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Firefox 85 to Bring Full Network Partitioning to Block Most User Tracking Efforts

Silviu STAHIE

December 22, 2020

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Firefox 85 to Bring Full Network Partitioning to Block Most User Tracking Efforts

Mozilla is preparing to launch a major privacy feature, named network partitioning, with Firefox 85 that’s scheduled for release in January, to reduce websites’ access to gathered data.

Despite all the features added by Internet browsers over the years to prevent websites from tracking users and gathering data that doesn’t belong to them, there’s still a lot to be done. Whether based on Chromium or Gecko, the measures implemented by browsers don’t seem to be enough.

To be fair, some form of network partitioning has been implemented already in some ecosystems, like iOS, but it’s not complete. The network partitioning feature lets the browser separate the stored data for each website. Until now, much of that data was stored in the same location, which meant websites had access to them.

According to a ZDNet report, Firefox will store resources such as cache, favicons, CSS files, images and others separately. In theory, this would make it much more difficult for advertisers and other third-party organizations to track people and their habits, since they no longer have access to the same pool of data.

Since data gathered by the browser is a highly sought off commodity by advertisers, it remains to be seen how this particular marker will adapt. Firefox doesn’t have the same market share as before, but Google Chrome and other browsers already segregate some of the data, and will likely follow Firefox in 2021.

The report also covers all potential network resources that the browser will segregate starting with version 85:

  • HTTP cache
  • Image cache
  • Favicon cache
  • Connection pooling
  • StyleSheet cache
  • DNS
  • HTTP authentication
  • Alt-Svc
  • Speculative connections
  • Font cache
  • HSTS
  • OCSP
  • Intermediate CA cache
  • TLS client certificates
  • TLS session identifiers
  • Prefetch
  • Preconnect
  • CORS-preflight cache

Users shouldn’t notice anything different in their daily use, as the rest of the browser functionality remains the same.

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