After nearly two years of meetings, the online ad industry and privacy advocates in the U.S. are no closer to establishing a “do-not-track” protocol that would govern when, and how, personal data can be collected from web surfers.
So Mozilla, the non-profit maker of the popular Firefox browser, has taken matters into its own hands. It’s planning to go ahead with a special default plug-in that will automatically block cookies, the tiny bits of code that are quietly deposited on users’ computers so they can be followed around online. (Apple’s Safari browser also blocks third-party cookies.)
The move has been called a “nuclear first strike” against the online ad industry, which argues that personal data—everything from geographic locations to browsing histories—are needed to better target the ads that pay for web content. But Internet users have concerns of their own. And now Firefox is giving them a way to make their voices heard—or, at least, their personal information hidden.