Tracking Protection Lands in Firefox Nightly for Android

Regardless of privacy and security issues, it’s always struck me as annoying and creepy when web sites continually track user online activity. Nobody likes nosy folks who are always prying into other peoples’ business.

Mozilla added the new tracking protection feature to Firefox Nightly for Windows, Linux and Mac systems in November 2014. The feature uses block lists of domains and sites that are known to track users. When enabled, communication is blocked to those servers on the Internet to improve user privacy.

It works similar to extensions that prevent the loading of tracking scripts on sites but with the difference that it is better integrated in the browser and stopping requests on the network level.

Desktop users of the browser need to change a switch in the browser’s advanced configuration menu before the tracking protection feature becomes available.

The same feature landed in Firefox Nightly for Android now as well. It is disabled by default just like the desktop version but can be enabled in the preferences directly without having to change a configuration switch first.

  1. Tap on the three dots in the upper right corner to display the menu and select Settings from it.
  2. Locate Privacy on the page and tap on it to open all privacy related options.
  3. There you find tracking protection listed at the top. Tap the box next to it to enable it.

firefox android tracking protection

Once enabled, it will block communication to sites that are known to track Internet users. You can tap on the learn more link underneath it to display a basic summary of the feature.

Firefox’s tracking protection feature improves user privacy but it won’t block all advertisement on the Internet. This means that you may still see advertisement on sites occasionally depending on how it is displayed on those sites.

Some sites use their own ad server for instance which may not be blocked. Major advertising platforms such as Google Adsense appear to be blocked though by Firefox’s Tracking Protection feature.

The feature will find its way into the stable version of Firefox eventually. I’d like to see customization options though as it is currently not possible to whitelist sites or add servers that are not yet blocked to the block list. There is also no easy option currently to display the list of servers that get blocked by the extension.

Android users who use ad blocking extensions or apps on their device may benefit from this native implementation as it is not nearly as resource consuming as third-party alternatives.

Android users who want to give Firefox Nightly a try can download and install it on the Mozilla website.

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