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A Perspective: Firefox Quantum’s Tracking Protection Gives Users The Right To Be Curious

wo, 14/02/2018 - 18:00

In the physical world, we don’t wear our ID on our foreheads. This is convenient because we can walk around with a reasonable expectation of privacy and let our curiosity take us to interesting places. That shoe store you sauntered into because they had a pair that caught your eye has no idea who you are, where you live, or anything about you. More importantly, any attempt by that shoe store to have an employee follow you around would not only be impractical, but would be met with some serious side-eye from potential customers.

In the digital world, this isn’t true. Useful web technologies that make the sites you visit convenient and powerful can also be co-opted to track you wherever you go. The same incredible economies of scale that allow billions of people worldwide to stay connected also allow for the implementation of inexpensive and powerful methods of tracking. The profits from the sale of one pair of shoes allows the online shoe store to track thousands of people in the hopes of turning them into customers.

You would notice a beleaguered shoe store employee following you around, but you’re unlikely to notice most forms of online tracking. We’ve all had the experience where ads magically seem to follow you around, in a practice known as ‘retargeting’, and it’s often unnerving for users. However, the reality is that online tracking is mostly invisible. What’s more is that it’s used to create a profile that ties together as much data as possible in a practice called “cookie syncing” in an effort to predict your habits and preferences, in the hopes that the ads and recommendations you get are more likely to trigger your behavior in a desirable way.

Sometimes, information about you can be helpful. For instance, finding out what the most popular accessories are for your new phone can help you make better decisions about what to buy. Of greater concern is the lack of consent. In the real world, we generally look before we leap, but on the Internet, there’s no way to ‘preview’ the tracking of a site before you click a link. Often without your knowledge, information about you and your visit is compiled into an online profile that can be shared and sold to others without your knowledge.

What’s true for shoes also applies to ideas. Another often overlooked inconvenience is how tracking impacts people’s ability to explore new areas of the web. Against the backdrop of growing online bubbles and polarized media, if all the content you get recommendations for is in the same line of thought, how much are you able to explore what’s across the political line?

With 40% of US internet users saying they have recently used ad blockers, people clearly have an intuitive understanding that trackers and ads can be annoying, but do ad blockers do what they want?

Many in the tech world have been looking into this. When the companies providing the ad blocker are also the world’s biggest advertising networks, will it truly give you the tools to be inconspicuously curious?

Google Chrome’s approach is focused on annoying ads. Its ad blocker blocks ads, but it does nothing against invisible trackers or tracking ads that comply with the standards of the Better Ads Coalition, in which Facebook and Google are key partners. Even Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Protection has a set of rules that favor trackers operated by sites that users visit at least once a day. Unsurprisingly, Google and Facebook are the sites most likely to fall into this category.

If you’re not using Firefox Quantum today and care about your privacy, I encourage you to give Firefox Quantum a try. With Tracking Protection turned on, you’ll get a web that lets you browse freely with fewer worries about pesky trackers, built by an independent organization that doesn’t run an ad network.

The post A Perspective: Firefox Quantum’s Tracking Protection Gives Users The Right To Be Curious appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Update: Mozilla Will Re-File Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

ma, 12/02/2018 - 22:49

Protecting net neutrality is core to the internet and crucial for people’s jobs and everyday lives. It is imperative that all internet traffic be treated equally, without discrimination against content or type of traffic — that’s the how the internet was built and what has made it one of the greatest inventions of all time.

What happened?

Last month, Mozilla filed a petition against the Federal Communications Commission for its disappointing decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order because we believe it violates federal law and harms internet users and innovators.

We said that we believed the filing date should be later (while the timing seemed clear in the December 2017 draft order from the FCC, federal law is more ambiguous). We urged the FCC to determine the later date was appropriate, but we filed on January 16 because we are not taking any chances with an issue of this importance.

On Friday, the FCC filed to dismiss this suit and require us to refile after the order has been published in the Federal Register, as we had anticipated.

What’s next?

We will always fight to protect the open internet and will continue to challenge the FCC’s decision to destroy net neutrality in the courts, in Congress, and with our allies and internet users.

The FCC’s decision to destroy net neutrality rules is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. It will end the internet as we know it, harm internet users and small businesses, erode free speech, competition, innovation and user choice in the process. In fact, it really only benefits large Internet Service Providers.

We will re-file our suit against the FCC at the appropriate time (10 days after the order is published in the Federal Register).

What can you do?

You can call your elected officials and urge them to support net neutrality and an open internet. Net neutrality is not a partisan or U.S. issue and the decision to remove protections for net neutrality is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. We need politicians to decide to protect users and innovation online rather than increase the power of a few large ISPs.

The post Update: Mozilla Will Re-File Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

An Open Letter to Justice Srikrishna About Data Privacy and Aadhaar

vr, 09/02/2018 - 15:34

Note: This open letter, penned by Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker, appears as a full-page advertisement in the February 9 edition of The Hindustan Times. It is co-signed by 1,447 Mozilla India community members. To learn more about Mozilla work regarding India’s data protection law and Aadhaar, visit

Dear Justice Srikrishna and the Honourable Members of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Committee of Experts,

With the support of and in solidarity with members of Mozilla’s community in India, I write today to urge you to stand up for the privacy and security of all Indians. Your recent consultation on the form of India’s first comprehensive data protection law comes at an auspicious time. The Supreme Court of India has ruled unequivocally that privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed to all Indians by the Indian Constitution. We ask that you take that decision and ensure that right is made a reality in law.

Mozilla’s work on upholding privacy is guided by the Mozilla Manifesto, which states: “Individual security and privacy is fundamental and must not be treated as optional online” (Principle 4). Our commitment to the principle can be seen both in the open source code of our products as well as in our policies such as Mozilla’s Data Privacy Principles. The Mozilla India Community has run numerous campaigns to educate Indians on how to protect themselves online.

Data protection is a critical tool for guaranteeing fundamental rights of privacy. It is particular important today as Aadhaar is being driven deeper into all aspects of life. Digital identity can bring many benefits, but it can also become a surveillance and privacy disaster. A strong data protection law is key to avoiding disaster.

In the digital age, especially in regards to the Aadhaar, individual security and privacy is increasingly being put at risk. Recently, a private citizen was able to buy access to all of the demographic data in the Aadhaar database for just 500 rupees. There have been countless leaks, security incidents, and instances where private Aadhaar data has been published online. Private companies are increasingly requiring Aadhaar in order to use their services. In the vacuum created by India’s lack of a comprehensive data protection law, the Government of India continues its relentless push to make Aadhaar mandatory for ever more government programs and private sector services, in contravention of the directives of the Supreme Court.

We commend you for the strong recommendations and overall framework proposed in your report. While this represents important progress in developing a strong data protection framework, we remain concerned about several missing protections:

  • The current proposal exempts biometric info from the definition of sensitive personal information that must be especially protected. This is backwards, biometric info is some of the most personal info, and can’t be “reset’ like a password.
  • The design of Aadhaar fails to provide meaningful consent to users. This is seen, for example, by the ever increasing number of public and private services that are linked to Aadhaar without users being given a meaningful choice in the matter. This can and should be remedied by stronger consent, data minimization, collection limitation, and purpose limitation obligations.
  • Instead of crafting narrow exemptions for the legitimate needs of law enforcement, you propose to exempt entire agencies from accountability and legal restrictions on how user data may be accessed and processed.
  • Your report also casts doubt on whether individuals should be allowed a right to object over how their data is processed; this is a core pillar of data protection, without a right to object, consent is not meaningful and individual liberty is curtailed.

There is resounding support for privacy in India, and the Supreme Court has made clear that the protection of individual privacy and security is an imperative for the Government of India. We hope you and your colleagues in the Government of India will take this opportunity to develop a data protection law that strongly protects the rights of users and makes India’s framework a model for the world.


Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla

The Hindustan Times advertisement:


The post An Open Letter to Justice Srikrishna About Data Privacy and Aadhaar appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Announcing the Reality Redrawn Challenge Winners!

wo, 07/02/2018 - 17:01

I’m delighted to announce the winners of Mozilla’s Reality Redrawn Challenge after my fellow judges and I received entries from around the globe. Since we issued the challenge just two months ago we have been astonished by the quality and imagination behind proposals that use mixed reality and other media to make the power of misinformation and its potential impacts visible and visceral.

If you have tried to imagine the impact of fake news – even what it smells like – when it touches your world, I hope you will come to experience the Reality Redrawn exhibit at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Our opening night runs from 6-9pm on May 17th and free tickets are available here. Keep an eye on Twitter @mozilla with the hashtag #RealityRedrawn for more details in the coming weeks. After opening night you can experience the exhibit in normal daily museum hours for a limited engagement of two weeks, 10am-5pm. We will be looking to bring the winning entries to life also for those who are not in the Bay Area.

The winner of our grand prize of $15,000 is Yosun Chang from San Francisco with Bubble Chaos. Yosun has won many competitions including the Salesforce Dreamforce 2011 Hackathon, Microsoft Build 2016 Hackathon and TechCrunch Disrupt 2016 Hackathon. She will use augmented reality and virtual reality to create an experience that allows the user to interact with misinformation in a creative new way.

Yosun says of her entry: “We iPhoneX face track a user’s face to puppeteer their avatar, then bot and VR crowdsource lipreading that avatar to form political sides. This powers the visuals of a global macroscopic view showing thousands of nodes transmitting to create misinformation. We present also the visceral version where the user can try to “echo” their scented-colored bubble in a “bubble chamber” to make the room smell like their scent with multiple pivoting SensaBubble machines.”

Our second prize joint semi-finalist is Stu Campbell (aka Sutu) from Roeburne in Western Australia. Sutu will receive $7,500 to complete the creation of his entry FAKING NEWS. He is known for ‘Nawlz’, a 24 episode interactive cyberpunk comic book series created for web and iPad. In 2016 he was commissioned by Marvel and Google to create Tilt Brush Virtual Reality paintings. He was also the feature subject of the 2014 documentary, ‘Cyber Dreaming’.

As Sutu explains: “The front page of a newspaper will be reprinted in a large format and mounted to the museum wall. Visitors will also find physical copies of the paper in the museum space. Visitors will be encouraged to download our EyeJack Augmented Reality app and then hold their devices over the paper to see the story augment in real time. Small fake news bots will animate across the page, rearranging and deleting words and inserting news words and images. The audience then has the option to share the new augmented news to their own social media channels, thus perpetuating its reach.”

Mario Ezekiel Hernandez from Austin also receives $7,500 to complete his entry: Where You Stand. Mario graduated from Texas State University in 2017 with a degree in Applied Mathematics. He currently works as a data analyst and is a member of the interactive media arts collective, vûrv.

Mario’s entry uses TouchDesigner, Python, R, OpenCV, web cameras, projectors, and a mac mini. Mario says of his entry: “Our solution seeks to shine a light on the voices of policymakers and allow participants to freely explore the content that is being promoted by their legislative representatives. The piece dynamically reacts to actor locations. As they move along the length of the piece tweets from each legislator are revealed and hidden. To highlight the polarization we group the legislators by party alignment so that the most partisan legislators are located at the far ends of the piece. As participants move away from the middle in either direction, they will see more tweets from increasingly partisan legislators.”

Emily Saltz is a UX Designer from Bloomberg LP and will be traveling from New York with her entry Filter Bubble Roulette, after receiving prize money of $5,000. Previously she was UX and Content Strategist at Pop Up Archive, an automatic speech recognition service and API acquired by Apple.

Emily says of her entry: “This social webVR platform plays into each user’s curiosity to peek into other social media filter bubbles, using content pulled from social media as conversational probes. It will enable immersive connection people across diverse social and political networks. The project is based on the hypotheses that 1) users are curious to peek into the social media universes of others, 2) it’s harder to be a troll when you’re immersed in someone else’s 3D space, and 3) viewing another person’s filter bubble in context of their other interests will enable more reflection and empathy between groups.”

Rahul Bhargava is a researcher and technologist specializing in civic technology and data literacy at the MIT Center for Civic Media. There he leads technical development on projects ranging from interfaces for quantitative news analysis, to platforms for crowd-sourced sensing. Based in Boston, he also won $5,000 to create his entry Gobo: understanding social media algorithms.

Rahul says of his entry: “The public lacks a basic understanding of the algorithm-driven nature of most online platforms. In parallel, technology companies generally place blind trust in algorithms as “neutral” actors in content promotion. Our idea tackles this perfect storm with a card-driven interactive piece, where social media content is scored with a variety of algorithms and prompts to discuss how those can drive content filtering and promotion. Visitors are engaged to use these scores as inputs to construct their own meta-algorithm, deciding whether things like “gender” detection, “rudeness” ranking, or “sentiment” analysis would drive which content they want to see.”

The Reality Redrawn Challenge is part of the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative announced last year to build a movement to fight misinformation online. The initiative aims to stimulate work towards this goal on products, research, literacy and creative interventions.

The post Announcing the Reality Redrawn Challenge Winners! appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Announcing “Project Things” – An open framework for connecting your devices to the web.

di, 06/02/2018 - 18:06

Last year, we said that Mozilla is working to create a framework of software and services that can bridge the communication gap between connected devices. Today, we are pleased to announce that anyone can now build their own Things Gateway to control their connected device directly from the web.

We kicked off “Project Things”, with the goal of building a decentralized ‘Internet of Things’ that is focused on security, privacy, and interoperability. Since our announcement last year, we have continued to engage in open and collaborative development with a community of makers, testers, contributors, and end-users, to build the foundation for this future.

Today’s launch makes it easy for anyone with a Raspberry Pi to build their own Things Gateway. In addition to web-based commands and controls, a new experimental feature shows off the power and ease of using voice-based commands. We believe this is the most natural way for users to interact with their smart home. Getting started is easy, and we recommend checking out this tutorial to get connected.

The Future of Connected Devices

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become more popular over the last few years, but there is no single standard for how these devices should talk to each other. Each vendor typically creates a custom application that only works with their own brand. If the future of connected IoT devices continues to involve proprietary solutions, then costs will stay high, while the market remains fragmented and slow to grow. Consumers should not be locked into a specific product, brand, or platform. This will only lead to paying premium prices for something as simple as a “smart light bulb”.

We believe the future of connected devices should be more like the open web. The future should be decentralized, and should put the power and control into the hands of the people who use those devices. This is why we are committed to defining open standards and frameworks.

A Private “Internet of Things”

Anyone can build a Things Gateway using popular devices such as the Raspberry Pi. Once it is set up, it will guide you through the process of connecting to your network and adding your devices. The setup process will provide you with a secure URL that can be used to access and control your connected devices from anywhere.

Powerful New Features

Our latest release of the Things Gateway has several new features available. These features include:

  • The ability to use the microphone on your computer to issue voice commands
  • A rules engine for setting ‘If this, then that’ logic for how devices interact with each other
  • A floor-plan view to lay out devices on a map of your home
  • Additional device type support, such as smart plugs, dimmable and colored lights, multi-level switches and sensors, and “virtual” versions of them, in case you don’t have a real device
  • An all-new add-on system for supporting new protocols and devices
  • A new system for safely authorizing third-party applications (using OAuth)
Built for hackers everyone

If you have been following our progress with Project Things, you’ll know that up to now, it was only really accessible to those with a good amount of technical knowledge. With today’s release, we have made it easy for anyone to get started on building their own Things Gateway to control their devices. We take care of the complicated stuff so that you can focus on the fun stuff such as automation, ‘if this, then that’ rules, adding a greater variety of devices, and more.

Getting Started

We have provided a full walkthrough of how to get started on building your own private smart home using a Raspberry Pi. You can view the complete walkthrough here.

If you have questions, or you would like to get involved with this project you can join the #iot channel on and participate in the development on GitHub. You can also follow @MozillaIoT on twitter for the latest news.

For more information, please visit

The post Announcing “Project Things” – An open framework for connecting your devices to the web. appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet