Mozilla’s Firefox browser is set to roll out a new feature that will greatly simplify user privacy controls. In the upcoming update, users will be able to activate the Global Privacy Tool directly from the privacy settings. This tool, a universal “do-not-share-my-data” command, has been developed by privacy advocates with the aim of allowing users to reject targeted advertising across the web, eliminating the need to opt out on a company-by-company basis.
This development comes in the wake of new laws and regulations passed in several states including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, and Texas. These laws require companies to honor universal opt-out mechanisms like the Global Privacy Tool. The new Firefox release, version 120, will ship with the Global Privacy Control turned off by default in the normal browsing mode, but activated in private browsing mode.
Some other browser developers, such as Brave and DuckDuckGo, have opted to turn on the Global Privacy Control by default. Firefox has included a version of the Global Privacy Control since late 2021, but activating the tool was previously more complex than simply checking a box. This move is expected to simplify the process for users who value their online privacy.
The advertising industry, however, has expressed concerns over these developments. They argue that companies should not be required to honor do-not-track settings that are set by default. Additionally, they claim that mandates to honor universal opt-outs infringe advertisers’ First Amendment rights by unreasonably burdening “commercial speech”. Despite these concerns, Firefox 120, complete with the simplified Global Privacy Control, is expected to ship next month.