Mozilla Rolls Out Android Browser That Blocks Tracking

Touting itself as privacy-friendly, Mozilla has launched an Android version of its Firefox Focus mobile browsing app, which blocks third-party ad trackers by default.

"Firefox Focus allows you to browse the web without being followed by tracking ads," the company says in a blog post announcing the new offering. "Why do we block these ad trackers? Because they not only track your behavior without your knowledge, they also slow down the web on your mobile device."

The browser comes pre-set with Yahoo's search engine, but users can change the default search function to Google,, DuckDuckGo, Twitter or Wikipedia. Each page loads with an icon of a trash can; users who tap on that icon delete their browsing history. 

The company's move comes seven months after it released a comparable app for iPhone and iPad users. The Android version includes some new features, including an "ad tracker counter" that lists how many ads are blocked per site.

Several years ago, Mozilla said it planned to automatically block tracking cookies in the version of Firefox used by desktop and laptop users. The company retreated from those plans after the ad industry campaigned against the initiative.

Since then, Apple has rolled out new tools that help users avoid tracking. Last month, the company said its Safari browser will use artificial intelligence to prevent ad networks and other third-party ad tech companies from tracking users in order to send them targeted ads.

And last August, Apple said its then-new operating system would prevent third parties from using iPhones' and iPads' advertising identifiers -- unique alphanumeric strings -- to track users who turn on their devices' "limit ad tracking" setting. That move aimed to make it harder for companies to collect cross-app data, which can be used for ad targeting, from people who activate their devices' "limit ad tracking" setting.

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