How to Get Better Firefox Tracking Protection on Android

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It’s high time you quit Chrome as your default Android browser. Why? In a word, intimacy. Chrome is one of the most widely used browsers out there, and it’s also one of the least secure. For this reason alone, I recommend migrating to any number of browsers available in the Google Play Store.

For me, the best choice for a default web browser is Firefox. For more than a decade Firefox has been my default on the desktop, and the last year has also seen me switch to the open source browser on Android. It works just as well (if not better) than Chrome and is considerably more secure.

However, out of the box, there is one thing you can do to improve the privacy/security of this browser. This thing comes through tracking protection. By default, Firefox is set to standard protection, which strikes a good balance between privacy and performance. If you want even more security, there’s a better option, and I’ll show you how to enable it.

The warning

Of course, there is a caveat to increasing tracking protection in Firefox. This caveat is that you will probably find that some sites no longer display or are no longer perfect as expected. That’s okay, because you can also add an exception for any site where Enhanced Tracking Protection is causing issues (more on that in a bit).

With that out of the way, let’s configure Firefox for better tracking protection on Android.

Custom Tracking Protection

1. Open Settings

The first thing to do is to open Firefox and press the three-dot menu button in the lower right corner of the window (Figure 1).

Firefox on Android.

Figure 1: The main Firefox window in Android.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the pop-up menu, tap Settings.

2. Open Enhanced Tracking Protection

In the Settings window, tap Enhanced Tracking Protection (Figure 2).

The Firefox Settings page.

Figure 2: The Enhanced Tracking Protection list in the Firefox Settings window.

Image: Jack Wallen

You should see that Enhanced Tracking Protection is enabled by default (picture 3).

The Firefox Tracking Protectin custom option.

Figure 3: Enhanced Tracking Protection is enabled and set to Standard.

Image: Jack Wallen

3. Enable Custom Mode

In the list of options, tap Custom, which will expand the entries (Figure 4).

Firefox's custom tracking protection option.

Figure 4: Everything the custom option will protect against is listed here.

Image: Jack Wallen

I recommend leaving everything enabled and selecting Cross-Site & Social Trackers from the Cookies drop-down list and Across All Tabs from the Content Tracking drop-down list.

Once you have selected Custom, you can exit Settings and start using Firefox.

Adding exceptions

Now that you’ve enabled Enhanced Tracking Protection, you may find that some sites don’t work properly. When you encounter such a site, you want to add an exception, so that Firefox doesn’t prevent those sites from behaving as expected. Adding an exception is very simple.

Here’s how:

  1. Open Firefox and visit the site in question.
  2. On the left edge of the address bar, tap the lock icon.
  3. In the pop-up window, tap the ON/OFF slider (Figure 5) until it is in the OFF position.
Disabling Tracking Protection for a site in Firefox.

Figure 5: Disabling Enhanced Tracking Protection for ZDNet.

Image: Jack Wallen

You should do this for every site you find not working as expected. Once you disable a site for Enhanced Tracking Protection, it will appear in the exceptions window, where you can remove any site by pressing the associated X (Figure 6).

The ZDNet exception listed in Firefox.

Figure 6: Clearing exceptions is just a click of an X away.

Image: Jack Wallen

And that, my friends, is how you can add extra tracking protection to Firefox for Android. Not only do I recommend switching to this default open source browser, but I also suggest enabling additional tracking protection and only enabling exceptions for sites you must use that cannot work with enhanced security .

About Sandra A. Powell

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