Firefox gets its own intelligent tracker blocking in latest version

Firefox (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new version of Mozilla's Firefox browser is available for Mac.
  • Version 87 introduces 'SmartBlock' a new tracking blocker for private browsing.

The latest version of Firefox comes with a new SmartBlock antitracking feature to help make browsing more private on macOS Big Sur and beyond.

In an announcement the company stated:

Today, with the launch of Firefox 87, we are excited to introduce SmartBlock, a new intelligent tracker blocking mechanism for Firefox Private Browsing and Strict Mode. SmartBlock ensures that strong privacy protections in Firefox are accompanied by a great web browsing experience.

SmartBlock is designed to fix issues caused by very strict privacy protections that often result in websites breaking or not loading properly:

In building these extra-strong privacy protections in Private Browsing windows and Strict Mode, we have been confronted with a fundamental problem: introducing a policy that outright blocks trackers on the web inevitably risks blocking components that are essential for some websites to function properly. This can result in images not appearing, features not working, poor performance, or even the entire page not loading at all.

SmartBlock "intelligently fixes up web pages that are broken by our tracking protections, without compromising user privacy." It uses "local stand-ins" for blocked third-party tracking scripts that work just enough like the original one to make your websites load properly. The post explains:

The SmartBlock stand-ins are bundled with Firefox: no actual third-party content from the trackers are loaded at all, so there is no chance for them to track you this way. And, of course, the stand-ins themselves do not contain any code that would support tracking functionality.

Mozilla says the new SmartBlock is "the best of both worlds" with strong privacy protection that doesn't compromise your browsing experience.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9