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Firefox renews its Referrer policy to improve user privacy

Mozilla Firefox may not be commanding a significant portion of the browser market share but that has not stopped the nonprofit company behind the open source browser in adding protection that enhances privacy over the past few years. The next version of Firefox will take this step further by preventing user browsing from leaking while browsing the Internet.

According to the ZDNet report, the popular open source browser will make significant changes to the way used to send information about the user’s “request” when browsing the web. The browser will limit the information sent to the “target subject” so that the site does not appear accidentally (or intentionally) with personal information.

Firefox

Mozilla’s Firefox transfer policy has been introduced. (Mozilla Security Blog)

By enforcing the posting policy, Firefox will actually limit the information one site shares with them regarding their previous location on the web. For example, downloading a news article from a Google search result will allow the website to read that the user is from Google, and help them understand the type of traffic and various sources.

Unfortunately, as Mozilla explains in its Security Blog, the HTTP Referrer header also contains user privacy information and may disclose which articles a user reads on a targeted website – or add details to a user’s account on the website.

That could also lead to a leak of user privacy due to some sites not having “forwarding policies that can protect data loss. This is where Firefox comes in by “cutting” the information posted on the new site. According to Mozilla, the decision to renew their automatic transfer policy was due to the fact that the web was slow to receive HTTPS-only by default. This move to HTTPS encryption is also greatly appreciated by another Mozilla-supported project – Lets Encrypt.

“Today’s web looks very different: the web is on its way to becoming HTTPS-only, and browsers are taking steps to reduce information leaks across all websites. It’s time to change our default Referrer policy in line with these new goals,” the company Firefox 87 update is expected to be released to users today.

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