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If you reg­u­larly vis­ited the web­site of a med­i­cal com­pany, would you be happy if it passed your per­sonal de­tails on to the next site you went to? That’s the kind of in­tru­sion Mozilla says will no longer hap­pen in Fire­fox when you use its pri­vate brows­ing mode.

As you browse the in­ter­net, web­sites – as well as the ad­verts and so­cial­me­dia but­tons they fea­ture – can see which web page you came from. This is called your ‘re­fer­rer value’. Sites find this use­ful for mon­i­tor­ing their web traf­fic, and there’s noth­ing wrong with that. But some ad­verts and so­cial-me­dia sites use this to gather data about you.

For ex­am­ple, rights cam­paign­ers at the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion found that www.health­care.gov (a US Gov­ern­ment health-in­sur­ance ex­change site) passed on info on vis­i­tors’ age, ad­dress, in­come, and whether they smoked. It’s the kind of data ad­ver­tis­ers love.

The lat­est ver­sion of Fire­fox will re­move this per­sonal data, known as ‘path in­for­ma­tion’, when you browse pri­vately. To ac­cess pri­vate mode, click the top-right menu but­ton (three hor­i­zon­tal lines) then New Pri­vate Win­dow (see screen­shot).

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