Mozilla announced that it will start rolling out its ‘Total Cookie Protection’ (TCP) feature by default to all desktop Firefox users worldwide.
In a blog post about the feature, Mozilla detailed how TCP will improve user privacy by confining cookies to the website that created them. Mozilla describes the feature as giving each website its own cookie jar, rather than letting websites share one giant cookie jar (check the illustration above).
This approach to cookies makes it more difficult for trackers to link user activity across websites:
“Any time a website, or third-party content embedded in a website, deposits a cookie in your browser, that cookie is confined to the cookie jar assigned to only that website. No other websites can reach into the cookie jars that don’t belong to them and find out what the other websites’ cookies know about you — giving you freedom from invasive ads and reducing the amount of information companies gather about you.”
Mozilla says that TCP helps prevent the worst privacy problems of third-party cookies while also allowing those cookies to fulfill some less invasive use cases, such as analytics.
However, Firefox isn’t the only browser taking on third-party cookies. Google previously announced plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome but has delayed the move until 2023. Apple’s Safari also offers ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ that helps prevent cross-site tracking.
TCP was first made available in Firefox back in May as an opt-in feature while Mozilla tested it. Today’s announcement will shift the feature from opt-in to on-by-default, which is a big step forward.
Unfortunately, not all Firefox users will have TCP. Notably, mobile versions of the Firefox browser don’t have TCP — at least, for now. Mozilla’s chief security officer, Marshall Erwin, told The Verge that there’s a different timeline for bringing TCP to Firefox on Android. TCP is available on ‘Firefox Focus,’ a version of mobile Firefox that’s all about privacy. However, Erwin also noted that Firefox users on iOS won’t be able to use TCP, citing Apple’s restriction that forces iOS web browsers to use the WebKit browser engine (the same one used by Safari).
TCP will be available in the latest version of Firefox, although it seems unclear how users will be able to verify if the feature is enabled. Previously, users who were invited to test TCP could check whether it was enabled by heading to Settings > Privacy & Security > Enhanced Tracking Protection. Although I’m running the latest version of Firefox, I wasn’t able to find TCP in my settings, although perhaps I’ve jumped the gun on checking since Mozilla only just announced the rollout.
You can learn more about how TCP works here.
Header image credit: Mozilla