How to Browse the Web on Android Devices Without Being Tracked

May 23, 2011
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Not many people know–or even mind–the fact that many of the websites they visit actually track their browsing behavior. The primary purpose for such tracking is to deliver behavioral advertising and/or to deliver customized content. For instance, based on your IP address, a website can determine your geographic location and display, say, the current time, day, and weather in your specific area. Essentially, browser tracking–if well-used and well-implemented–can make your browsing experience pleasant.

A lot of people, however, want to have complete control over their browsing and do not wish to be tracked. When using an Android phone or tablet, how can you stay away from trackers? Mozilla Firefox has the answer.

Just released last Friday, the latest update to Firefox for Android now includes the Do Not Track feature. It is the first mobile browser to include this privacy feature.

Mozilla’s security and privacy guy, Sid Stamm, explains on his blog that Firefox for Android’s Do Not Track feature sends a “DNT: 1″ to the web server. The signal tells the web server that you do not wish it to track you. All these communications happen under the hood, of course, and you’ll not see the transactions because the signal is sent as a Do Not Track HTTP header.

Get Firefox for Android from the Android Market -- It's FreeTo turn on the Do Not Track feature on your Firefox for Android browser, simply switch it on from the Preferences screen.

To check whether your browser’s Do Not Track feature is on, you can visit http://dnt.mozilla.org/. The graphic on the top of the right sidebar will indicate the status of the Do Not Track feature on your Android.

The updated beta of Firefox for Android also weeded out bugs related to page load speed, panning, compatibility with SwiftKey, downloaded images, color conversion, consistent dialog prompts, and others.

Contrary to popular notion, Do Not Track is not an ad-blocking feature, although it may alter the type of ads that you will see when visiting web sites.

Firefox for Android is still in beta, but it’s already an amazing piece of work. Don’t you think it’s worth switching over from your Android’s default browser to one that gives you more control over your privacy?

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