How to seize control of your privacy with Mozilla’s Firefox browser – PCWorld

When it comes to online privacy, Mozilla’s open-source Firefox browser is probably the best choice for keeping your data away from prying eyes. Even though Mozilla does have some behavior-based advertising on its new tab page, it’s still by far the browser maker that most respects your right to browse unmolested.

Nevertheless, Firefox does require several tweaks if you want to avoid privacy-invading tactics like ad tracking. Here’s a rundown of the basic steps you can take in this browser.

Do not track and tracking protection


The default settings for the Firefox Privacy tab.

To get started, open the preferences tab by typing about:preferences#privacy into the address bar. Or type about:preferences and choose Privacy in the left-hand navigation panel.

First up in the privacy section is tracking. By default, Firefox does not enable the do-not-track feature. You turn it on by clicking the checkbox labeled “Request that sites not track you.”

With this feature enabled, Firefox will make a request to every website you visit that they do not track you. Unfortunately sites don’t have to honor the request, and few do. To enforce your intentions you need to use an add-on such as Ghostery or the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Privacy Badger. Be further warned, however, that some sites are choosing not to allow people to access content with add-ons like these enabled.

Returning to the tracking section in Firefox, there’s a relatively new feature enabled by default called “tracking protection in private windows.” Leave this setting turned on. The new enhanced tracking protection blocks ads and other online trackers when you’re in private browsing mode.

Reconciling with history

By default, Firefox remembers your history, which makes it easier to return to a site you visited a day, week, or even a month ago. Click the drop-down menu labeled “Firefox will:” and you can also tell the browser to never remember your history (the scorched-earth option), or use custom settings. Selecting the latter brings up several new options. At the top is a checkbox for “Always use private browsing mode,” which is another hardcore privacy choice to make. You can find out the full implications of private browsing mode on Mozilla’s support pages.

Below that are a variety of options that are pretty straightforward, but here’s how I would suggest setting it up.


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