The HTTP Referrer Value
Navigating from one webpage to another or requesting a sub-resource within a webpage causes a web browser to send the top-level URL in the HTTP referrer field. Inspecting that HTTP header field on the receiving end allows sites to identify where the request originated which enables sites to log referrer data for operational and statistical purposes. As one can imagine, the top-level URL quite often includes user sensitive information which then might leak through the referrer value impacting an end users privacy.
The Referrer Policy
To compensate, the HTTP Referrer Policy allows webpages to gain more control over referrer values on their site. E.g. using a Referrer Policy of “origin” instructs the web browser to strip any path information and only fill the HTTP referrer value field with the origin of the requesting webpage instead of the entire URL. More aggressively, a Referrer Policy of ‘no-referrer’ advises the browser to suppress the referrer value entirely. Ultimately the Referrer Policy empowers the website author to gain more control over the used referrer value and hence provides a tool for website authors to respect an end users privacy.
Expanding the Referrer Policy to CSS
While Firefox has been supporting Referrer Policy since Firefox 50 we are happy to announce that Firefox will expand policy coverage and will support Referrer Policy within style sheets starting in Firefox 64. With that update in coverage, requests originating from within style sheets will also respect a site’s Referrer Policy and ultimately contribute a cornerstone to a more privacy respecting internet.
For the Mozilla Security and Privacy Team,
Christoph Kerschbaumer & Thomas Nguyen