Mozilla Proposes prefer HTTP Header To Bring Parental Control To Web

Mozilla today announced a new mechanism to make web browsing more family-friendly. In association with Microsoft and few other organizations, Mozilla has proposed a new HTTP Header, prefer: safe, to be send with each web request, which would tell websites about users’ preference to browse in ‘safe mode’. Websites respecting this preference would serve content accordingly by filtering out unsuitable material for children.

The great thing about this proposal is that the supported browsers would automatically enable this preference if parental control is enabled on the operating system level (Windows and Mac). Hence, there would be no option to enable or disable this preference in the browser itself.

prefer-safe-http-header

Microsoft has already implemented this feature for the Internet Explorer 11 and 10 users. Moreover, a draft specification has been submitted to the IETF for review, and we may see it as an industry standard soon.

In past, Mozilla devs had proposed another similar technology, Do-Not-Track, to hint websites that the user wants to opt-out of the online behavioral advertising (OBA). Unfortunately, it couldn’t get wider industry acceptance.

Chrome Support?

Google is yet to announce support for prefer HTTP header in Chrome browser, may be because it is too early to implement it.

We have created a small extension to bring prefer: safe HTTP header support in Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers. As, there is no way to detect operating system level parental control settings in Chrome through extension APIs, our extension sends prefer HTTP header with every web request irrespective of operating system level settings. Just to remind you here, according to the above proposal by Mozilla, browsers would send prefer HTTP header only if the parental control is enabled on the operating system level. You can download and install our this extension from GitHub.

To test your prefer HTTP header setting, visit this page which detects and confirms it along with several other browser/network preferences like User-Agent string, Do-Not-Track setting, HTML5 Geo-location and public IP address. Alternatively, you can check your outgoing HTTP headers using Chrome’s Dev Tools as shown in the screenshot below.

http-header-chrome-dev-tools

The prefer HTTP header is currently an experimental project, and websites are yet to support it. If you are looking for an effective Parental Control feature for Chrome browser and Chromebooks, check out the Supervised Users feature.

arpit

Posted by Arpit Gupta

Arpit maintains several browser-based tools including many popular extensions. Follow him on Twitter, or email at editor@browsernative.com.
Article published on July 22, 2014, Last updated on .

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1 Response

  1. Larie says:

    Thanks for your post and open source extension, but I don’t think it is going to be accepted by the industry.

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