Minigame: Celebrate Firefox 70's release by finding a website with 70+ trackers blocked

Yeah, it's not us


Firefox turned 70 today, at least in terms of version, with an update focused on – surprise, surprise – security and privacy.

In an attempt to hammer home just how much Mozilla is looking after users, the company has added a Privacy Protections Report to illustrate how slurpy some parts of the world wide web can be.

The report follows September's on-by-default Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) and will show a user just how many cross-site and social media trackers, fingerprinters and cryptominers the browser has blocked.

Firefox Monitor is also present, for keeping track of data breaches and flagging up compromised accounts and passwords. Users can additionally get a summary of the number of passwords stashed in the company's login and password shack, Firefox Lockwise, as well as a view of all the devices Lockwise is syncing with.

Mozilla is keen to plug Lockwise, which requires a Firefox account to use. The app – which is available to desktop, iOS and Android users – now permits users to generate new secure passwords ("rather than the typical 123456", which, astonishingly continued to top the charts in 2018, ahead of old favourite "password") and features an improved management dashboard.

The gang is also stripping path information from the HTTP referrer, sent in an HTTP connection, to stop site-to-site tracking. The feature first turned up in January 2018's Private Browsing mode.

Lockwise faces stiff competition from the likes of LastPass and its ilk while competing browsers such as Microsoft's upcoming Chromium-based Edge will also cheerfully block trackers (and warn that going too far might break stuff).

That said, the Privacy Protections report is a very nice thing to look at, although we have to wonder how many users it will tempt from the competition. A quick glance at stat-wrangler NetMarketShare showed the browser had slipped from nearly 10 per cent of the desktop market to below 9 per cent over the last year (although it had at least managed to leapfrog Internet Explorer into second place behind the might of Chrome).

Taking mobile devices into account, the browser slumps to a sad-faced 4 per cent.

Protections aside, there is little in the release to reverse that trend. An improved Javascript Baseline Interpreter will see page load performance improve "by as much as 8 per cent" and compositor improvements in the macOS version have resulted in power efficiencies and page loads sped up by 22 per cent.

Firefox accounts for a hair under 5 per cent of macOS browser share.

Overall, this heavily privacy-focused update is handy, but not earth-shattering and unlikely to lure many over the fence. For some, it not being Chromium-based is reason enough.

There was also a certain joy to be had in seeing just how high we could get those tracker numbers just by visiting some day-to-day sites.

No, we aren't going to name names. Glass houses and all that. ®

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