Microsoft Enhances Tracking Prevention in Microsoft Edge 79

Microsoft Enhances Tracking Prevention in Microsoft Edge 79

Microsoft Enhances Tracking Prevention in Microsoft Edge 79

Microsoft announced a series of tracking prevention improvements that rolled out with the release of Microsoft Edge 79, enhancements that should provide a balance between web compatibility and blocking more types of trackers.

“We wanted to build off our initial implementation of tracking prevention in Microsoft Edge 78 and maximize the protections we offered by default by exploring blocking other categories of trackers (such as those in the Content category) in Balanced mode,” the Microsoft Edge Team says.

“These changes resulted in Microsoft Edge 79 blocking ~25% more trackers than Microsoft Edge 78,” with the tracking prevention engine being powered by protection lists provided by Disconnect.

Tracking prevention was first introduced as an experimental preview to Microsoft Edge preview builds in June and it was later enabled by default in September with the first update released to the Microsoft Edge Beta channel.

The feature is set on a ‘Balanced’ level of privacy by default and it automatically blocks known malicious and some third-party trackers providing a user experience that balances web compatibility and user privacy.

Changes to tracking prevention in Edge 79

The Microsoft Edge Team shared a detailed table that shows all the changes made to the tracking prevention engine based on the profile chosen (Basic, Balanced, or Strict) and the category of tracker that should be blocked.

Tracking prevention changes (Image: Microsoft) – click to zoom
Tracking prevention changes
• Along the top are the categories of trackers as defined by Disconnect’s tracking protection list categories.
• Along the left side are comparisons of the improvements made to our tracking prevention feature broken down into Basic, Balanced, and Strict.
• The letter “S” in a cell denotes that storage access is blocked.
• The letter “B” in a cell denotes that both storage access and resource loads (i.e. network requests) are blocked.
• A “-“ in a cell denotes that no block will be applied to either storage access or resource loads.
• The “Same-Org Mitigation” refers to the first mitigation that we introduced in our previous blog post and recapped above.
• The “Org Engagement Mitigation” refers to the second mitigation based on site engagement that we introduced earlier in this post.

Tracking prevention to be disabled in some cases

To avoid breaking web workflows like embedded social media content and federated login, Redmond’s developers use an approach designed to relax tracking prevention for sites frequently visited and browsed by the user.

Based on a new type of mitigation combining both site engagement scores calculated based on how active the user is on a specific site and a new concept dubbed “organizations” representing the company behind multiple sites sharing the same owner, Microsoft Edge will temporarily disable tracking prevention on domains featuring an ongoing and established relationship.

“If content does get unblocked due to you interacting with a site, it is always unblocked in a temporary manner that is proportional to how highly engaged you are with that site/its parent organization,” Microsoft said.

“By combining these exemptions with more strict blocking of trackers by default, we can provide higher levels of protection while still maintaining compatibility on the ever-evolving set of sites that you engage with.”

However, Microsoft adds that even for sites frequently visited, tracking prevention will stay enabled if they are listed in the on Disconnect’s tracking protection lists in the Fingerprinting or Cryptomining categories.

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