header.”
The company’s move follows a December report by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that endorsed the idea of a “Do Not Track” mechanism for Web users. Other browser vendors have jumped into the fray as well. Google released an extension called “Keep My Opt-Outs,” which allows users to permanently opt out of being tracked online by advertisers’ cookies, provided the companies offer opt-outs through industry self-regulation programs.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has added a feature to the Internet Explorer 9 beta called the “Track Protection List.” The TPL contains Web addresses the browser will only visit if the consumer goes to them directly by clicking on a link or typing in the address.
All the approaches have their pros and cons, but privacy advocates have largely lauded efforts to address the situation. Also in the area of privacy, Mozilla said it has fixed flaws in the CSS (cascading style sheets) Web standard that allowed a user’s browser history to be exposed.
The Firefox 4 beta is currently available on Mac, Windows and Linux. A mobile version is also available on Maemo and Android.