Firefox 87 Introduces 'SmartBlock' Private Browsing Feature to Fix Websites Broken By Tracking Protections

Mozilla has released Firefox 87 for Macs, Windows, and Linux machines, introducing a new intelligent tracker blocking mechanism called SmartBlock.

mozilla firefox banner
Since 2015, Firefox has included a built-in Content Blocking feature that automatically blocks third-party scripts, images, and other content from being loaded from cross-site tracking companies in Private Browsing windows and Strict Tracking Protection Mode.

Mozilla recognizes that the feature sometimes blocks legitimate elements of websites which can cause them to malfunction. SmartBlock aims to provide a solution to this problem without compromising user privacy. From the company's blog:

In building these extra-strong privacy protections in Private Browsing windows and Strict Mode, we have been confronted with a fundamental problem: introducing a policy that outright blocks trackers on the web inevitably risks blocking components that are essential for some websites to function properly. This can result in images not appearing, features not working, poor performance, or even the entire page not loading at all.

To reduce this breakage, Firefox 87 is now introducing a new privacy feature we are calling SmartBlock. SmartBlock intelligently fixes up web pages that are broken by our tracking protections, without compromising user privacy.

Mozilla says SmartBlock works by providing local stand-ins for blocked third-party tracking scripts that behave "just enough" like the original ones to make sure that the website works properly.

The stand-ins come built-in to Firefox, so no third-party content from the trackers is loaded by the browser, meaning they can't track users this way. According to the developers, SmartBlock will silently stand in for several common scripts classified as trackers on the Disconnect Tracking Protection List, and should provide a noticeable performance improvement while browsing.

The previous version of the browser introduced Total Cookie Protection, which is designed to stop cookies from tracking users across the web. Firefox 87, the latest update, is available now from the Mozilla website.

Top Rated Comments

Nozuka Avatar
15 months ago
I love their Container feature. You can create seperate "Cookie containers" for websites like Facebook, Youtube, etc.
That way you will keep your settings on these websites, but when you visit other websites, they can't abuse these cookies for tracking you, since they are not available there. Or a seperate container for e-banking.

It also allows you to have several containers for the same website, so you can use more than one user on the same website. Very convenient if you have a personal and a business Office 365 account, for example.

Requires the extension from firefox: "Multi-account Containers" to make full use of it.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wanha Avatar
15 months ago
Never been much of a Firefox user, but I applaud Firefox for their actions on privacy.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adrianlondon Avatar
15 months ago

Never been much of a Firefox user, but I applaud Firefox for their actions on privacy.
I'm surprised that Firefox actually runs faster on my MBA (Big Sur latest beta) than Safari, although I think that's due to the amount of stuff it natively blocks, along with uBlock Origin, rather than any rendering advantages.

Two main reasons I prefer Firefox. (1) cookie control especially with Containers and (2) the way going to previous pages while reading forums doesn't reload and send pages pack to the top. Oh, and (3) uBlock Origin.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bandaman Avatar
15 months ago
Dunno what's going on with Firefox lately, but it's ridiculously fast on my Mac.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MJaP Avatar
15 months ago
I always use Firefox on my Windows PCs, I've found it fast and secure. Best alternative to Safari in my opinion.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bandaman Avatar
15 months ago

Faster than Safari?
Yes. Much. And if you go into about:config and up the process count from 8 to say ... 100 ... it's comically faster. This is easily faster than Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Brave. It's also incredibly smooth and stable. Just the whole feel of this version of Firefox is really great. This will be my main browser again for a while and I've been on brave for quite some time. Also, the ad blocking by default on iOS is really great, even blocks stuff Brave seems to miss. I don't see most ads on websites with Firefox when I set it to strict mode.

Another very important point ... I can open a million tabs in Firefox and nothing slows down. Like ... at all ... and all the websites are responsive. I'm honestly impressed. Hopefully these great strides in the Firefox experience keeps them from disappearing. We need more non-Chromium browsers competing with Google. Sucks that Google basically owns 90% of the browser use market with either Chrome or a Chromium-based browser ... so much that even Microsoft caved in. I'm glad to support Mozilla for not being like everyone else.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

tmobilelogo

T-Mobile Says iOS 15.2 Bug Turning Off iCloud Private Relay for Some Users

Tuesday January 11, 2022 12:02 pm PST by
T-Mobile has not disabled iCloud Private Relay for its subscribers, in contrast to recent reports suggesting the carrier was preventing iPhone users from enabling the feature. In a statement to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, T-Mobile said that iOS 15.2 device settings that default to the feature being toggled off, and that Apple has been contacted. T-Mobile explicitly says that iCloud relay has...
apple tv plus up next website

Apple TV+ Website Gains Up Next Queue

Wednesday March 23, 2022 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple has updated its dedicated Apple TV+ website with an Up Next queue for shows, making it easier to keep track of and watch Apple TV+ content on the web. The Up Next queue is a new addition to the Apple TV+ website, introduced earlier this week, according to 9to5Mac. Prior to now, the Apple TV+ website had an option for adding a show to the Up Next queue, but the Up Next queue did not...
icloud private relay ios 15

Apple Says iOS 15.2 Included No Changes That Would Have Toggled iCloud Private Relay Off

Wednesday January 12, 2022 2:23 pm PST by
iOS 15.2 did not introduce a bug that turned iCloud Private Relay off for some users, Apple said in a statement that was provided to MacRumors. The statement was in response to a T-Mobile claim that iOS 15.2 had automatically toggled the iCloud Private Relay feature off for some users. iCloud Private Relay is an innovative internet privacy service that allows users with an iCloud+ subscription ...
icloud private relay change ios 15 3

Apple Clarifies iCloud Private Relay Wording in iOS 15.3 to Prevent Confusion Over Carrier Support

Wednesday January 12, 2022 11:41 am PST by
In today's iOS 15.3 beta, Apple has updated the wording that people see when iCloud Private Relay is disabled for a cellular or WiFi network, clarifying that when it's off, it's not always because of a lack of carrier support. The new message says that Private Relay is turned off, but it explains that either a cellular plan does not support it or that it has been deactivated in Cellular...
iCloud General Feature

UK Network Operators Target iCloud Private Relay in Complaint to Regulator

Sunday March 13, 2022 3:48 am PDT by
A group of UK network operators have formally urged the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to regulate iCloud Private Relay, claiming that Apple's privacy service is anti-competitive, potentially bad for users, and a threat to national security. In its response to the CMA's Interim Report on mobile ecosystems, Mobile UK, a trade association of British mobile network operators,...
webkit vs chromium feature

Should Apple Continue to Ban Rival Browser Engines on iOS?

Friday February 25, 2022 7:39 am PST by
Apple requires all apps that browse the web in iOS and iPadOS to use its own browser engine, WebKit, but amid accusations of anti-competitive conduct, should it continue to effectively ban rival browser engines? Big tech has been gripped by accusations of anti-competitive conduct in recent times, with Chief Executive of the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Andrea Coscelli...
craig wwdc 2021 privacy

Report Highlights How Top Apple Executives Disagreed Over How Far iOS Anti-Tracking Measures Should Go

Monday March 14, 2022 7:19 am PDT by
A new report has highlighted how three top prominent executives initially found themselves at odds in early deliberations about Apple's App Tracking Transparency framework. According to the report from The Information, the executives who disagreed over how far Apple should go in protecting user privacy in digital advertising included Apple's Craig Federighi, who oversees software...
safari icon blue banner

Apple Prepares Fix for Safari Bug Allowing Websites to Decipher Your Recent Browsing Activity

Tuesday January 18, 2022 6:28 pm PST by
Over the weekend, we reported on a bug in WebKit's implementation of a JavaScript API called IndexedDB that can reveal your recent browsing history and even your identity, according to browser fingerprinting service FingerprintJS. Apple has since prepared a fix for the bug, according to a WebKit commit on GitHub, but the fix will not be available to users until Apple releases macOS Monterey, ...

Popular Stories

apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
anker 563 dock ports

Anker's Latest USB-C Docking Station Brings Triple-Display Support to M1 Macs

Wednesday May 18, 2022 7:06 am PDT by
While Apple's early M1-based Macs can only officially support a single external display, there are ways around the limitation. Anker is launching a new 10-in-1 USB-C docking station today which delivers just that. The Anker 563 USB-C dock includes two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort port, and it leverages DisplayLink to carry multiple video signals over a single connection. Given that this hub...
apple data auction iphone privacy ad

Apple Highlights iPhone's Latest Privacy Features in New 'Data Auction' Ad

Wednesday May 18, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
Apple today shared a new ad highlighting iPhone privacy features like App Tracking Transparency and Mail Privacy Protection that are designed to give users more transparency and control when it comes to their personal data being collected. The ad revolves around a young woman named Ellie who discovers that her personal data is being sold at an auction house, with bids being placed on her...
Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple's AR/VR Headset Nearing Completion as Board Gets Demo

Thursday May 19, 2022 9:52 am PDT by
Apple last week demonstrated its upcoming AR/VR headset to Apple board members, indicating that the device is in an advanced stage of development and could see a debut in the not too distant future, reports Bloomberg. Apple has also ramped up development of the software that runs on the headset, with that software expected to be called "RealityOS," or rOS for short. Render via designer Ian ...