back to article Firefox kills another tracking cookie workaround

Firefox has been fighting the war on browser cookies for years, but its latest privacy feature goes well beyond mere cookie tracking to stop URL query parameters. HTML query parameters are the jumbled characters that appear after question marks in web addresses, like Sites such as Facebook …

  1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    Sounds great

    except when I use Firefox it sucks down 100 percent of my processing power (Windows 7) and runs in fits and starts. So far none of the fixes that come up seem to work. Gonna hope the update solves this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds great

      I'm not denying your experience but all I can say is that for me Firefox went through a period when it seemed a bit of a resource hog but the last couple of years it seems fairly well behaved on Windows 10 (and some other sever versions I've used), on a couple of different flavours of Linux and on various phones.

      It's sort of won me over again, especially with the encrypted DNS option.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Sounds great

        Yes, it had bad memory leaks in the late teens, but it has come a long way in the last couple of years. I've not had any problems on Windows for years, but I use a current version that is supported.

        Likewise on macOS, Linux and Android, it has always performed well - with the exception that it stopped working with password managers on Android in 2020, so I switched to Brave for a while. I still use Safari on iOS, but use Firefox everywhere else.

    2. OhForF' Silver badge

      Re: Sounds great

      Considering extended support for Windows 7 ended Jan 10, 2023 you should not use that machine to browse the web no matter which browser you use.

      While i understand anyone refusing to upgrade to a newer Windows version with all the telemetry you could look for other alternatives. For web browsing any linux flavor would do - i don't know if you have other use cases for that machine.

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Sounds great

        For those who have no choice to "upgrade"to Win10/11 for whatever reasons, you can switch off a lot of the telemetry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sounds great

          I'm not convinced that a closed-source solution from a 'Microsoft Gold Partner' is the best solution.

      2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Sounds great

        "ended Jan 10, 2023"

        Last I checked this is still 2022.

        1. OhForF' Silver badge

          Re: Sounds great

          Thanks for pointing out that bad date to me - if you follow the link you see it actually ended Jan 14, 2020.

          I at least explains the down votes to my original post

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Sounds great

            No, the downvote from me was for the "omigerd get away from Win 7"

            Win 7 still does a ton of things for me that Win 10 absolutely refuses to do, and I just don't have the patience to deal with Windows long enough to figure out why not.

            1. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: Sounds great

              I'm still with XP for pretty much that reason. Luckily I don't need an internet connection for that machine, so it can just sit on the LAN (share access) and be blocked from the outside world by the router.

            2. karlkarl Silver badge

              Re: Sounds great


              And if you truly dig deep and analyse all the updates to Windows 8.1 since Windows 7 went EOL... honestly you will be underwhelmed by just how many of them are actually even security related.

              And 8.1 is still in extended support...

            3. iron Silver badge

              Re: Sounds great

              Bull. I can't think of a single thing you can do with Windows 7 that you can't do with Windows 10. Ditto for the moron below you using XP.

              1. heyrick Silver badge

                Re: Sounds great

                "Ditto for the moron below you using XP"

                Given it's a machine that isn't connected to the internet, has no reason to be connected to the internet, and runs a specific piece of software that I use . . . I think the moron here would be somebody who pays for Windows 10 and the associated hardware upgrade for something that an old XP box does perfectly well.

                Or, in much simpler terms, I have far better things to spend my money on than a new computer to do exactly what I'm doing with the existing machine.

              2. ITMA Silver badge

                Re: Sounds great

                "Ditto for the moron below you using XP"

                Clearly you have no old custom made plant controlled by PLCs for which the Windows software - for uploading/downloading/modifying etc the PLC programming - does NOT run on anything newer than XP.

                For those of us that do, the "moron" choice is throwing out plant with a very high replacement cost (mostly custom built) and stopping multiple production processes JUST so we can move off XP for one machine.

                So who is the moron?

                1. RichardBarrell

                  Re: Sounds great

                  Unrelated to the argument above, I hope you are hoarding compatible hardware spare parts for that. (and have disk image backups)

                  1. ITMA Silver badge

                    Re: Sounds great

                    Yup and yup.

                    Plus plans in motion (at a speed which makes glacier watching seem like a fast moving spectator sport) on upgrading the PLCs to the current range of Mitsubishi units and the internal software translated.

                    It is the last XP machine we have - for this one purpose. Keeping our even more ancient (and increasingly decrpid) plant operational.

                2. eionmac

                  Re: Sounds great

                  I attended a factory with a quarter of a million GBP machine tool which only works to Windows XP. Life of machine tool is greater than 40 years. Windows XP (7 years?) . I got then to buy quite a few XP machines being sold for scrap as owners switched to next Windows series. Try, see working , get spare batteries, get spare RAM, keep in store, Arrange for Windows XP on virtual machines of better newer machines. OH! VM Windows XP does not work in control cycle. VM does not work!

                  Um. This persuaded owner only in future to buy machine tools controlled by FLOSS software.

                  It was a somewhat bad experience.

                  1. ITMA Silver badge

                    Re: Sounds great

                    Oh to be see lucky as to be able to run XP as a VM under something more modern.

                    Unfortunately the hardware interfacing to the PLCs won't work in a VM.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sounds great

            You were right the first time. Extended support ends in 2023. It says so in the very link you posted!

            1. OhForF' Silver badge

              Re: Sounds great

              As the link says Extended Security Update Year 3* ends in 2023, the extended end date for support of Win 7 is already in the past.

              You won't have access to extended security updates unless you(r company) pays a lot for the privilege.

              There are valid reasons to continue running Windows 7 but in my opinion running a web browser is not one of them. There are way safer options to browse the web - including tablets and mobile phones.

      3. ShadowSystems

        Re: Sounds great

        "Switch to Linux" only works if you don't require assistive technology to even interact with a computer at all. For example, if you require a screen reader to read the screen to you, how do you install it before it's working to allow you to install it in the first place? You need a 'reader reading to install a 'reader; see the problem?

        Yes there are distros that supposedly talk to you on boot, but they're not entirely user friendly or system agnostic. As in, if the distro decides it doesn't like the audio chipset of the computer onto which it's being installed, it promptly takes a dump & leaves us up a creek. There's no way to fix a pre-OS-load-and-screen-reader-environment in "safe mode", at the POST nor BIOS screens. The only way a non-sighted person has to get their computer working again is to find a computer repair shop that deals with *nix. That's not always an easy find, especially if you live in a "cow town" that thinks "high tech" involves a digital watch with the green numbers instead of red ones. =-j

        "Just buy an apple" isn't a good "fix" either, especially if the last two systems you've tried to buy direct from Apple have arrived DOA. Audio system not working? Take it to the Apple store. Apple's "fix" for a DOA computer? "Here's your money back." Ummm... fix it? "Too hard. Buy a new one." Ummmm, no? I *just did* and it arrived DOA. Did nobody at Apple bother to, you know, QC this beast?

        Anyway, sometimes the only solution (remaining with Win7) isn't the best solution, but it's the one that has been working, is currently working, and (knocks on wood) will continue to work for the foreseeable future. And unless you're in the habit of updating your SmartPhone every other year, chances are that you're not all that up-to-date either. =-/

        *Hands you a pint*

        Drink up. It'll help drown the sounds of frustrated gnashing of teeth...

        1. karlkarl Silver badge

          Re: Sounds great

          While it will always be possible to find excuses to keep giving Microsoft money (not referring to you since you are recommending keeping with Win7 anyway). Accessibility in terms of eyesight has been fairly solved for many years. This is one of many great projects:

          Once 7 really becomes infeasible in another 10 years, I do hope they consider going FOSS once and for all.

        2. AdmFubar

          Re: Sounds great

          Find a local linux group. I'm sure they will have someone willing to help through an install.

          1. ShadowSystems

            Re: Sounds great

            What part of "cow town" did you not understand? There are no LUG's near me, unless I consider a 2+ hour drive each way to be "local". The closest thing to a computer repair store near me is BestBuy GeekSquad, and they *refuse* to touch anything with *nix on it. Windows, sure; Apple, maybe; *nix, no fekkin' way.

            As for supposedly accessible distros, I am aware of Adrienne & Vinux, neither of which worked for me. Adrienne had the audio chipset issue I mentioned, while Vinux claimed the computer onto which it was being installed (an Intel NUC) didn't have *any* audio subsystem at all. O.o? You mean the computer I'm currently hearing my screen reader through on Windows is unable to talk to me via Vinux? *Sigh*

            Like I said, not everyone can just "use Linux" or "buy an Apple", because sometimes Life likes to donkey-kick you in the fork & laugh at you while you're curled up on the floor counting the sparkly stars currently floating around your head... =-/

            1. SpamuelBeckett

              Re: Sounds great

              "What part of "cow town" did you not understand?"

              I'm probably not going to be the only one to say, all of it. Cow town probably isn't as ubiquitous as you think it is.

              1. ShadowSystems

                Re: Sounds great

                At SpamuelBeckett, re "Cow Town".

                First, please accept a pint for your choice of nickname. I'm a fan of puns & yours definitely bits the fill. =-)p

                Second, the phrase "cow town" is a euphamism that implies a town so rural, agricultural, "back water" in nature that it may only have a single main street, a single stop sign (if it has a stop light then it's posh), a General Store that doubles as either the Post Office, Mayor's Office, Sherrif's Office, or all of the above; you may have to drive/ride a horse/walk "a zillion miles uphill each way" to get to the nearest "large" town with such fancy bits as $FastFood, $CoffeeChain, a library that includes a selection of more than just old magazines so old they were enscribed on papyrus, has a sherrif's office that includes more than a single officer on duty every other weekday, etc.

                In my case, my town supposedly has ~500K residents in it, we're only ~2hours drive from Silicon Valley (where "high tech" tends to get spawned like cockroaches on a pile of sugar), but we can't get high speed internet, can't find a computer repair store beyond the aforementioned BB GS, and the only reason we have an Apple store is because someone in power handed out a few fat brown envelopes to entice them to our local "shopping mall" (if it weren't for the Apple store, it would rightfully be called a "pothole with a few stores around it")...

                I hope that helps clear it up (as clear as mud), but if not, feel free to pelt me with puns until I beg for mercy. =-)p.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sounds great

          Accessibility is more available than your comment claims. I speak from experience.

          "For example, if you require a screen reader to read the screen to you, how do you install it before it's working to allow you to install it in the first place? You need a 'reader reading to install a 'reader; see the problem?"

          Which you had on Windows as well (Windows 10 has one, but 7 didn't have accessible installations). But you can use a number of distros. Take the standard Ubuntu image, boot it, wait for the clunk noise, then press super+alt+S. Voila, the screenreader's running. It's done that for a decade now. Not every one ships the package you need, so if you didn't want Ubuntu, you might have to search for another one. Or you can often script installs to include the packages and configuration you want to start with, which is how I add it to ones that weren't courteous enough to set up a keystroke.

          "The only way a non-sighted person has to get their computer working again is to find a computer repair shop that deals with *nix."

          I certainly commiserate because it is annoying, but you have other options. I assume that, because you're posting here, you have technical knowledge. You can ask someone just to read what's on the screen and select things, meaning you only need someone with working eyes who is willing to spend a few minutes. That's what I do, and although I'd prefer an accessible firmware at all levels, I know it's not going to happen. It's pretty easy to negotiate a person through a BIOS settings window if they don't have to do anything except read the options.

          "Anyway, sometimes the only solution (remaining with Win7) isn't the best solution, but it's the one that has been working, is currently working, and (knocks on wood) will continue to work for the foreseeable future."

          That's not the only option left. Newer Windows versions have screenreader support too, and they have Microsoft's one so you can use it during the initial setup before you put the one of your choice on it.

        4. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Sounds great

          I’m surprised you had that bad luck with apple. Or maybe I’m just lucky in the ones we’ve ordered.

          The m1 Mac Pro we not long picked up wasn’t quite default spec sheet; which means someone personally had to assemble relevant components. Maybe that’s the difference to getting a vanilla model re. QC

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds great

        "Considering extended support for Windows 7 ended Jan 10, 2023 you should not use that machine to browse the web no matter which browser you use."

        Are you saying a still supported OS shouldn't be used? Jan 10, 2023 is next year. I'm still using XP, my next OS will be Mint.

        As long as people use safe browsing practices any browser and OS is safe.

      5. Mike_R

        Re: Sounds great ... Time machine

        ended Jan 10, 2023 ?

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: 100% utilization

      Sounds like your Firefox profile is corrupt (ugh, the typical problem that still plagues Firefox!). You'll have to backup your data and make a new profile

    4. PRR Bronze badge

      Re: Sounds great

      > Firefox it sucks down 100 percent of my processing power (Windows 7)

      Odd. Not counting a couple odd sites which won't even respond in FF, I have used nothing but FF for nearly 20 years. Lately all on Win7. Mostly all runs fine. It went through a year of sloooooow-to-open, so I just left it open 24/7 for weeks.

      In past decades I have resorted to saving bookmarks, writing down all passwords, blowing FireFox totally away with multiple reboots between, and re-installing. It is much less hassle than removing and reinstalling ThunderBird (I have too much email).

      As for Win7-- there are much worse threats than an unsupported O/S. But as a minor band-aid, consider Zero Patch The free app fetches micropatches for the worst vulnerabilities (more comprehensive support if you pay).

    5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Sounds great

      Not really sure why the downvotes, was hoping someone might know why it's become a resource hog. Before I had the resource problem I used Firefox, now I use Brave. But I will probably switch over to Linux at some point. Mint wss lookin good. For now though, the machine does what I want the way I want it, so I see no reason tob change it. If it gets hit with ransomware or something I have other machines.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds great

      Have you considered maybe your machine is as old as the OS it’s running and it’s time for an upgrade?

  2. Vestas

    Won't work in Private Mode unless... go into about:config and toggle "privacy.query_stripping.enabled.pbmode" to TRUE.

    Having said that it should be noted that there are free third-party add-ons for FF which have had this functionality for a few years....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First new FF feature in a while that seems like progress

    Won't break my browser experience any worse than the plugins I've got loaded.

    That said the design model for this seems like it's playing whack-a-mole. I get why having a block list may be the most effective method, but maintaining the list going forward is the difficulty. Like spam and malware block lists they will grow and grow.

    I still have had a wandering eye as far as switching browsers, mostly because Firefox seems to insist of mucking about with the FF UI with every release(stop trying to make FF look like chrome), but also because of the crapware they have shoveled into it. But the comparative ease of ratcheting it down still makes it an ok choice for browsing the 95% of the internet I barely trust to run JavaScript.

  4. Awk_ward

    Didn't see a mention about being able to add your own custom queries to block, like say....Google's own queries, or would that be biting the hand that feeds them?

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Blocking auto-play videos?

    That is what I want on by default, not wasting my bandwidth and annoying my ears on many news sites.

    1. Irony Deficient

      Re: Blocking auto-play videos?

      Once upon a time, going into about:config to set media.autoplay.enabled to false was sufficient. I take it that that no longer suffices? (I still use a crusty old version of Firefox ESR where that did the trick.) If that no longer works, perhaps there are extensions/add-ons/whatever they’re called now that will provide similar functionality? There used to be at least “Autoplay Toggle” and “Disable HTML5 Autoplay”; I don’t know what’s available now.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Blocking auto-play videos?

        Here are the steps to block autoplay using the page info in Firefox:

        Launch the Mozilla Firefox browser.

        Open any site that you want to disable autoplay.

        Right-click anywhere and choose View page info.

        Switch to the Permissions tab.

        Under the Autoplay section, uncheck the Use Default option.

        1. Irony Deficient

          Open any site that you want to disable autoplay.

          Can autoplay only be disabled on a per-site basis (vs. disabling autoplay for all sites in one go) in recent versions of Firefox?

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    MY PC loves cookies!

    I have it setup to deli eat them all when I close the browser on all my various PC operating systems. And as a result FF always runs well, my PC loves being well fed.

    1. Ghostman

      Re: MY PC loves cookies!

      I have the same set-up. Cookies, browser history, web tracking-gone. Then run CCleaner to get rid of the rest.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How the hell can you block QUERY-STRING? Are we meant to pass all parameters via POST now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yes, of course this breaks some hacks, like downloading a video at 10x because you edited the query string and moved the decimal place to the right.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        It breaks more than "some hacks". The query string is part of the HTTP specification, and stripping it will break some conforming sites. For some people that may be an acceptable trade-off. It isn't for me, not least because I have software I've written which makes use of query strings, and I'm not inclined to rewrite it to accommodate a user agent deliberately violating the specification.

        But I haven't used Firefox since they broke my extensions, so I don't particularly care one way or the other. And since this is optional and off by default, I don't much care if Firebox gives it to the users and lets them make their own decision.

        1. notyetanotherid

          It doesn't strip *all* query parameters, just ones that are known to be trackers. Bleeping Computer reports this list:

          Olytics: oly_enc_id=, oly_anon_id=

          Drip: __s=

          Vero: vero_id=

          HubSpot: _hsenc=

          Marketo: mkt_tok=

          Facebook: fbclid=, mc_eid=

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        It's obvious you don't know how http works.

        Also, ironic how you mentioned *EDITING* an existing query string, rather than adding one. Do you see the flaw in your argument?

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