Mozilla Firefox Introduces 'Total Cookie Protection' And Turned It On By Default To All Users

Firefox Total Cookie Protection

Mozilla is not only the maker of a popular web browser, when it ventured away and beyond, to also become a privacy tool for internet users.

And this time, Mozilla is extending its anti-tracking protections of its browser even further, by introducing what it calls the 'Total Cookie Protection' feature. What it does, is giving users an enhanced protection against online tracking, by limiting the ability of websites and online services to read cookies created by third-party services.

According to a blog post, Mozilla explained that with the feature, access to any given cookie will be restricted to the website that deposited the cookie in a user’s browser.

Mozilla describes this feature like an equivalent of a "cookie jar" for each websites, which prevents trackers from linking up user behavior across multiple sites.

What this means, a cookie created by one website or service will not be readable by other websites that a user visits.

Firefox browser that is already known for its privacy protections, is becoming more private because of this cookie-restriction feature.

"Any time a website, or third-party content embedded in a website, deposits a cookie in your browser, that cookie is confined to the cookie jar assigned to only that website. No other websites can reach into the cookie jars that don’t belong to them and find out what the other websites’ cookies know about you — giving you freedom from invasive ads and reducing the amount of information companies gather about you."

With this approach, Firefox is creating a balance between eliminating the worst privacy properties of third-party cookies (like excessive tracking and privacy violations), and allowing those cookies to fulfill their less invasive use cases (like providing accurate analytics).

Describing the need for this feature, Mozilla cited various examples of the misuse of tracking, including Facebook’s digital tracking of student loan applicants and the selling of data on visitors to Planned Parenthood.

Mozilla’s chief security officer Marshall Erwin said that the feature is to give the control back to users, and giving users the ability to control their own data.

"Internet users today are stuck in a vicious cycle in which their data is collected without their knowledge, sold, and used to manipulate them," said Erwin.

"Total Cookie Protection breaks that cycle, putting people first, protecting their privacy, giving them a choice and cutting off Big Tech from the data it vacuums up every day. The feature offers Firefox’s strongest privacy protection to date and is the culmination of years of work to clamp down on online tracking."

Total Cookie Protection
Total Cookie Protection creates a separate cookie jar for each website users visit. (Credit: Mozilla/Meghan Newell)

It's worth noting through, that despite Mozilla is becoming more private, it may take more than just a cookie protection feature to curb major tech companies.

From Meta to Google, these tech titans live and thrive from user data. They are operating a massive amount of trackers, and have been known to use "good" trackers for "bad" intentions.

However, Firefox's approach to block third-party tracking should certainly bring clear privacy gains.

This feature is available only on Firefox for desktop.

Mozilla is operating a different timeline for mobile rollout, Erwin said, though the technology is already available in the privacy-centric “Focus” version of the Firefox browser on Android.

This privacy-protection feature couldn't be released on iOS because of App Store rules preferring Apple’s WebKit browser engine over alternatives, Erwin said.

While Firefox users on iOS couldn't use this feature, Apple has won praise from privacy advocates for its aggressive measures to block tracking across iOS applications.