No one likes being followed, whether in person or online. But some companies make a point of following people, just so that they can work out their habits and interests and make the best advertising pitch to them. It happens all the time on the internet. By keeping tabs on where you surf, advertisers can personalize ads for each user, and increase the chances of you clicking on their product. Sometimes, the results are strange. Atheist websites are often inundated with ads for Scientology or Christian singles, for example. But the fact is that advertisers are getting better, and the result is more comprehensive dossiers on just about anyone who goes online.

Mozilla aims to change this. The makers of Firefox are looking into a new version of their popular browser that will help users surf the net anonymously. The news comes just as a Subcommittee of the House of Representatives prepares to hold a hearing about “Do not track” proposals. After all, what Senator or Congressman wants their personal proclivities filed for posterity by unscrupulous advertising firms?

Mike Shaver, Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla, says, “Our goal is to put the user in control but not overwhelm them.” Just this year Mozilla scrapped plans to enhance the privacy settings on its browser. With Congress now stepping in to discuss the problem, perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come.
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