Firefox Deploys A Slew Of New Privacy Features, Taking Aim At Facebook And Invasive Online Trackers

There are plenty of browsers to choose from, but two of the most popular, when it comes to privacy at least, are headed down radically divergent paths.

Whereas Google appears keen on crippling Chrome users’ efforts to block tracker-driven ads, Mozilla on Tuesday moved to block such trackers by default, with the aim of preventing companies like Google from developing profiles of users that feed behaviorally-targeted ads.

“We believe that in order to truly protect people, we need to establish a new standard that puts people’s privacy first,” said David Camp, senior vice president of Firefox.

That new standard, as Camp put it, includes turning on Firefox’s new “enhanced” tracking protection on by default for new users. According to the company, this will block all third-party tracking cookies identified by the ad-block platform Disconnect. These include trackers built for advertising, analytics, cryptomining, fingerprinting, session replay, and social interaction. (The list itself is open source.)

Disconnect’s list is highly curated, as the company is fairly responsive to user feedback. “Most of our list of unblocked trackers is based on user feedback and complaints that we have received about experience with the products,” says the company’s website.

Whether you’re new to Firefox or not, the browser is going to automatically turn on these enhanced tracking protections in the coming months. For users who don’t wish to wait, the option is accessible under “Content Blocking” in the browser menu.

Firefox also announced upgrades to its Facebook Container, an extension that works by isolating Facebook from the rest of a users’ web activity. Now, the extension will also block Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons on external websites, making it more difficult, Mozilla says, for Facebook to build shadow profiles of its users.

Next, the company is rolling out a password manager called Lockwise, a desktop extension designed to allows users to access stored passwords across all of their devices. “With the new desktop extension, Firefox Lockwise will provide an additional touchpoint to store, edit and access your passwords,” says Mozilla. “The extension provides an enhanced experience for your saved logins, which will allow you to more easily manage and interact with your stored passwords in Firefox.”

Lockwise includes two capabilities for password control: management and access. Per Mozilla’s press release:

Manage your saved list of passwords - The new dashboard interface makes it simple to update and manage your saved list. If you’re no longer frequenting a site, you can easily delete your saved password. And for the sites you access frequently, you can quickly reference and edit what is being stored, thus giving you an easy way to take control of your online privacy.

Access your passwords anywhere - Whether you’re shopping for shoes on your desktop or purchasing them on-the-go from your favourite site, Firefox Lockwise has you covered. Both the mobile app and desktop extension can help you quickly retrieve your password to access your site account, no matter which device you’re on to take advantage of member discounts or free shipping.

Lastly, Mozilla is upgrading Firefox Monitor, the company’s effort to help users identify when their accounts have been involved in a data breach, which it accomplishes through its partnership with security researcher Troy Hunt’s “Have I Been Pwned” database.

“Today we’re launching a central dashboard to help you track and manage multiple email addresses, whether it’s your personal email accounts or ones for professional use,” said Mozilla, which says its biggest request from users for this service has been the ability to easily manage multiple accounts.

When accessing Monitor’s dashboard, users will not receive a summary for all of their registered email accounts, making it easier to see which accounts are being monitored, how many breaches may have exposed their information, and “specifically, if any passwords have been leaked across those breaches.”

“Being part of a data breach is not fun,” the company said, “but keeping track of and knowing where your private information may have been made public is one of the first steps in taking control of your online privacy.”

You can read more about the new updates to Firefox here.

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