Firefox tracking protection sped up web browsing up to 44% in test


Some websites have dozens and dozens of tracking bugs and libraries, slowing downloads and delaying rendering. If you block them in Firefox, researchers demonstrated, some pages load much faster.

The paper shows that with Tracking Protection enabled, not only did Chew and Kontaxis see a 67 percent reduction in cookies set in the Alexa Top 200 news sites, but page load times were reduced by a median 44 percent, and overall data usage was reduced by 39 percent. Even if you aren’t too concerned about privacy, that speed increase alone might be enough of a reason to enable the feature.

The speed boost comes from blocking requests to tracking domains, so it won’t speed up browsing across the board, but considering the amount of sites that use some sort of tracking, the benefit should be fairly noticeable. Currently, Tracking Protection isn’t turned on by default, as Mozilla is still gathering feedback about how the feature works, but it’s fairly easy to enable the feature.

Previously: Facebook told to stop tracking logged-out web users Read the rest

Advertisers launch campaign to bury "unfavorable media attention" over tracking

The Direct Marketing Association has launched a $1m campaign to convince the public that being tracked online creates "value for consumers".

The Data-Driven Marketing Institute will redouble DMA’s efforts to explain the benefits of the consumer data industry to the public and policymakers, with the goal of preventing needless regulation or enforcement that could severely hamper consumer marketing and stifle innovation, tamping down unfavorable media attention, and reminding and educating consumers about the many and varied ways that their needs are met and they are thrilled and delighted.

Isn't it a bit old-school to found scientific-sounding "institutes" to trick people into liking stuff that's bad for them? Very Big Tobacco. Read the rest

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FBI shuts off thousands of GPS devices after Supreme Court ruling, now having trouble finding them

A recent US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices "has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department." Following the ruling, the FBI turned off an estimated 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use. But how to locate the little buggers to take them home?

From the WSJ, quoting FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann:

These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.

After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.

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