“Facebook and other companies routinely track your online surfing habits to better target ads at you,” Anick Jesdanun reports for The Associated Press. “Two web browsers now want to help you fight back in what’s becoming an escalating privacy arms race.”

“New protections in Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers aim to prevent companies from turning ‘cookie’ data files used to store sign-in details and preferences into broader trackers that take note of what you read, watch and research on other sites,” Jesdanun reports. “Lance Cottrell, creator of the privacy service Anonymizer, said Apple’s effort was particularly significant, as it takes aim at a technique developed by tracking companies to override users’ attempts to delete their cookies.”

“To get the protections, you’ll have to break your habit of using Google’s Chrome browser, which by some estimates has more than half of the worldwide browser usage,” Jesdanun reports. “Safari and Firefox have less than 20 percent combined.”

“Safari makes these protections automatic in updates coming Tuesday to iPhones and iPads and a week later to Mac computers. Firefox has similar protections on Apple mobile devices and is rolling out them out to personal computers in the coming months,” Jesdanun reports. “Safari and Firefox can’t entirely stop tracking. For starters, they won’t block tracking when you’re using Facebook or Google itself. Nor can they help much when you use phone or tablet apps, unless the app happens to embed Safari, as Twitter’s iPhone app does.”

“Safari is also attacking a technique developed to circumvent cookie deletions. Through ‘fingerprinting,’ a company can identify you through your computer’s characteristics, such as browser type and fonts installed. Your new cookie can then be tied to your old profile. Safari will now limit the technical details it sends,” Jesdanun reports. “None of the Firefox tools, though, address fingerprinting.”

“Apple and Mozilla are able to push the boundaries on privacy because neither depends on advertising,” Jesdanun reports. “Google makes most of its money from selling ads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And now you know why Google pushed their Chrome browser (and Android, Google Maps, Gmail, etc.) so hard.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Ladd” for the heads up.]