Mozilla Corp. plans to add a do-not-track feature to its Firefox Web browser, which could let users avoid having their actions monitored online.

The announcement makes Firefox the first Web browser to heed the Federal Trade Commission’s call for the development of a do-not-track system. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Mozilla was exploring the development of such a system.

For Firefox’s tool to work, however, tracking companies would need to agree to not monitor users who enable the do-not-track feature. So far, no companies have publicly agreed to participate in the system, but Mozilla urged them to join in.

“Mozilla recognizes the chicken and egg problem,” the company’s newly appointed global privacy and public-policy leader, Alexander Fowler, wrote in a blog post. But, he wrote, Mozilla is asking that websites and advertisers join its efforts to “honor people’s privacy choices.”

Mozilla’s move comes amid growing privacy concerns about the online-tracking industry. Last month, the FTC called for the creation of a do-not-track system and the Obama administration called for an online “privacy bill of rights” focused on the commercial data-gathering industry. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said they will examine online-privacy issues this year.

As gatekeepers to the Internet, the Web-browsing-software makers are in the best position to block unwanted tracking. However, the biggest Web-browser makers—Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.—also operate online advertising businesses that use online-tracking tools. Firefox doesn’t run an ad business but receives the bulk of its funding from an advertising arrangement with Google.

Until recently, the competition between the big three Web browsers focused more on speed and technical features than on privacy tools.

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