Mozilla is to add a feature to its Mozilla Firefox web browser that will allow users to surf the web without being tracked. For the tool to work, however, tracking companies would need to agree to participate and, well, not track the users.
Online tracking is used principally to distribute onlne behavioural advertising, wherein adverts are targetted at users on the basis of the sites and services they access online. Some users consider this a security risk.
According to a blog post from Mozilla's privacy and public-policy leader, Alexander Fowler, the Do Not Track feature comes out of Mozilla's "seeking ways to provide Firefox users a deeper understanding of and control over the flow of personal information online".
He says the feature allows users to "set a browser preference that will broadcast their desire to opt-out of third party, advertising-based tracking by transmitting a Do Not Track HTTP header with every click or page view in Firefox".
When the feature is enabled and turned on, website owners will be informed by Mozilla that the user doesn't want to be followed. Fowler goes on to say: "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."
Although Fowler accepts that the Do Not Track feature is no silver bullet, he says: "It’s important to reiterate that while our initial proposal does not represent a complete solution, this is one step of many for us to see if the header approach can work and confirm that it will provide our users a more nuanced, persistent tool for communicating privacy choices on the web."