A few days ago the release of Firefox 93Which comes with a major change in the address bar, which in fact, is controversial if we consider that the browser is basically oriented to privacy and confidentiality.
And it is that Firefox now sends keyboard input data to Mozilla servers, with which he argues that it is the means by which the organization obtains funding from advertising partners.
Faced with this controversy around Firefox Suggest about what Mozilla explains:
“This is a new feature that shows direct links to web content based on what users type in the Firefox address bar. Some of the content that appears in these tips is provided by partners and some of the content is sponsored. Therefore, the fears related to privacy violations are obvious.
However, Mozilla ensures that:
“In creating Firefox Suggest, we followed our long-standing data privacy principles and practices. In practice, this means that we take care to limit what we collect and limit what we transmit to our partners. The behavior of the function is simple: the suggestions appear as you type and are directly related to what you type. We take the security of the data sets required to provide this functionality very seriously. We have multi-level security practices and controls in place, and we strive to make as much of our work as possible publicly verifiable. «
Eg Firefox Suggest submits search terms and information about using Firefox Suggest to Mozilla. Some can be shared with partners to provide and improve suggested content.
When a user clicks on a suggestion, Mozilla receives a notification that the suggested links have been clicked. Additionally, Mozilla collects location data at the city level in conjunction with searches to properly serve location-sensitive queries.
“Mozilla approaches managing this data conservatively. We take care of removing the data from our systems as soon as it is no longer needed. When we transmit data to our partners, we take care to provide them only the minimum information necessary for the performance of the function.
The Sponsored Tiles test was also controversial, as the idea of positioning (in concert with advertising partners) on the Firefox home page (or when opening a new tab) sponsored tiles for Firefox users. The goal: get paid when users click on them.
“When you click on a sponsored tile, Firefox sends anonymous technical data to our partner through a proxy service owned by Mozilla. They do not include any personally identifiable information and are only shared when you click on one of the sponsored tiles, ”Mozilla explained.
This is the perennial financing problem that Mozilla he has solved most of the time by means contrary to his values. In fact, at the end of the first month of 2018, the foundation announced its intention to start showing sponsored content in Firefox, a repeat of the 2014 approach, to diversify its sources of income.
Mozilla eventually proceeded to the implementation of sponsored tiles within Firefox 60 to achieve this goal. But the advertising push ended up sending a confusing message to users as Firefox is recognized as a privacy-oriented browser and Mozilla as one of the biggest advocates of blocking ad extensions.
Therefore, the foundation abandoned its project but without definitively closing the door to advertising in Firefox. The foundation was only able to develop a winning strategy (from its point of view) with the acquisition, in 2017, of Pocket, a tool that allows you to save content online for later reference. The least controversial source of funding to date is the addition of additional payment services to the basic browser: cloud storage, VPN, etc.