Firefox 72 rolls out: No more notification popups, fingerprinting blocked by default

Firefox 72 brings more privacy protection enhancements and addresses annoying notification request popups.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Mozilla has released Firefox 72, bringing more cross-site tracking protections, an answer to annoying notification request popups, floating video windows, and a control to request that Mozilla deletes the telemetry data it's collected. 

Firefox 72 finally offers a better answer to the annoying notifications requests that some websites display in the hope of increasing traffic through notifications. 

Mozilla decided to hide these notifications after finding 97% of users dismissed them. Instead of intrusive popups, notification requests will appear as a "speech bubble" in the address bar.

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Google this week announced it would follow suit in Chrome 80, which will block most notifications popups by default and, like Firefox 72, will show a small icon in the browser address bar. Chrome 80 is due out next month.  

Firefox 72 also does more to tackle the many ways companies track users across websites. It now, by default, blocks browser fingerprinting, a set of tracking techniques that rely on a script to collect unique characteristics of a browser and the device, such as the user's screen size, browser, operating system, and even the fonts the user has installed. 

Firefox 72 relies on a blacklist of companies known to conduct browser fingerprinting. That list is managed by Disconnect

"Firefox 72 protects users against fingerprinting by blocking all third-party requests to companies that are known to participate in fingerprinting," explained Mozilla privacy engineer Steven Englehardt

"This prevents those parties from being able to inspect properties of a user's device using JavaScript. It also prevents them from receiving information that is revealed through network requests, such as the user's IP address or the user agent header."

The privacy feature is part of Mozilla's Enhanced Tracking Prevention, which was recently enabled by default to block third-party tracking cookies and crypto miners.

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A non-privacy feature that Firefox 72 gains is picture-in-picture video, which allows users to open a floating window of a video so they can keep watching content while working in other tabs. 

The feature is available in Firefox 72 for Mac and Linux, and was available in Firefox 71 for Windows. Users should see a blue picture-in-picture icon, which they can select to open the standalone window.      

Finally, Mozilla recently announced that Firefox 72 would include a control to allow users to request Mozilla delete telemetry data as part of its efforts to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Mozilla is yet to explain where the control is located in settings, but it plans on enabling the feature for all users worldwide.   

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