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Mozilla Labs Experiment Distills Your History Into Interests

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,24 days | from the enjoys-long-trolls-on-the-beach dept.

Privacy 158

Barence writes "Mozilla is proposing that the Firefox browser collects data on users' interests to pass on to websites. The proposal is designed to allow websites to personalize content to visitors' tastes, without sites having to suck up a user's browsing history, as they do currently. 'Let's say Firefox recognizes within the browser client, without any browsing history leaving my computer, that I'm interested in gadgets, comedy films, hockey and cooking,' says Justin Scott, a product manager from Mozilla Labs. 'Those websites could then prioritize articles on the latest gadgets and make hockey scores more visible. And, as a user, I would have complete control over which of my interests are shared, and with which websites.'" This is the result of an extended experiment. The idea is that your history is used to generate a set of interests which you can then share voluntarily with websites, hopefully discouraging the blanket tracking advertising systems love to do now.

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interesting take. (5, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390601)

It makes sense if advertising companies were nice people, but please never turn this on by default. Most likely they will just add the info that you supply them to their trove of tracking data.

Re:interesting take. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390695)

You beat me too it.

Nothing stops them from keep tracking you the old style.
If they can, they will.
 

Re:interesting take. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390963)

Nothing stops them from keep tracking you the old style.

Not true. My browser holds no history or cookies.

Re:interesting take. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391099)

Ok, maybe I'll have to turn in my associates geek card on this one...but...I didn't know websites could access and download my browsing history off my browser???

I know about cookies, and them trying to track your web travels, but can they really suck down my entire browsing history from my browser without my knowing or authorizing?

Re:interesting take. (2)

maden (1855410) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391305)

As far as I'm aware, recent browsers don't permit sites to access the history. I know of the history.previous / history.next, but these are only permissible when using local content such as plugins, or local webapps. But now that I think of it, couldn't a website load a bunch of web URLs in a hidden frame, and then analyze said URLs's CSS properties to see if they have been visited before? If that's possible, that would be a semi-transparent way to observe where the user hangs out on the internet, I suppose.

Re:interesting take. (4, Informative)

Ghostworks (991012) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391373)

Yes, this is a more recent (on the scale of years) method: load a bunch of links, let the user's browser assign them properties based on whether they've been visited or not, then let the site's javascript read back the properties from DOM. This is in addition to more direct methods such as cookies (we know where you've been because some party we have an agreement with has been keeping a log for us), super-cookies (we know where you've been through cookie-like files from flashand other things that don't typically get cleared), and 1x1 pixel images images (we know where you've been because you've been phoning home to an image server with every page load).

Re:interesting take. (2)

maden (1855410) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391617)

It seems to be fixed in most major browers, and I can't reproduce it locally on the lastest Firefox. This blog post [mozilla.org] talks about it a bit more.

Re:interesting take. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391005)

Not true. My government says it does not look at our data packest on the internet.

BREAKING NEWS - NSA LOOKS AT ALL TRAFFIC

Oh geez....

Re:interesting take. (3, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390731)

It makes sense if advertising companies were nice people, but please never turn this on by default. Most likely they will just add the info that you supply them to their trove of tracking data.

It could work; it's not sending any data that couldn't be extracted from your history anyway (which they are largely getting now via blanket tracking) so it's not especially detrimental to the user. On the other hand it is essentially doing the data mining and summarisation that the advertisers are going to have to do on the client side ahead of time. Getting your product to do some of your compute work for you may be enough of a carrot to get advertisers to end up taking this is preference to all the raw data collected by pervasive tracking.

Re:interesting take. (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390817)

It could work; it's not sending any data that couldn't be extracted from your history anyway (which they are largely getting now via blanket tracking) so it's not especially detrimental to the user.

Well, depending on how much you are blocking cookies and trying to keep information out of the hands of advertisers and other internet douchebags, you may feel differently.

If anything, I expect Mozilla to be leading in enabling privacy ... but if they're doing this, then they're just going down a road I disagree with.

How about you develop tools to keep my information out of the hands of those 3rd parties? Instead they just seem to be looking to become yet another broker of your information.

Re:interesting take. (2, Insightful)

ComputerInsultant (722520) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391065)

The content and advertizing companies are already tracking us in ways that are frustrating and scary (https://panopticlick.eff.org/). This proposal is about making it easier for me to tell the advertizing companies what I want to see ads for. No more embarrassing ads about my fetishes when I visit amazon, firefox tells them what I want to see.

This could be a good thing.

Re:interesting take. (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391095)

This proposal is about making it easier for me to tell the advertizing companies what I want to see ads for.

I don't wish to see ads, and I block at my router and browser as many other things as possible.

You may think it's nice, but I believe this is a terrible idea -- it should be private by default and require action to make it send anything more.

The last thing I want is Mozilla deciding they're just like Google and Facebook and that my browsing history is their resource to be monetized.

Re:interesting take. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391205)

So in other words, you're being raped one way or the other, so you might as well lie back and enjoy it?

Re:interesting take. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391395)

>one in 5,430 browsers have the same fingerprint as yours.
Yeah, see. I'm not a fucking retard, so I have no script, ghostery, and adblock on my work machine. At home, I also have cookiemonster. If you're being tracked with panopticlick type stuff, it's because you're dumb enough to allow them to access that info.

If Mozilla wanted to be a leader in privacy, then they'd make Firefox return default strings for things like fonts and plugins. That way every person looked the same and those fields would yield near 0 bits of identifying info.

Re:interesting take. (3, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391275)

It could work; it's not sending any data that couldn't be extracted from your history anyway (which they are largely getting now via blanket tracking) so it's not especially detrimental to the user.

Well, depending on how much you are blocking cookies and trying to keep information out of the hands of advertisers and other internet douchebags, you may feel differently.

Mozilla has said this is something you can opt out of, so it's no worse than blocking cookies etc. (and, in fact, is probably easier).

How about you develop tools to keep my information out of the hands of those 3rd parties? Instead they just seem to be looking to become yet another broker of your information.

Looked at the right way, this is almost exactly that. Presume for a moment that it works (a big if) and advertisers take to using this instead of pervasive tracking. Now we're is a place where we have a single central point of data release to advertisers; you can turn it off; you can potentially drop in a plug in that publishes a hand-crafted/approved list of "interests" instead of mining your history for it; etc. If it works it does give more control to users over their privacy.

The reality is that information is currency these days, and people will mine for this sort of data because it is valuable. You won't have much luck just blocking everything because the incentives to find a way around whatever blocks are put in place are high. So, assuming information is going to be given, trying to give the user more control over what information is handed over seems like a good thing. I doubt this particular plan will actually work, but I expect something along these lines will happen eventually.

Re:interesting take. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390821)

How about we eliminate the ability of our browsers to track and report on everything we do? Surely you can see the profound privacy concerns that arise when the browser is the main data gathering device? The marketing/data/ad companies that already try this kind of thing are not trustworthy and will still track visitors no matter what information Mozilla sells them or what agreement not to track they sign.

We don't need to worry about a website trying to track us and selling anything and everything they can find about us (which they will do anyway even if Mozilla is selling our information to all comers)? Now we need to worry about Firefox joining the 'spy on every user' landscape?

This type of approach means that not even a plug-in, add-on or extension can stop the intrusion into each Firefox user's privacy. Even our https & private browsing sessions will now be saved and sold by Mozilla.

I guess we don't need to worry about man-in-the-middle attacks when we have mozilla-in-the-browser doing it.

Re:interesting take. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390929)

"How about we eliminate the ability of our browsers to track and report on everything we do? "

You want to eliminate the browsers ability to make network requests? What exactly would browsers then browse?

Re:interesting take. (2, Interesting)

Githaron (2462596) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391667)

Without a proxy of some sort, how are you going to prevent websites from tracking you? At the very least, web servers need a IP address to send its content to on request. There is no way for the browser to disable the web server's ability to log that data request. If they can log the data, they can share that data with third-parties in order to get a better idea of the interests of those that IP address. If you want your sessions to persist across mutiple visits/requests from that website, some sort of session id needs to be sent from your browser and then you have the same senario.

As far as I know, most tracking is done via third-party cookies and javascript scripts that log your visits directly. The best you can do in that regard is block those cookies/scripts. Of course, if such a feature was on by default, the tracking/advertising agencies would simply require that the website owners send the information via the server-side and now everyone is worse off because there is nothing you can do about it.

Combine with some tech down the road, Firefox's solution might actually help. By reporting your interests to websites though your pre-processed browser history or manual settings, you decrease the incentive of advertising agencies of spending addtional resources tracking and computing your interests. After wide adoption, Firefox can then start blocking tracking cookies and scripts by default. They could also start onion routing through other Firefox users' browsers. While advertising agencies can still go through the previously mentioned backend route, why spend the resources organizing and developing such a network if they are already getting 99% or what they want unless that 1% is at least as valuable as the resources needed to be spend developing that system? With so much obfuscation it probably isn't worth it.

Re:interesting take. (4, Insightful)

KitFox (712780) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390983)

The use of Adblock and similar to help reduce (not remove) blanket tracking combined with this means that it becomes opt in and as a "product", the user is still valuable and thus still "fed" free stuff.

I think one of the more interesting considerations is that if this takes off and more militant anti-blanket-tracking occurs, perhaps we can have more control over what the advertisers try to decide about us. For example, a ferret owner researching baby food for a sick ferret is highly unlikely to want to get flooded with a massive number of "your new baby!" ads and coupons for diapers and cribs and wipes. (True story, mind you. Owned ferrets. Researched three baby food items from Google. Within a month, I could have saved thousands from all the discounts and coupons I was offered for baby stuff. Gah.)

Quite sure it won't stop advertisers from knowing when somebody is pregnant based on them buying blue rugs and lotion [forbes.com] though.

Re:interesting take. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391353)

"The use of Adblock and similar to help reduce (not remove) blanket tracking combined with this means that it becomes opt in and as a "product", the user is still valuable and thus still "fed" free stuff."

Precisely. This returns control to the user as it's completely opt-in.

Re:interesting take. (1)

Ghostworks (991012) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391627)

This parallels the Mozilla "ping" fiasco of a few years back. In that case, someone at Mozilla labs came to the conclusion that people were always going to be tracked somehow, and all the gyrations of cookies, 1x1 pixel images and so on was just producing a lot of waste traffic. If it's going to happen anyway, why not make the tracking process as technically-efficient as possible? Thus they proposed that each site could have a meta link for a server to "ping" with minimal packets on a page load. Naturally, this would be opt-out: optional because they don't believe that they are evil, and opt-out because if it was opt-in no one would do it. Of course, users objected, the internet got angry, and it never happened.

Now we have another proposal from Mozilla for making the user privacy/advertizing money trade-off slightly more efficient, but no more palatable. In theory there might be some benefit: sites wouldn't _have_ to collect browser history the old fashioned way, and maybe if enough people don't care enough to change, the advertizing wolves will jump on them while the rest of us pass merrily on our way. In practice, that won't happen: advertiser will use tracking cookies, images, history sniffing, _and_ web interests, and people who opt out will probably get a snarky message about how any given website is not available unless you upgrade to a modern browser and enable cookies, javascript, and web interests. Traffic will not decrease. CPU cycles and storage TB will not be saved. Users will have no more, and probably less control over their privacy. And as with every new web technology, you're only as free as your neighbors want to be.

There are other applications which would be valuable: a suggestion engine for movies as Netflix uses, for music as the iTunes "genius" feature uses, for products as Amazon uses, for friend's as Facebook uses, and for Dates as way too many sites use. In fact, in terms of making the web useful, suggestion engines are probably behind only search and the sheer act of being able to fetch data from another computer. But none of those are really what's being proposed here. All of those require deeper and more specialized connections than would be available through browser history. No, this proposal is just about going out of one's way technically to help advertisers, while in the long-run probably providing a net negative to the users and the internet infrastructure.

Search and replace (2, Insightful)

chinton (151403) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390611)

s/article/ad/g

s/content/ad/g

Re:Search and replace (4, Funny)

Doug Otto (2821601) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390753)

I see what you sed there.

Re:Search and replace (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390923)

And it's a bit awk -ward. . .

Re:Search and replace (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390941)

It's all grep to me.

Re:Search and replace (4, Funny)

chinton (151403) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391017)

Stop the puns or I'll have to bash someone.

Re:Search and replace (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391041)

go fsck yourself. ;-)

(OK, I do apologize for that, meant only in jest I assure you =)

Re:Search and replace (1)

Zordak (123132) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391163)

zip it. Using that kind of language will kill the discussion.

Re:Search and replace (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391377)

In addition to zipping it, he should bzip2.

Re:Search and replace (2)

chinton (151403) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391335)

There are perls of wisdom in what I said. Stick that in your | and smoke it.

I don't want to live in a bubble (5, Insightful)

jarle.aase (1440081) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390617)

And I definitely don't want my browser to spy on me. There are already too much of that going on.

Re:I don't want to live in a bubble (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390683)

And I definitely don't want my browser to spy on me.
There are already too much of that going on.

yeah.. everyone getting a newspaper that provided just news that didn't bother them.. that would be pretty fucked up.

what's even more fucked up though is mozilla thinking this would do anything. mozilla is a browser. such interests service could be provided by say facebook for whoever is interested and mozilla could just focus on building better filters.

Re:I don't want to live in a bubble (2)

sirsky (53613) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391115)

It's obvious who came up with this idea too. It certainly wasn't one of the developers thinking it would be "a good feature to add". It was some suit in an office that had this 'great idea', ran out and said "CODE THIS"!

How 'Bout No! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390621)

How 'bout no! [youtu.be]

Why do we continue to allow these nit wits to think that we are OK with them spying on us to bolster their profits?

taint (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390629)

Drop that idea right now before you taint the firefox brand.

Perfect idea for an opt-in addon. Horrible idea to build into the browser. All any website is going to do with "interests" is add it to their data on you without even a thank you.

You know that this is a bad idea... (2)

TWX (665546) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390631)

...I mean, Avenue Q already told us what the Internet is for...

Re:You know that this is a bad idea... (1)

JanneM (7445) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390745)

Yes - but what kind, right? There are many girls with cups and other specialities you may not want to stumble upon accidentally - or particularily be on the lookout for, interests depending.

Seriously, this kind of thing would be a good step toward a system where you will have control of what to release to sites and advertisers; and where you may actually want to do so, since it benefits you along with them.

Re:You know that this is a bad idea... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390969)

Seriously, this kind of thing would be a good step toward a system where you will have control of what to release to sites and advertisers

Tell you what, build me the "nothing at all", and let absolutely everything else require a positive action from me.

The only think I want sites to see is an http request for the page, and the only thing I want advertisers to see is absolutely nothing.

This is the 'user agent' idea... (1)

TheLoneGundam (615596) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390633)

Once upon a time we were all going to have a 'user agent' that was local to our computer that performed all sorts of mediation for us, sort of an Arthur Treacher [wikipedia.org] (look it up you young whippersnappers) role; this is one instance of that idea.

time for sudo (1)

nadaou (535365) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390645)

apt-get install sensible-browser

Re:time for sudo (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390873)

error: package could not be found

A revolutionary idea (5, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390649)

I have a revolutiounary idea!

How about giving users the ability to visit different "web sitez" or what you call them, depending on their interest?

So for example, if I am interested in hockey, and live in Sweden, I could type in, say, "www.swehockey.se" in some sort of text input field in the browser.

This way, you wouldn't actually have to send any information at all to some unknown third party!

Sorry, I have nothing to show you (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390653)

Your only interest is porn.

Re:Sorry, I have nothing to show you (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391029)

Yeah, but what kind of porn? Anal? Oral? Hentai? Furry? Tentacles? Racing cars? Homes? Fridge? Milk, eggs, coffee.

Re:Sorry, I have nothing to show you (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391107)

Yeah, but what kind of porn? Fridge? Milk, eggs, coffee.

You're either very strange, or you accidentally posted your shopping list

Will this work? (1)

auric_dude (610172) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390657)

By creating several Firefox profiles and then browsing in private mode with no saving of history and and not allowing the setting of cookies be they third part or not may well be the way to go. Up to now Mozilla & Firefox were the good guys, but up to a few weeks ago so were the NSA, FBI, CIA and others.

Re:Will this work? (1)

pipatron (966506) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390737)

:D

up to a few weeks ago so were the NSA, FBI, CIA

There are few times I actually smile when I write a smiley, but this is one of them.

Re:Will this work? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390751)

but up to a few weeks ago so were the NSA, FBI, CIA and others

Not really ... they've always been organizations willing to stomp on your rights and a few laws to achieve their own ends.

This has been true for decades. The only difference is now someone has confirmed it, but nothing at all changed with Snowden's revelations.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390663)

So we should trust a browser that can save and send anything and everything about our web usage - including everything we delete and do in private browsing mode - rather than have some website try to get some of it? Can they also study the passwords we use and our bank accounts? And Firefox gets paid to do it?

Once again the end user is the product.

Just another data point (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390671)

While some companies might be willing to use this information by itself, it is almost guaranteed that others will take this information and mix this with other estimates about what a user might like.

Utilities like Ghostery almost always show more than one tracker in use on a website. This will just be yet another.

Kinda missin' the point, guys... (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390691)

The idea is that your history is used to generate a set of interests which you can then share voluntarily with websites, hopefully discouraging blanket tracking advertising systems love to do now.

You guys just really don't fucking get it, do you?

I don't want to make it easier for you to target me with ads. I don't want to share personal information with you. I don't want to give you yet another way to track me ("Oh, look, Mr. 18-25YO woodworking rugby-watching green-tea-drinking VI-using lesbian-fetishist on FireFox-17-with-Flash-11.101 has come back to the site!"). I don't want to "build a relationship" with you. I don't want to get your newsletter. I don't have the least interest in the viability of your business model outside the ad revenue you won't get from me. I will answer any obligatory signup questions with completely bogus info, though the throwaway email address I give you will at least work - Once.

I will find you through Google. I will visit the pages on your site that I searched for in the first place. If you have a site that appeals to me in general, I may casually browse around for a while (though if I visited with a specific goal, probably not). I will block ads, cookies, most scripts, and tracking bugs the whole time.

Have a nice day.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390801)

Exactly this. Why in the hell would I want to share my set of interests with other websites?

I mean, I'm a middle aged American male. I like porn, videogames, and technology. That's hardly a secret and I don't care that some people know it -- but there's something sort of gross about just handing it over to some entity so they can better monetize me. Especially when I'm just old enough to still remember a time when people did shit on the internet for the sake of doing it or even back in the BBS days when sysops would pay tons of money and spend tons of their own time building communities and services just for the sake of helping people and offering services. Money be damned.

Now, every mommy-blogger and twitter-user absolutely has to plaster ads everywhere and make two pennies off the twelve people that visit their blog every few weeks.

I'm all about capitalism and competition surfacing from the free marketplace . . . and if your service has value to me, I'll be glad to pay a little for it if you give me a the option . . . but there is just something particularly off-putting about constantly being eye-spammed and tracked (or not, even) and monetized every second you are online.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391031)

I mean, I'm a middle aged American male. I like porn, videogames, and technology. That's hardly a secret and I don't care that some people know it

Absolutely. You're an adult and it's the 21st century. You don't have to hide that you like technology. Long gone are the days when kids are beat up for this sort of thing.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391087)

And then, there's the retaliation. Someone WILL make a plug-in to hack this. Generating a random "interests" file for each new web-page accessed. Because the tracking is getting BEYOND ludicrous. At least with a randomizer, we might see something interesting from totally out of the blue. . .

As opposed to the current way of doing things. . .

Example, a pal of mine needed a new wiring harness for his tractor. Last week. He searched, found what he needed, and ordered. Interest complete. He's STILL getting targeted ads for wiring harnesses and similar parts.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391427)

Hum, depends.

Today, the biggest problem I see with ads is the fact that the vast majority of them involves lies, misinformation or even attempts to install malware. I would not block then if the ad was honest and harmless (eg something like a simple-text ad "Hey, are you looking computers right? I can get some that interests you on my site" instead of a animated flash-ad "OH NO!!! YOUR PC IS INFECTED, INSTALL ME NOW FOR FIX IT!!!!!")

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390849)

I will find you using Duck Duck Go. FTFY.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391039)

Duck Duck Go is monetizing your traffic instead of Google. I don't get it... You switch from one evil company to another and...?

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390865)

Oh, if only you were part of the 99%, not the 1%

In this case 99% of the users of the "Web" don't care about tracking, ads, what is captured or anything other than "does it work". They cannot be bothered turning this or that off or figuring out how to block ads. the 99% run apps on Facebook, click on ad links, and blithely share information to the underworld of marketers.

The 1% are those like yourself (and me to an extent), that don't want or need help finding things on the web. We don't like leaving bread crumbs, we are bothered by the notion of being tracked. I think this feature of Mozilla sucks, but as it will most likely be an opt out, not in approach it is just another "thing" to manage. The 1% have no real power to make these browser folks stop doing this type of crap.

What is sad is that as developers of the browser, they truly have the ability to shape how all this works. They are the toll keepers and can easily set up the access point to be all "opt-in" oriented. An open source product like FireFox does not need advertisements to survive so why do they help marketers troll for our data.

So Mr. 1%, I am with you, but one day it will get too complicated to manage all these tricks to keep my "privacy" and you, I, and the other 1% will be absorbed.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391429)

I wish that, rather than tabcandy and other bullshit no one likes, Firefox had decided to integrate adblock+, cookiemonster, noscript, ghostery, et al into the browser. Fuck advertisers.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390907)

I will find you through Google.

Even if signed out of google this may not be as anonymous as you think. [google.com]

Though they say this process [google.com] will make it so.

I second that with bells on (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390909)

Ad companies will STILL try to track you regardless of this feature, this is an UNWANTED feature, it has NO PLACE IN A BROWSER. It reminds me of that cardspace stuff in Windows WHICH NEVER TOOK OFF because users didn't want it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_CardSpace

Right now Mozilla should smell the NSA breeze, it stinks, it smells like military empire building, and PRIVACY is what people want. Their USP should be privacy.

They should be focusing on fixing the https problem, certificates should be fingerprinted per site and warnings if a cert is substituted.
A better solution for self signed certificates should be available.
Certs should be grouped by county, and we should be free to remove US based certificate authorities as untrustable.
Why does the browser not let me set a *standard* profile to prevent profiling of the browser? Currently my browser is unique to 1 in 2,5 million which is too unique.
Try it:
https://panopticlick.eff.org/

Thunderbird email client needs an easier end to end encryption, I would suggest the simple automatic Public/Private key exchange system SSH uses, sure its vulnerable to first time intercepts, but it works good enough for SSH. Upgrade all emails to encrypted automatically where the public key is known.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390973)

You guys just really don't fucking get it, do you?

Oh they get it. They realize that the internet isn't the bastion of freedom it was twenty years ago when the "world wide web" was created by some hippy academics who envisioned free and near-instant global information exchange, breaking down cultural and geographical barriers and uniting humanity in common cause. None of that means jack shit compared to profit.

You aren't a citizen of the world, you're a content consumer. Now bend over and take one for Team Profit. They really do get it. They're not idealists, they're practical... and practically speaking... if you don't give the profit-oriented assholes of the world a sandbox to play in where they can exploit everyone freely, they'll just leave the sandbox and start terrorizing the whole neighborhood. And there's nothing we can really do about it, because the government is busy throwing people in jail and criminalizing any act of disobedience there. In a truly free internet, we'd just band together, setup our orbital ion cannon, and nuke the profiteering assholes off our network. Sad, isn't it? But, historically, terrorism has proven an effective method of promoting political change when all other methods of recourse have failed. Just ask the Americans -- our country was founded on it. -_- Feel free to post an empassioned reply below about how wrong I am about this and we can solve our differences peacefully, and how the power and wealth imbalance between supra-national corporations and individuals can be dealt with equitably... I'd love to hear an alternative. No, I'm perfectly serious -- for once, I'm not snarking at all. I mean it.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390991)

I don't want to make it easier for you to target me with ads.

I will find you through Google.

Huh?

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391001)

**I** don't want to make it easier for you to target me with ads. **I** don't want to share personal information with you. **I** don't want to give you yet another way to track me ("Oh, look, Mr. 18-25YO woodworking rugby-watching green-tea-drinking VI-using lesbian-fetishist on FireFox-17-with-Flash-11.101 has come back to the site!"). **I** don't want to "build a relationship" with you. **I** don't want to get your newsletter. **I** don't have the least interest in the viability of your business model outside the ad revenue you won't get from me. **I** will answer any obligatory signup questions with completely bogus info, though the throwaway email address **I** give you will at least work - Once.

**I** will find you through Google. **I** will visit the pages on your site that **I** searched for in the first place. If you have a site that appeals to me in general, **I** may casually browse around for a while (though if **I** visited with a specific goal, probably not). **I** will block ads, cookies, most scripts, and tracking bugs the whole time.

For convenience, I have highlighted uses of "I" to highlight what the parent "doesn't fucking get": that this is an individual preference, and many people don't share it.

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391091)

And many people do share it, so what's your point?

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391197)

https://panopticlick.eff.org/browser-uniqueness.pdf

Re:Kinda missin' the point, guys... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391293)

If you loudly proclaim you don't want the site to ever get your money when you block all ads and tracking, then why would the site want you there? There needs to be some financial incentive. It'd be like sitting at a restaurant, partaking of their free water and bread, and then when it comes time to order you say you're not interested and leave.

I want a plugin to go with this. (1)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390699)

One that completely randomizes what it sends to sites as my "interests" while simultaneously blocking whatever content that causes those servers to send.

Re:I want a plugin to go with this. (1)

pipatron (966506) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391289)

Or it could be put to good use. For example, you could program the interest list to only show that you're very very interested in a particular political party during election time, as a way to spam your agenda to the advertisers and inflate some polls.

Or when I recently was looking for a very specific piece of hardware, second hand because it has not been manufactured for a long time. I could have programmed my "interest filter" to only show that hardware as my interest, maybe the ad-trawlers would've found it for me!

Ok, maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all.

Fuck that ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390709)

Mozilla is proposing that the Firefox browser collects data on users' interests to pass on to websites
Tell you what Mozilla, if I want to give information to a web site, I'll give to them myself.

Don't start becoming advertising douchebags and enablers of assholes on the internet -- a web site should receive only what I tell them. I block their ads and cookies so they don't know anything more about me than necessary.

Don't become sellouts to the marketing idiots and people who want to track everything we do.

Reverse it and I am in (1)

paavo512 (2866903) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390749)

I would rather much like the opposite filter: I would let the website know that I'm not interested in stuff like sports news or royal births, and the website would then not include such things in its content or ads. Currently I am forced to search for interesting things among a lot of totally boring stuff.

Yes, I know this will never happen. Too bad.

Re:Reverse it and I am in (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390845)

I would rather much like the opposite filter: I would let the website know that I'm not interested in stuff like sports news or royal births, and the website would then not include such things in its content or ads.

Not me ... I want a plugin that makes advertisers want to show me stuff for all kinds of shit I'm not interested in. I want them to think I'm a 97 year old lesbian with a penchant for snuff, jasmine tea, and kittens.

And then I want to block their ads and cookies and ignore the fuckers.

Re:Reverse it and I am in (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391149)

I want them to think I'm a 97 year old lesbian with a penchant for snuff, jasmine tea, and kittens.

Hi Grandma! I never knew you enjoyed jasmine tea.

I already know what I'm interested in. (1)

a_big_favor (2550262) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390755)

And I don't want to tell websites I like porn.

Re:I already know what I'm interested in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390897)

You don't need to tell... even we already know that... just stop viewing girls with burka before we issue terrorist arrest

Regards NSA

Re:I already know what I'm interested in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391071)

Impersonating a federal official is a federal offense...

Re:I already know what I'm interested in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391699)

Come and get me then.

Regards, Obama.

Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390783)

The fact google pays mozilla's bills had nothing to do with this.

This is essentially what Google does. (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390795)

Since it's already being done, why not? As long as it's optional, it shouldn't be an issue. You can manage your Google ad preferences here [google.com] , by the way, including opting out of personalization altogether. Note that you have to be logged in either for editing your preferences or for Google to track you.

The only drawback here is that it will take a lot of engineering effort as well as time to get Firefox's preference estimates to come close to being as good as those of established ad companies.

JEBUS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390809)

Redtube has selected a series of midget scat pron according to your tastes...also we have sent this info to NSA just in case they correlate midget pron with terrorism.

WTF has gotten into everyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390841)

Do we really have to abandon ALL American software and services? Is EVERYBODY trying to fuck us over and sell us out?

Great idea (4, Insightful)

Dishwasha (125561) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390859)

I think it's absolutely awesome that Mozilla is helping websites to target me to only my stated interests. This will ensure that I can never be exposed to any other thoughts or ideas outside of my narrow viewpoints and will make sure that I never develop any new interests.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391591)

"Get the best deals on narrow viewpoints here!"
"Develop awesome new interests today!"
"Best prices on Ensure in $geoip exposed!"

Why, current ad-serving works perfectly.

Chocolate ice cream (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390885)

Like chocolate ice cream? Not a useful idea.

Here's a better idea. Let browsers send less, not more.

NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44390927)

Nobody wants this, so don't do it.

A tool to make people more insular (2)

landofcleve (1959610) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390947)

Is not a good thing. We are supposed to branch out and see different perspectives and have new experiences. We don't need any help in finding the things we know we are interested in and know a lot about. We need help in finding information that we are totally unaware of.

NO! (3, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390949)

I remember times when I wanted to download some apps and drivers for a broken PC. I was using a Mac to get them. The website refused to allow me to download them, because I was using a Mac, therefore I would only want the OSX apps, and didn't need that driver. I ended up having to grab another PC to get the files I needed. That was just a simple act of determining what I needed by what browser I was using. Only it was completely wrong.

I don't want a personalized experience. I want to see and get what I need. And I don't need some website determining for me what I need.

I really, really don't need nor want personalized ads for things that I have already bought.

I have an idea - how about Firefaux adding a "I can haz Leave me teh Hell alone!" option that is the default? Then if we want some website to know that we have an obsession with Goatse and the PowerPuff Girls cartoons, we can let them have that knowledge, and can receive ads for Depends, laxatives, and Kidz Bop music CDs to improve our browsing experience.

Wow, you never heard of (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391231)

User-agent switcher [mozilla.org] ?

This will kill FF for me (4, Insightful)

pesho (843750) | 1 year,24 days | (#44390979)

The reason I go to the web is to find _new_ information. Having my browser railroad me into certain website, because of what some algorithm perceived to be my interest is defying the purpose of web browsing. What happened to discovering things you never heard of, developing new interests and broadening you horizons? Wasn't this one of the promises of the WWW? How did we even end up with the idea of using the vast sea if information at our disposal to make ourselves as narrow-minded as possible? I won't even comment on the breach of privacy that this entails. Many have already discussed it.

Amazing (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391019)

Wow, now I can finally figure out what I am interested in! I never had any way of knowing this stuff before.

I posted this to Mozilla (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391025)

I read through the blog and then posted this comment back.

Mozilla may need to explore the question are they a marketing firm or a browser developer group. I see no value in having you, Mozilla, actively assisting marketing and advertising companies by collecting, synthesizing, and regurgitating my browser activity to websites.

I already know my interests. I know my needs, and I do not need to be either "guided" to a targeted set of ads or have my interests displayed on a public device (be it phone or PC) for anyone to see, even it is my interest in unicorns and gnomes. More importantly I do not need my browser taking part in helping companies gather this information. At the least be neutral, at best, as toll keepers to the "information highway" protect my viewing habits by making information gathering an Opt-In, not an Opt-Out experience. You are not beholding to advertisers so why shill for them. They can try to track me, I don't need you to tell them where I go.

In short, a lousy idea and one not worthy of the fine product Firefox has become.

(I would guess your test group was not made up of slashdot members. Not one likes the idea and they are pretty clear bout how they feel.)

Obligatory Futurama Quote (1)

tmosley (996283) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391159)

"This guy sure loves porno!"

WTF (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391171)

Why the fuck can a web site already slurp up my browsing history? Never mind the browser pre-processing it into interests for them, I don't want them to have it at all. Please Firefox devs, plug the holes instead of making them more useful to web sites.

Add this with NSA spying and you have something (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391221)

"We have a target sir. Firefox says target is a politically left-leaning, atheist."

"For Jesus, and the USA, order the drone strike immediately!"

No. 1 interest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391387)

Porn.

Remember, this is the Internet. :)

We are not the target audience (1)

Tweezak (871255) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391421)

/. readers are not who they are trying to "help."

We all know many people who don't know the first thing about where to go to find what they are looking for. They don't even use google...they are generally using their ISPs homepage because that's what was set up when they got interweb. To these folks, the site with the biggest flashing ad claiming to have what they are after must be okay...right?

If this was an option in the browser that you had to opt-in to, fine. I certainly don't want it but it might help people who struggle to find their way around.

I'd give it a try... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,24 days | (#44391463)

if it includes a payment API with the ability to set royalties for derivative and compilation/aggregation uses.

Why go in for 1/2 measures?

Mutually Assured Destruction (1)

mindsofpsi (2297452) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391563)

Does the twisted logic behind this remind anyone else of MAD? I.e. Disarmament leads to war; nuclear buildup leads to peace. I actually think this a good idea. Your average person (outside of slashdot) thinks that ads are a great trade off for free websites, and no amount of nagging them about the panopticon society is going to change that. With this proposal, a least you get to keep most of your privacy. And, hey, no world war since the bomb. Unintuitive sometimes works.

Fuck off (1)

Kamineko (851857) | 1 year,24 days | (#44391567)

Kamineko writes "Kamineko is proposing that the Firefox browser fucks off. The proposal is designed to prevent websites personalizing content to visitors' tastes, regardless of sites sucking up a user's browsing history, as they do currently. 'Let's say Firefox fucks off' says Kamineko, a dude from the internet. 'As a user, I would have complete control over which of my interests are shared, and with which websites.'"

This is the result of an extended experiment. The idea is that Firefox fucks off and is just a web browser.

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