A new Bleeping Computer report by Lawrence Abrams suggests that Mozilla plans to enable Hyperlink Ping Tracking by default in the Firefox browser.
Firefox is one of the few browsers that has the feature disabled by default, another is Brave. Most Chromium-based browsers, Google Chrome and Opera, as well as Microsoft Edge and Safari have the feature turned on by default.
The browsers that have the feature enabled already won't allow users to disable the feature anymore in coming versions. Chrome users, for example, can disable Hyperlink auditing in the browser currently on chrome://flags if they run the Stable version. Chrome users who run Beta or other development versions won't find the feature listed anymore as Google removed it from the list of available flags.
Links, or hyperlinks, are a fundamental HTML feature that loads another resource when a user activates it.
Ping is a new attribute that can be added to links to send information to another resource. Here is an example: <a href="https://www.ghacks.net/ ping="https://www.example.com/">This</a>
When a user clicks on the Ghacks Link, Example.com is notified that the click happened. It is possible to notify one or multiple resources about the link click.
What is bad about it?
Ping is used to track link clicks. The nature of how that is done is not transparent to users who click on links, as the ping attribute is not shown and links with pings are not highlighted when a user hovers over the link in the browser.
While it is possible to check the source, it is not comfortable and unlikely that many users will do so.
Apart from privacy, at least one case has been recorded where pings were used for denial of service attacks.
Mozilla told Bleeping Computer that the Ping has not been enabled by default in Firefox already is because the feature is still being implemented.
Asked about the privacy implications, Mozilla told Bleeping Computer that it agreed with Apple's stance on the issue. Apple stated that turning off Ping would not "solve the privacy implications of link click analytics" and that disabling it would result in companies using techniques that would "hurt the user experience".
Sites would often check for supported tracking features and would simply switch to another if Ping was not available.
Firefox supports a preference currently that determines whether pings are enabled or not. The preference is set to False currently which means that it is not used.
Firefox users can check browser.
Chrome users may install Ping Blocker to block pings in the browser. The popular content blocker uBlock Origin blocks pings by default as well, and it is available for Firefox, Chrome, and other browsers.
Brave is one of the few browsers that has the Ping attribute disabled.Advertisement
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.