What’s new in Firefox 102?
Mozilla intends to add a new privacy feature to the Firefox 102 web browser. It is called Query Parameter Stripping and its purpose is to remove tracking parameters from web URLs in order to increase user privacy.
Mozilla initially included the privacy functionality in Firefox Nightly 96 for testing purposes. Some websites and services add tracking attributes to links to enable cross-site user tracking. Facebook, for instance, appends a unique fbclid string to all outbound links, which is different for each site user.
The parameter can be used for user identification and tracking. As the identity is unique, Facebook may utilize it if one of its scripts is running on the target site, but others may as well.
Not requiring cookies or other data bits is one of the primary benefits of utilizing URL query string identifiers.
Mozilla chose to restrict processing to top-level navigation events in order to decrease the possibility of web compatibility issues. Because of this, navigational events across the same website are not handled.
Protection against navigational tracking is enabled in Private Browsing Mode and when Enhanced Tracking Protection is set to Strict in Firefox. Firefox supports default, severe, and custom Enhanced tracking protection settings.
The privacy.query stripping.enabled option affects whether or not the functionality is enabled in Firefox. Set the about:config option to TRUE to allow parameter stripping.
Mozilla added support for custom parameters that users may add to Firefox in order to have them automatically stripped along with the rest of the built-in stripping. The delimiter for the option privacy.query stripping.strip list is the space character.
The Brave Browser also removes query strings from website addresses. The list that Brave utilizes is public; it contains Facebook’s tracking strings as well as strings used by other services to monitor users throughout the web.
This limitation means that most Firefox users may not gain as much from the privacy enhancement.
Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction, and there is a possibility that Mozilla will enable the functionality for the default mode as well. Most Firefox users may choose to switch to the browser’s severe tracking protection since it enhances their privacy when using Firefox.