Firefox 70, launched today, introduces a new feature designed to let you see more clearly how companies are attempting to follow you around the web, and what you can do about it.
The new Privacy Protections Report builds on Firefox's Enhanced Tracking Protection, and shows you how many cross-site tracking cookies (used for advertising purposes rather than keeping you logged into a website), fingerprinters (which use your device's unique hardware and software settings to identify you without cookies), social media trackers and cryptominers the browser has blocked.
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The Privacy Protections Report also gathers together stats from Mozilla's other online security tools. If you use Firefox Lockwise to manage your passwords, you'll be able to see how many logins are stored and how many devices they're synced across, and if you've signed up for Firefox Monitor you'll be shown whether any of your email addresses have appeared in known data breaches.
"What we’re focused on in this release is starting to give people that want the option to learn more and understand more about what’s going on with that," Dave Camp, senior vice president of Firefox, told TechRadar ahead of the launch.
"Since we released Advanced Tracking Protection, we’ve blocked about 450 billion tracking attempts. Even though we were expecting it, we still had this ‘wow’ moment when we saw these numbers coming in. And what we’ve been building for users is what we call the Privacy Protections Report, that lets users start to have their own mini version of this ‘wow’ moment and start to take action to protect themselves in addition to what we do for them."
The Privacy Protections Report is unobtrusive, gathering data in the background. To open it, click the shield icon in the address bar and select 'Show report', or open the browser's main menu and select 'Privacy protections'.
It's not just meant to show you how you're being protected passively though – the report is also intended to help you take control over your own privacy, using the data provided to make more informed choices.
"Information is mostly useful when you can use it to take action," said Camp. "And so, when you see in a breach in Monitor, you can go and change your passwords. If you see that social media trackers are trying to track you, you can decide that the companies you are working with aren’t the companies you want to be working with.
"We don’t want to just help users passively, we want to give them tools they can use to actively support themselves if that’s how they want to spend their time. And this is the first step towards that."
You can't take actions directly through the Privacy Protections Report yet (so you can't, for example, click a button to change the password on a site with a known security breach), but such features may arrive in future updates.
The report is also likely to be expanded as Mozilla releases new online security products such as Firefox Private Network (a web browser proxy that's currently in open testing).
"We view the Privacy Protections Report as something that’s at the center of understanding how Firefox is protecting you across all of our products, and so we have currently integrated Firefox Lockwise and Firefox Monitor," Camp told us. "I imagine when other services are released, the Privacy Protections Report will be a way to expose information and actions you can take to understand how those things are working for you."