Work on Firefox's Tracking Protection feature continues as Mozilla plans to give users more control over the feature by adding tracking groups to the system that users can allow or disallow individually.
Tracking Protection is a new privacy feature of Firefox that Mozilla launched in Firefox 42 stable. The mode blocks connections to trackers in the browser's private browsing mode to limit exposure while using the mode.
Private browsing itself takes only care of local data, and the addition of Tracking Protection expands this by blocking remote trackers as well.
Tracking Protection updates will land in the next stable version of Firefox, and Mozilla is at work to improve the mode further in future versions.
The following mockup highlights the improvements (check out bug 1219365 to track the implementation)
Update: Mozilla's Chief Legal and Business Officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer let us know that the organization does not plan to "extend the scope of the feature currently".
Tracking Protection is enabled by default as an experiment in Private Browsing. We added it to give users more choice and control over third party tracking across the Internet. At Mozilla we work in the open and we are still experimenting with Tracking Protection in our Nightly Channel to get more feedback. There are no current plans to extend the scope of this feature.
First of all, it shows that Firefox users may soon have the option to enable Tracking Protection for regular browsing sessions as well instead of keeping the mode enabled for private windows only.
The second big change is the separation of trackers into groups. The mockup highlights four distinct groups:
- Block Ad Trackers: these are used for advertisement purposes, e.g. retargeting.
- Block Analytics Trackers: these block web analytic software such as Google Analytics.
- Block Social Trackers: these block social trackers, e.g. those by Facebook or Twitter.
- Block Other Content: it is unclear what these will block. Mozilla notes that enabling the option may break "some videos and web pages".
Ad, analytics and social tracker blocking is enabled by default while other content blocking needs to be enabled separately.
Each group can be enabled or disabled individually, and each triggers a separate blocklist that takes care of these kind of trackers.
In addition to all of that, Firefox users get the option to disable Tracking Protection for individual sites.
There are two core reasons for doing so: first, to make sure a site works properly when Tracking Protection renders part of it unusable, and second, to allow select advertisement on sites.
Tracking Protection is not a full ad-blocker, but a side-effect of blocking trackers is that it will block certain advertisements from being displayed on sites. If you value a site, you may want to enable ads on it to make sure it earns money from your visits.
Another mockup highlights Tracking Protection changes coming to the browser's frontend.
Options to turn off the feature for individual websites is provided right there, and as is an option that reveals detailed information about the trackers that are blocked. The latter are sorted into their respective groups automatically.
Work on Tracking Protection continues which is a good thing for Mozilla as its main competitor Chrome does not have such a feature and it is unlikely that Google will add such a feature to the browser in the future. (via Sören Hentzschel)