'Do Not Track' coming to Firefox 4

The Mozilla browser will reportedly join Internet Explorer in offering an early response to the FTC’s proposed capabilities.

Hard on the heels of Microsoft's decision to offer "do not track" functionality in its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser comes word that Mozilla is planning a similar move for its Firefox 4.

"Technology that supports something like a 'Do Not Track' button is needed and we will deliver in the first part of next year," Mozilla chief executive Gary Kovacs reportedly told Agence France-Presse while demonstrating Firefox 4 recently at Mozilla headquarters. "The user needs to be in control."

While acknowledging that the issue is a complex one that will require balancing the needs of users and advertisers, "I fundamentally believe that the balance is tipped too far," Kovacs said. "You can't tell me the delivery of a piece of content is going to be that much better if you know everything about my life."

In short, "It's all about moderation," he added.

The PEBKAC Factor

Microsoft's announcemen two weeks ago came soon after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's proposal that consumers be allowed to subscribe to a "do not track" system similar to the "do not call" lists used to block telemarketers.

Microsoft's new feature is expected in the release candidate version of Internet Explorer 9 that's due early next year. To put the feature to work, users will turn it on and select a list of sites to block.

Of course, like so many software features, how well it works depends largely on how well users understand it and make it work for them. As my PCWorld colleague Tony Bradley recently pointed out, user error could play a significant role.

Problems could exist, in other words, between the keyboard and the chair (PEBKAC).

Opting Out by Default

Over at Mozilla, meanwhile, discussions have actually been going on since May of this year about the possibility of allowing third-party cookies only until a Firefox session is closed. Effectively, that would mean that the user opts out of online tracking by default.

That feature apparently didn't get implemented, but now -- in the wake of the FTC-inspired discussions -- the sentiment has been revived.

It's not yet clear what form Firefox's feature will take or how it will work, and Mozilla didn't get back to me in time for this post. What is clear, however, is that "do not track" capabilities are going to take center stage in the browser arena next year.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags U.S. Federal Trade Commissionbrowser securityapplicationsMicrosoftsecuritybrowserssoftwaredata protectionprivacymozillaFirefox

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?