Mozilla changes its stance on website tracking, will now block data collection by default

Tracking blockers will be implemented across all websites automatically

Firefox icon

Mozilla has announced it will disallow websites from collecting data about visitors by default in a groundbreaking move by the browser creator.

This is part of a three-pronged privacy and performance improvement plan approach Mozilla touted in August

The company explained although it's previously introduced tools to prevent data being collected as people navigate around the web, few companies have adopted the voluntary "do not track" measure and those that accepted its use have now stopped. Mozilla explained its only choice now is to block any requests automatically.

"People are uncomfortable with the data collection that happens on the web," Steven Englehardt, privacy engineer at Mozilla. "The actions we take on the web are deeply personal, and yet we have few options to understand and control the data collection that happens on the web.

"In fact, research has repeatedly shown that the majority of people dislike the collection of personal data for targeted advertising. They report that they find the data collection invasive, creepy, and scary."

Do Not Track previously identified trackers and disabled them when a user visited a site. But this technology wasn't always accurate and couldn't always recognise trackers. 

Although the tracking feature will be switched on by default in web browsers, Mozilla will allow people to opt out manually if they wish, plus block slow-loading trackers and third-party cookies manually if they don't want any evidence of their presence to be recorded.

"Advanced tracking techniques reduce the effectiveness of traditional privacy controls," Englehardt added. "Many people take steps to protect themselves online, for example, by clearing their browser cookies. In response, some trackers have developed advanced tracking techniques that are able to identify you without the use of cookies."

Although blocking all trackers by default will knock out a lot of the tracking occurring on the web, Mozilla said there's still a long way to go until it has complete control over some of the more sophisticated trackers used online.

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