You might be waiting a little bit for the privilege, but Mozilla will soon be implementing a new feature that will allow the Firefox browser to block cookies from third-party advertisers by default.
In other words, the browser will mimic the functionality that fans of Apple’s Safari have already been enjoying for some time now. However, it’s unclear exactly when the new feature might make its debut. The patch, contributed by Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer, is scheduled to hit Firefox version 22 we’re currently on Firefox version 19.
“Just to be sure, the Mozilla privacy team is closely monitoring the policy before final release. The patch will spend about 6 weeks each in the pre-alpha, alpha, and beta builds,” he added.
So, what does this all mean for a typical Firefox fan? In short, the patch (politely) sticks it to third-party advertisers who normally drop cookies on one’s browsing experience in order to discern how users surf the Web. This practice can help advertisers serve up ads that are better-targeted to one’s activities and interests, but can irritate those who are looking to keep their Web activities private.
In this case, the patch will only allow cookies to be installed on a user’s system if a user visits the actual site from which the cookie comes. In other words: No site; no cookie.
As one might expect, Internet advertisers are not exactly embracing the switch with open arms.
“This default setting would be a nuclear first strike against ad industry,” tweeted Mike Zaneis, senior vice president and general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
However, it’s important to clarify that the Firefox update doesn’t unlock the capability to block third-party cookies. Users can already do that using a setting found within the “Privacy” tab of Firefox’s general Options menu. What the update does do, however, is flip the switch for accepting third-party cookies off by default.
In the meantime, Mozilla is busy showing off its Firefox OS at Mobile World Congress this week. Phones running the OS are expected to hit nine countries this year and the U.S. in 2014. For more, see PCMag’s hands on with the ZTE Fire, which will feature Firefox OS.