Two web browsers now want to help us fight back in what’s becoming an escalating privacy arms race.
New protections in Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox browsers aim to prevent companies from turning “cookie” data files used to store sign-in details and preferences. Safari makes these protections automatic in updates coming Tuesday. Firefox has similar protections on Apple mobile devices and is rolling out them out to personal computers in the coming months. But they can't entirely stop tracking. Cookies and other trackers can be used by companies to keep track of who you are as you move from website to website.
Apple says its tests show that some popular websites are embedded with more than 70 such trackers. Specifically, many of the websites you visit have Facebook "Like" or "Share" buttons embedded in the pages. The buttons, according to the AP, can contain cookies that allow Facebook to keep tabs on you — even if you're not logged into the social network. Many of these are from Facebook and Google, which are expected to command a combined 57 percent of the $107 billion U.S. digital advertising market this year. To get any protection you can’t use Google’s Chrome browser. Lance Cottrell, creator of the privacy service Anonymizer, said Apple’s effort was particularly significant, as it takes aim at a technique developed by tracking companies to override users’ attempts to delete their cookies.