Mozilla includes ‘do not track’ feature in new Firefox beta release

Mozilla on Tuesday released a new beta version of the company’s Firefox 4 browser. Included in the release is a new “do not track” privacy feature,  meant to stop online advertisers from monitoring users’ online activity.

“With the integration of the ‘Do Not Track’ option into Firefox 4 Beta, you can now check a ‘Do Not Track’ box in the ‘Advanced’ screen of Firefox’s Options,” Mozilla said in a blog post. “When this option is selected, a header will be sent signaling to websites that you wish to opt-out of online behavioral tracking.”

Mozilla first outlined plans for the privacy feature last month, at about the same time that Google announced its own plans for a similar feature for its Chrome Web browser. Google’s approach, dubbed “Keep My Opt Outs,” is based on a plug-in that actively blocks ad companies from tracking users’ online movements. Microsoft is planning on implementing a similar feature in Internet Explorer 9.

Mozilla’s “do not track” feature relies on an HTTP header that signals to ad companies that a user doesn’t want to be tracked. In theory, it’s then up to to the ad companies to comply with that wish. Whether ad companies will play nice is yet to be seen, but it’s possible that companies will be held to same sort of regulations that enforce the national “do not call” list for telemarketers.

In early December, the Federal Trade Commission advocated an Internet privacy option that would prohibit online ad companies from monitoring users who have opted out of tracking.

Mozilla’s latest Firefox 4 beta is available for download here.

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