Mozilla’s Firefox is doubling down on blocking internet cookies from tracking your web browsing activities.
In Firefox 86—which launched on Tuesday—Mozilla added a new feature called “Total Cookie Protection,” which is designed to confine cookies to the websites where they originated.
The company describes the feature as creating a digital cookie jar for each site Firefox loads up. “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 that website, such that it is not allowed to be shared with any other website,” Mozilla wrote in a blog post.
The company wants to silo off each cookie—or what’s basically a text file—because websites can share the cookie data. In turn, online advertisers can learn what sites you like to visit in an attempt to send you relevant ads.
“This type of cookie-based tracking has long been the most prevalent method for gathering intelligence on users. It’s a key component of the mass commercial tracking that allows advertising companies to quietly build a detailed personal profile of you,” Mozilla added.
The Total Cookie Protection arrives on top of Firefox’s existing attempts to stop websites and online advertisers from using internet cookies and other computer scripts from building a profile of your internet history. This includes blocking third-party tracking cookies and browser fingerprinting technologies by default.
“In combining Total Cookie Protection with last month’s supercookie protections, Firefox is now armed with very strong, comprehensive protection against cookie tracking,” the company said.
However, Firefox’s new Total Cookie Protection won’t be turned on by default. Instead, it has to be enabled by going into the protection settings on the browser. The user must then set Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection from standard to strict. On the downside, activating the strict protection may cause certain websites or content to break when loaded on the browser.
Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection in strict mode.
The Total Cookie Protection will also make an exception for cookie-related scripts created for non-tracking purposes, like third-party login or password plugins. So the workarounds should help prevent a website from breaking.
“Only when Total Cookie Protection detects that you intend to use a provider, will it give that provider permission to use a cross-site cookie specifically for the site you’re currently visiting,” Mozilla added. “Such momentary exceptions allow for strong privacy protection without affecting your browsing experience.”
To develop the Total Cookie Protection, Mozilla took a page the Tor browser’s “First-Party Isolation” privacy feature, which can also isolate the cookies to a website’s domain. Back in 2017, Mozilla quietly included Tor’s First-Party Isolation capability on Firefox. But to activate it, you had to go install an add-on or modify the parameters in the browser’s settings.