Mozilla, Google launch anti-tracking browser tools

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Mozilla and Google said January 24 that they will provide options in their respective Firefox and Chrome Web browsers to block the tracking of consumers' online behavior.

Mozilla will let consumers opt out of tracking and behavioral advertising in its next browser update, Firefox 4.

“We believe it's crucial to put people in control of their personal Web interactions and experiences,” said Alex Fowler, global privacy and public policy leader at Mozilla, on his personal blog. A Mozilla representative referred requests for comment to Fowler's blog.

Google unveiled its privacy extension, called “Keep My Opt-Outs,” on the Google Public Policy blog. The tool, released January 24, helps Chrome users permanently opt out from ad tracking cookies.

The company developed the browser add-on based on existing platforms for helping consumers opt out of tracking, said Christine Chen, senior manager of global communications and public affairs at Google.

“The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) and AboutAds.info already offer a centralized website for managing opt-outs,” Chen said. “We're building on that work by offering an extension that makes the opt-outs permanent, even if you clear your cookies.”

Mike Zaneis, SVP and general counsel at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said Google's technology will be more effective than Mozilla's because it's industry supported and more practical.

“The day after the Google technology is launched, it will have a positive effect on the consumer,” he said. “Today [there's only] a cookie-based opt-out that gets deleted all the time. This new extension will harden that choice.”

Online advertising self-regulation group the Digital Advertising Alliance endorsed TRUSTe's “Trusted Ads” consumer-education platform on January 20. The group has also endorsed similar services from Evidon, formerly known as Better Advertising, and DoubleVerify.

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