Tracking Protection is a privacy feature of the Firefox web browser designed to block certain unwanted elements on sites visited in the browser.
All Firefox users have options to control Tracking Protection in the web browser; Mozilla announced in June 2019 that Tracking Protection is enabled by default for new Firefox installations, and that it plans to make it the default for existing Firefox installations as well provided that the user has not customized Tracking Protection.
The announcement raised several questions: users wanted to know more about Tracking Protection, whether the system was good enough to make installed extensions superfluous, whether they could uninstall content blockers, and if there was any downside to enabling the feature.
Firefox users may customize Tracking Protection functionality in several ways. One of the easier options is to load about:preferences#privacy in the Firefox address bar and check the "content blocking" section on the page that opens.
Tracking Protection offers three presets: standard, strict, and custom.
Firefox displays a Shield icon next to the site address if Tracking Protection is blocking something on the active site. A click on the icon provides an overview of what is being blocked on the page.
The Content Blocking section of the panel that opens provides the following information and controls:
A click on a content type that is blocked on the active site displays the list of content that is blocked on it.
Options to interact with the blocked content are not provided but you find a link to the content blocking options in the interface.
Firefox uses lists provided by Disconnect. Level 1 is the default that is used by the browser's Tracking Protection feature.
The only option to switch to the level 2 list is to set Tracking Protection to the custom level. Select "change block list" under custom options to do so.
Disconnect maintains a list of trackers that it does not block. If a company runs a tracker on its main site, blocking the tracker would prevent access to the site at all.
You find the current list of unblocked domains here. The list includes sites such as aol.com, gravatar.com, amazon.com, or akamai.com.
There is no option to configure Firefox's Tracking Protection to block these trackers as well. Since you find CDNs on the list as well, blocking them would break sites that rely on these.
Tracking Protection and ad-blocking share some features but are different in others. Mozilla's Tracking Protection approach tries to improve user privacy by blocking certain forms of tracking, namely tracking cookies and a list of known trackers.
Ad-blockers focus on advertisement elements on websites and block these, and by doing so, improve privacy as well as they may block cookies from being set by advertising domains.
Tracking Protection may block some ad elements on websites that you visit but others may still be displayed. A content blocker like uBlock Origin blocks all advertisement on a page by default. Some content blockers, especially Adblock Plus, allow certain ads by default.
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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.