Monday, April 20, 2015

How to disable tracking in Firefox

In current iterations of Firefox there is an option called do not track which when enabled requests the sites you visit to respect your wishes not to be tracked, however ruthless advertisers are in no way coerced into abiding by this request. Luckily Mozilla is working on mandatory tracking protection but hasn’t yet been enabled by default for the masses.
In a blog post from November we can see some tests of the tracking protection being done, the results are pretty amazing, 86 site connections got reduced to 33. The tracking protection was able to block connections to a lot of the sites using an in-built blacklist.
Enabling the tracking protect in fairly easy, in the location bar (URL bar) type about:config and press enter. Before entering into the config page you will be warned that you could break things in the config menu, just press ‘I’ll be careful, I promise!’. At the top of the config page you should see a search box, here you need to type privacy.trackingprotection.enabled and toggle the value from false to true. To disable the feature later on just toggle the value back to false.
When Firefox ends up blocking third party content on a web page you should see a shield icon in the URL bar, if you click on the shield and then ‘options’ next to tracking you can disable the protection on the site you are on, you may need to do this if tracking protection is causing issues on a site, for instance, the UK’s Channel 4 catch-up service is very insistant that you watch the adverts before continuing to watch the content, meaning you have to disable a bunch of plugins on the page.
From my brief testing of the feature it appeared stable enough however Mozilla’s wider Polaris initiative which tracking protection is a part of is not yet complete, when it is there will be a GUI which will give you the option of enabling tracking protections. If you prefer to wait until tracking protection is officially enabled then in the meantime I advocate the use of a plugin called ‘Disconnect’, Mozilla are currently using Disconnect’s blocking list in their own implementation.

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