Hot on the heels of Firefox 41 – which saw the end of a 14-year-old bug that sucked up memory for Adblock Plus users – Mozilla announced a new beta of the popular web browser.
Firefox 42 beta for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android is packed with new features, such as indicators which make it clear when a tab is playing audio (and a mute button to turn the sound off), as well as improvements to WebRTC, HTML5 and other developer features.
The most significant change to the browser, however, is an experimental private browsing mode with third-party tracking protection.
Whatever you do online is your business, but there are an increasing number of companies who would like to make it their business to target advertising toward you.
Mozilla says its new anti-tracking feature is designed to block certain page elements that track users’ browsing activity across the web:
Most websites rely on many different "third-parties" - companies that are separate from the site you're visiting - to provide analytics, social network buttons and display advertising. These third-parties sometimes include page elements that could record your browsing activity to create profiles about you across multiple sites and Private Browsing with Tracking Protection in Firefox Beta blocks some of these page elements.
The beta version of Firefox 42 also includes a new Control Center for Private Browsing, which groups all of the browser’s security and privacy controls together in one place.
Control Center is where you can temporarily disable Tracking Protection by clicking on Disable protection for this session if it causes webpages to render improperly.
The security-centric update is based around Mozilla’s hypothesis that “users have a greater expectation of privacy when using Private Browsing,” and builds upon research that suggests many of its users thought the existing Private Browsing mode already protected them from third-party tracking across the web.
Tracking Protection offers users protection against social media widgets, analytics and display advertising elements; and removes all cookies, queries and surfing lists when you end your Private Browsing session.
If that sounds good – and I cannot think of any reason why it shouldn’t – you can set it up in the following ways:
- On Windows, Mac and Linux, simply open up the menu (three parallel lines found in the top right corner of the browser) and click on the New Private Window icon to launch a Private Browsing session.
- On Android devices, click the Firefox Menu button (depending upon your device, this can either be found in the top right corner of the browser or below the screen) and then tap the New Private Tab. To open a link in a private tab, long-tap it to bring up a menu and then choose Open link in Private Tab.