Mozilla privacy chief proposes behavioral tracking block for Firefox

Fowler revealed his intent to bring the “Do Not Track” concept to the Firefox browser’s open-source development community this past weekend in an effort to “provide Firefox users a deeper understanding of and control over the flow of personal information online”, according to a post from his personal blog.

As described by Fowler, the system would allow users of the Firefox browser to opt-out of third-party OBA tracking by changing browser preferences to transmit a “Do Not Track HTTP header”. The header would apply to all pages viewed through the browser and would still allow for standard ads, as it would only apply to personalized OBA ads.

“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”, Fowler added.

Fowler said this header technique would be less complex than cookie-based solutions, but that challenges remain in that both the browser and websites would need to implement the solution for it to be fully effective. While the opt-out feature will not be immediately available, Mozilla’s head of privacy said it would be considered for future releases of the Firefox browser.

He continued by saying that this approach is in line with the FTC’s call for a “more uniform and comprehensive consumer choice mechanism for online behavior advertising”.

“My colleagues are posting our proposal to the Mozilla community today for discussion, along with the technical patch to be considered for implementation in Firefox”, Fowler said in parting. “We are also committed to working with the technical community to standardize the header across the industry. We ask that sites and advertisers join with us to recognize this new header and honor people’s privacy choices just as they are with opt-outs for OBA.”

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