Firefox 4 Beta lets you opt out of “behavioral tracking”

In an effort to comply with increasing pressure from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
to uphold consumers’ privacy as they browse the web, Mozilla has incorporated a “Do Not Track” feature into their newly released Firefox 4 Beta browser.

The feature, which allows users to opt out of the behavioral tracking systems used by marketing services and advertising networks, is, in simple terms, much like a “Do Not Call” list for the internet.

Firefox 4 Beta lets you opt out of "behavioral tracking"

While many US government officials have been calling for the enactment of “Do Not Track” legislation, it is currently something that web browser developers can initiate on a voluntary basis.

“With the integration of the ‘Do Not Track’ option into Firefox 4 Beta, you can now check a ‘Do Not Track’ box in the ‘Advanced’ screen of Firefox’s Options. When this option is selected, a header will be sent signaling to websites that you wish to opt-out of online behavioral tracking.  You will not notice any difference in your browsing experience until sites and advertisers start responding to the header,” the company stated Tuesday in a blog post.

Back in January, Mozilla Privacy Lead Alex Fowler explained on his blog how the Firefox “Do Not Track” feature would work.

“When the feature is enabled and users turn it on, web sites will be told by Firefox that a user would like to opt-out of OBA,” Fowler wrote. “We believe the header-based approach has the potential to be better for the web in the long run because it is a clearer and more universal opt-out mechanism than cookies or blacklists.

“The advantages to the header technique are that it is less complex and simple to locate and use, it is more persistent than cookie-based solutions, and it doesn’t rely on user’s finding and loading lists of ad networks and advertisers to work,” he added.

While the advertisers likely aren’t happy about it, this feature is hopefully something we’ll begin to see across all web-connected applications.

If you’d like to try out the feature for yourself, you can download the new Firefox 4 Beta over at Mozilla.com.