Firefox 2 releases privacy storm
by Brian Turner
The much anticipated Firefox 2.0 was launched by the Mozilla Foundation yesterday – and immediately generated a storm of protests over privacy issues.
Key to privacy concerns is that Mozilla have set up their long-awaited phishing protection feature on Firefox 2.0 – but to use it properly, you have to send Google a record of every single website you visit.
A cookie will record all your behaviour data when using Firefox and provide the information free to Google, who can then use that information for their own commercial purposes.
Although, the feature does require an explicit opt-in, it’s an unwelcome trade-off for many Firefox users, who believe that there is no reason to tie-in phishing protection with providing free data to a billion-dollar multinational.
The concerns may be damaging to the Mozilla Foundation – who have long had a close relationship with Google – and who became a “for-profit” business last year.
The provision of free tools and services simply for the purposes of collecting user data has become a habit with Google in recent years, and especially raised privacy concerns – not simply on the data collection, or how it may be used – but also how it may be collected by government agencies.
However, the overall situation is that Google are probably not actually doing anything in terms of data collection and retention than many other major Internet Service Providers are already doing.
Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL, Amazon, and telecoms companies already store and retain vast amounts of private and often personally identifiable data, via their own service provisions, which are then used for commercial purposes.
The simple truth is that online privacy is already a mess, and that internet users are simply are often not allowed to determine how their personal data may be collected, used, or processed.
While privacy issues online have yet to reach a Tipping Point, it’s clear that the latest collaboration with Google by Mozilla, may be seen to be a million-dollar company selling out its users for profit.
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