Monday, May 19, 2008

On FireFox -Data-

I put this in Mepislovers thread about the possibility that Mozilla Foundation could be entering the data mining market with FireFox.
Iceweasel has been known to include it's own security patches outside of the mainline FireFox source code... so there is precedent for Debian to ship a version of FireFox that is different at the code level. If Mozilla Foundation were to follow through on the idea of data collection, IceWeasel would be in an established position to remove the data mining code from the original source, or to maintain the source code from a point before data collection was included.

However, I do not think FireFox itself will come to that point. I have a feeling that there are probably going to be several nasty flames emerging forth from those who work on the FireFox code base against the idea perpetrators at Mozilla.org. I think it is possible that the Foundation Executives forget the features that separate the FireFox builds from the main competitor, Microsoft Internet Explorer. FireFox developers have shown a huge tendency towards user privacy and security.

That being said, the report listed here is from The Register... who... lets face it... intentionally writes stories in the worst way possible. In other words, grab the salt.

Techcrunch has a different take on the story report.


http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/13/mozilla-stealth-data-project-could-be-just-what-the-internet-needs/

Techcrunch basically punts the idea as a tool similar to the Alexa toolbar, only native to Firefox.

I see a couple of different ways to handle the data collection then that might prove more palatable to the mass market of FireFox users. The method I would prefer is to include an Alexa Add-On with the download of FireFox. During installation ask if users would like to go ahead and install the Alexa Add-On for tracking. Also include text on the Google / Firefox homepage stating that the "Alexa Add-On" is available for "Project Surf"

Thus the headache is removed that the tracking data is included in the mainline source code. In addition, users who feel that they do not want to participate, have an easy way to determine whether or not the software has been downloaded and installed simply by the Add-On section of FireFox.
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