December 3, 2023

Mozilla has just released Firefox 93 and there is a big and controversial change to the address bar. Not content with making helpful suggestions from your browsing history as you type, Firefox Suggest now also includes “relevant suggestions” and “sponsored suggestions” from “trusted partners”; in other words, ads.

There are privacy concerns associated with making these suggestions. Mozilla may insist that it only deal with partners that meet its privacy standards for Firefox, but it still means that whatever is typed into the address bar is sent back to Mozilla and processed in order to deliver ads it hopes you will click on. The good news is that you can disable Firefox Suggest and hide ads in Firefox.

Mozilla must be aware that stuffing ads into its browser would prove controversial, but the company justifies the addition by saying that it “helps fund Firefox development and optimization”.

Mozilla collects the following information to power Firefox Suggest when users have opted in to contextual suggestions.

  • Search queries and suggest impressions: Firefox Suggest sends Mozilla search terms and information about engagement with Firefox Suggest, some of which may be shared with partners to provide and improve the suggested content.
  • Clicks on suggestions: When a user clicks on a suggestion, Mozilla receives notice that suggested links were clicked.
  • Location: Mozilla collects city-level location data along with searches, in order to properly serve location-sensitive queries.

Mozilla approaches handling this data conservatively. We take care to remove data from our systems as soon as it’s no longer needed. When passing data on to our partners, we are careful to only provide the partner with the minimum information required to serve the feature.

Mozila Statement

Disable Firefox suggest and hide the address bar ads:

  1. Click the hamburger menu to the upper right of Firefox and select Settings
  2. Move to the Privacy & Security section
  3. Locate the Address Bar – Firefox Suggest section and uncheck all of the boxes
  4. Just uncheck Contextual search and its child option Include occasional sponsored suggestions

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