back to article Today in tortured tech analogies: Mozilla lets Firefox loose in the hen house, and by hen house, we mean the tracking cookie jar, er...

Mozilla has declared that its latest Firefox browser will no longer allow third-party tracking cookies by default, pushing an existing limited-audience feature to all users. The so-called Enhanced Tracking Protection feature is being built into version 69 of the browser. It more or less implements an age-old feature of browser …

  1. jake Silver badge

    Can one remember the present?

    "Remember when people didn't use browsers from the one of world's biggest adtech giants?"

    People still don't. Sheeple, on the other hand ...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Can one remember the present?

      https://www.xkcd.com/1013/

      1. TimeMaster T
        Alert

        Re: Can one remember the present?

        I think we're safe as long as he isn' t trying to wake them.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Can one remember the present?

          If the sheeple I was talking about would wake up, I'd party. Can you imagine how much better this dampish rock would be if even half of the population would learn to think for themselves, instead of how their shaman of choice told them to think?

  2. George of the Jungle

    I'd been looking to move from Chrome after it became such a memory hog and went back to Firefox. I've been running v68 with enhanced tracking and the Privacy Badger add-in and it stops most everything I need to stop. I use Chrome only to run the Google-related apps I need for work.

    1. <BLINK/>

      Worth running HTTPS everywhere too.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Everyday browsing/email/RSS/Usenet is Seamonkey here.

    Palemoon set slightly less tied down than the Seamonkey installation for a few sites.

    Waterfox even less tied down for less friendly sites but with data cleared at close-down. Cookies? Don't care, they'll be gone. FIngerprinting? Don't care, I'll likely not be back.

    ISTR taking a look at Chromium some time ago but didn't bother with it.

  4. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thanks...

    ...for the heads up on the advanced tracking protection features, I've now turned them on the current version 68.

  5. Chronos Silver badge

    Google’s Chromium platform has won that war

    You mean Webkit, i.e. Konqueror -> Safari -> Chrom[e|ium]. Honestly, you'd think Google said "Let there be light" right at the start...

    1. revenant Silver badge

      re 'Let there be light'

      In the beginning was the Word, and the word was "Google".

      Apparently.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re 'Let there be light'

        >In the beginning was the Word, and the word was "Google".

        I thought it was "Netscape"

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: re 'Let there be light'

          You thought wrong. It was telnet. See RFC 15.

          50 years old in three weeks. Where does the time go?

          1. Charles Calthrop

            hate it. use it

            >In the beginning was the Word, and the word was "Google".

            Nope, it was "untitled"

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/58/Ws7_xp.PNG

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re 'Let there be light'

            Yeah, if you're only just hitting 50 I can see why you think it was telnet. Try morse.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: re 'Let there be light'

              Yeah, if you're only just hitting 50 I can see why you think it was telnet. Try morse.

              Try signalling with a Japanese war fan. Much earlier than morse.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: re 'Let there be light'

              I hit 50 ::mumble:: years ago, I was clearly talking about telnet. I thought we were talking about TehIntraWebTubes, mayhap I was wrong? And what does that have to do with Morse?

              If you want to discuss store-and-forward networks, we'll have to go back to before the Fall of Troy. (If you don't have a classical education, read Aeschylus' Agamemnon, paying close attention as to how Clytemnestra got word of her husband's victory overnight from an as-the-crow-flys distance of 400km/250mi. The technology was already ancient by that time.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re 'Let there be light'

          That would be Spyglass then, I think :)

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Except it is no longer Webkit, but Blink in the background. They branched that off a few years back now.

  6. Corwin_X

    You'll take my Firefox when you pry it from my cold dead fingers! ;-)

    I'm a greybeard - first browser I used was Mosaic, then through Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox

    Comes down to a matter of trust - Firefox 8 v Chrome 1. Do I want my browser tied to an advertising platform with murky privacy settings or a somewhat independent software producer?

    I uninstall Chrome when another application install pushes it (happens a lot these days, without them asking first) and haven't touched IE (any version) for over a decade.

    1. Corwin_X

      My one grouch is they keep effing about with what functions are supported userChrome.css.

      Just installed (then uninstalled) v69 - and yes: my tabs moved yet again to the top instead of the bottom.

      They seem to be on a messianic mission here - it's against God and nature to have the tabs at the bottom just above the page!

      I'll reinstall when I find the latest fix for tabs on bottom.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        My one grouch is they keep effing about with what functions are supported userChrome.css.
        Is this a case of them not supporting them or it nor even reading your userChrome.css file as per the release notes? (I'm not saying this is the issue, it's just something I noticed in the release notes that may be a source of your issues)

        Release notes:

        Firefox no longer loads userChrome.css or userContent.css by default improving start-up performance. Users who wish to customize Firefox by using these files can set the toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets preference to true to restore this ability.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Firefox no longer loads userChrome.css or userContent.css by default improving start-up performance.

          Yes, got caught by that one. Two hours of irritation while dealing with a more significant problem (other half's Mac Mini suddenly refusing to talk to HDMI) then a quick search followed by a flag toggle to get back to sanity.

    2. Steve Graham

      I was a happy Firefox user until they broke it on Linux. It now has a dependency on Pulseaudio for sound, and Pulseaudio is Poettering-droppings.

    3. Flywheel Silver badge

      greybeard

      Do you remember when the Rolling Stones put up a web site that needed a browser that supported.. Java?

  7. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Quite like the Brave Browser.

    It's got an ad-blocker, cookie control and it syncs across my various Android and other Windows computers.

    It certainly loads pages very fast.

    Based on Chromium, I can choose from a heck of extensions if need be.

    I suggest people give it a look.

    www.brave.com

    1. Florida1920

      "Quite like the Brave Browser.

      "It's got an ad-blocker, cookie control and it syncs across my various Android and other Windows computers."

      Sorry: https://brave.com/brave-ads-waitlist/

      "Brave uses local machine learning with the browser profile to only place ads in optimal conditions. Ads are matched to opportunities, and users become partners instead of targets."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Based on Chromium, I can choose from a heck of extensions if need be."

        Meaning it's Google's spyware tool. Anything else it does is 100% irrelevant.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Is that the one that replaces ads on the websites you visit with its own?

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        I only use it for websites that require flash, since it has a built-in version that doesn't crash as often as the add-on. Fortunately, those are slowly disappearing - and chrome can go with them.

        Never liked it with it's awkward non-theme-respecting menus and space-wasting permanent tabs. Was upset when firefox pointlessly copied it. But pale moon is still fine.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "builds it into the core product"

    WTF. It's already there!

    Edit->Preferences->Privacy

    Select "Firefox will use custom settings for history" then "Accept third-party cookies: Always/From Visited/Never"

    This is in FF 43.0.4, the last version before they removed fine-grained cookie control. So they apparently took the shit out, and put it back in, to rounds of applause for being such a wonderful browser maker??

    Perhaps this explains why "Firefox has long since passed its glory days when it was a real player in the browser wars"

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "builds it into the core product"

      WTF. It's already there!

      Difference is, by default it's set to "always" in the past. Not it's set to "Never" (I guess. Dropped FF when they dropped support for my preferred addons, now use Waterfox and sometimes Pale Moon (the latter had some odd issues with a few sites I was a regular at)

    2. AdamWill

      Re: "builds it into the core product"

      The story doesn't explain it very well, but I think this feature is rather more fine-grained than just 'accept all third party cookies' or 'deny all third-party cookies'. It attempts to identify 'bad' third-party cookies and block those, while allowing 'good' or at least 'not obviously awful' ones, I guess.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: "builds it into the core product"

        "The story doesn't explain it very well, but I think this feature is rather more fine-grained than just 'accept all third party cookies' or 'deny all third-party cookies'. It attempts to identify 'bad' third-party cookies and block those, while allowing 'good' or at least 'not obviously awful' ones, I guess."

        More specifically, the default is now that it will block all third party cookies as listed by Disconnect.me, and you can choose between the less strict level 1 list or the more comprehensive level 2 list. If that's not enough for you, you can block all third party cookies, or all cookies. Or none. Or define your own black and/or white lists. It's about as fine-grained as you could want it, and I don't believe that's changed for a good few versions*; the only news here is that the default setting has been changed.

        * I have version 53 on an old offline machine, and that doesn't have any options related to cookies at all, so Gene Cash appears to be correct that they did remove these options at one point. It's much better now though, starting with version 63 according to the help page.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: "builds it into the core product"

        Blocking 3rd party cookies was an option in Netscape Navigator back in the 90s and I've had it enabled ever since.

  9. FrankAlphaXII
    WTF?

    How does a third equal single figures?

    See title.

    My math isn't the greatest but two thirds of a hundred would be 66.66... the remainder of that would be 33. That's not single digits, and I strongly doubt that IE has anywhere near that high of a marketshare except in corporate environments where crappy halfbaked enterprise software still requires it.

    Just sayin'

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: How does a third equal single figures?

      Have a look at the netmarketshare.com link in the article. FF 9%, IE 8%.

      Frankly, I'm surprised Safari is so low, as it's the default on iPhones. On the other hand, Chrome figures are for both mobile & PC

      1. AIBailey

        Re: How does a third equal single figures?

        Frankly, I'm surprised Safari is so low, as it's the default on iPhones. On the other hand, Chrome figures are for both mobile & PC

        No, the figures for Chrome (66.93%) are for Desktop/Laptop machines only. You can change the machine type to Mobile, and see that again Chrome has a high share (63.74%), however in that instance Safari has almost 27%.

      2. Not also known as SC

        Re: How does a third equal single figures?

        Doesn't netmarketshare use advertising data to calculate the ratios of browsers? Assuming that most FF users also install NoScript that might explain why the FF figures are so low? Or maybe FF is just really unpopular after all?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How does a third equal single figures?

          "Doesn't netmarketshare use advertising data to calculate the ratios of browsers? Assuming that most FF users also install NoScript that might explain why the FF figures are so low?"

          Yes. Only actual reason to use FF is to *disable ads* and TheRegister dropped to that trap head-on: Ad-site would never know about most FF users.

  10. earl grey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    wait, google has a brower?

    Never loaded it once. Not planning on it, either.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: wait, google has a brower?

      I have, but I was being careless

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: wait, google has a brower?

        At least you didn't inhale...

    2. AdamWill

      Re: wait, google has a brower?

      Foolish mortal, what makes you think your feeble 'plans' matter to Google?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: wait, google has a brower?

        Foolish consumer, what makes you think the gookid's feeble `plans` matter to me?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: wait, google has a brower?

      Google Ultron

  11. pavel.petrman

    Good job getting rid of the tracking cookies

    ... except that the big players in the unauthenticated part of the Web (of which there is a whole one, compared to a one in the authenticated part - you've guessed the names all right) don't need any cookies anymore. Given they own pretty much all of the infrastructure (other people's OS's and websites, in other words) and the cheapness of behavioral fingerprinting, they actually don't need the feared browser fingerprinting either.

    The whole fight against tracking cookies reminds me of the famous React OS in which we can now reliably run mspaint.exe from Windows 98 to avoid the licensing and slurping woes of Windows 10. Well meant, and big kudos from me to all the people who made this possible (often in their leisure time), since it shows that there are still people who do care. But it is important nevertheless to stay current and understand that the big bags of sweet sweet dollars have already moved elsewhere some time ago.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chrome is a PUP

    Google's dominance is not due to a superior browser, but to underhanded tactics.

    A large proportion of the worlds PC users can barely manage to switch their machines on; and they use whatever came pre-installed.

    Then Google comes along, with its cohorts silently installing Chrome in parallel to updates of certain infamous software packages (looking at you Adobe); and setting it as the default browser.

    Suddenly the users are faced with a new layout; but have no idea what has happened, or how to revert - so just make the best of it and carry on.

    The glut of Chrome mobile users has been relatively new one, as Chrome suddenly started appearing as the default browser across a wide range of Android phones only about 2-3 years ago - and you are unable to delete it!!

    Worse, several other system apps are hard-wired to use it, so even if you install a different browser, those apps will bypass it and use Chrome.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Chrome is a PUP

      As I've often said, drive by downloads are the main reason I will never use Chrome. Personally I don't like it as a browser anyway, been using Firefox for years or Opera in some instances.

      1. petethebloke

        Re: Chrome is a PUP

        Hasn't Opera been sold to a Chinese company? I'd be nervous about that. (I'm nervous about everything).

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Chrome is a PUP

          Yes, but I only use it for certain things, none of which are personally identifiable or use logins.

          There have been quite a lot of threads etc around the net about the Chinese purchase, particularly the built-in VPN, so I certainly wouldn't use it for banking or anything like that.

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Chrome is a PUP

      Not to mention pushing it on one through their search site. Always popping up messages trying to get one to switch to chrome (do they still do that? I don't use google search much anymore). Those same users you mention who can barely turn on a machine will get that message and obey it since it came from the google search page.

  13. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Terminator

    Targeted advertising?

    So they keep saying. TBH, I've never seen anything even remotely "targeted" aside from the Amazon "people who bought that, bought this" stuff. Even the side ads that stalk you after you've bought something are crude devices. I bought what I want, I don't want another - go away.

    So, who is collecting these data, and to what purpose...?

    1. Not also known as SC

      Re: Targeted advertising?

      My wife gets it a lot. She will look at shoes (sorry but this is true) on one web site and five minutes

      later Facebook is full of shoe adverts.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Targeted advertising?

        My wife had a similar problem. She had to temporarily drop the blocks in order to view a client's facebook page (or instagram, or whatever it was), along with associated youtube stuff. After viewing it, she forgot to turn the blocks back on, and went looking for who had her favorite "work" bras on sale.

        She remembered to turn the blocks back on after a couple minutes, maybe five, probably after looking at eight or ten pages. But the rot had already set in. For MONTHS afterwards, the bright sparks at advertising agencies across the planet decided she needed to see bra adverts whenever possible. It was surreal, she'd look up horse blankets or forklift parts or muck forks and get bra adverts ...

        I wonder how much longer the ad-pushers are going to be able to carry on their con? P.T. Barnum lived a century or so too early ...

  14. ecofeco Silver badge

    Thanks

    Updated.

  15. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Up

    I'm in

    See title.

  16. adam payne Silver badge

    I've been using Firefox for years now and there is no way i'm going to use anything else if I can help it.

    I do use IE on occasion, you know just for the nostalgia.

  17. poohbear

    "inexplicably threw in the towel" ... nothing inexplicable about it, they finally listened to what I've been telling them for years... :-)

  18. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    It would be nice to know

    What is the breakdown of browsers used to view ElReg?

    Or are you not allowed to log that any more?

  19. just-another-dev

    First Party Isolate

    I'm a huge fan of Firefox. Unfortunately, from my perspective, 69.0 is less secure than 68.0.2. This is due to the fact per-domain cookie settings are broken when first party isolation is enabled. Hopefully the regression (see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1556212) gets fixed ASAP.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Firefox has long since passed its glory days when it was a real player in the browser wars: Google’s Chromium platform has won that war,"

    This is kind of bullshit as chromium is the default on phones and there are so many phones. Browsing in phone is horrible though and I'd never install Google spyware, i.e. Chromium, into my computer.

    it's literally data slurping tool disguised as browser. No-one who actually cares about privacy is using it.

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