begrudgingly implements tracking protection by default, after being shamed into it yet again by Safari, the DuckDuckGo browser, and Gnome Web (just the ones I know who implemented it first) and talks a good talk while still having Google as its default search engine and continuing to get hundreds of millions from Google/Alphabet, Inc. – the largest surveillance capitalist in the world. (Mozilla Corp is ~entirely funded by surveillance capitalism.)


@aral DDG has a browser? I only got the impression that the org drags its feet to do anything

@deathmlem @aral only an Android one. AFAIK it's also just based on WebKit.

@rugk @aral *slaps Webkit* this bad boy can fit so many adaptations

@aral isn't yahoo it's default search engine now? or bing or something?

@aral What viable alternatives are there to firefox nowadays? I have been a firefox user for about as long as it's been around

@aral Some valid criticisms, but:

1. I'd not hold #Apple as some sort of privacy respecting company. They exposed disk encryption passwords in plain text, stored all user location info without anyone knowing on user devices, routinely have embarrassing bugs and while we talk about capitalism - refuse to pay fair share of taxes and exploit cheap labour.

2. Mozilla uses the funding to further fund free software, like #rustlang, Servo and routinely gives back to free software projects.

@aral They have to get the funding from somewhere and I suppose user donations wouldn't be enough. They COULD and SHOULD do better, as you said #GNOME Web already did this with a minuscule team compared to #Firefox. But of all the major browsers they're still the best.

@MatejLach @aral When it comes to big internet companies I don't consider any of them to be especially ethical. They all have different flaws.

@aral If they are hypocrites (but we already knew that) what do you recommend as navigator? The choice is more than limited, no ?

@aral I'm getting a little tired of your constant Mozilla bashing. I agree, that partnership with Google is problematic, but until there's another funding source at least there's a second non-Webkit open source browser engine. Take away that money and Firefox risks fading into oblivion.

@LukasRos You know there's a cure for that, right? (Don’t worry, I'll save you the trouble.) For the record, I’m more than a little tired of Mozilla apologists who cannot see the hypocrisy that’s staring them right in their faces.

@aral I won't complain again. I respect your opinion and it's not that I don't see the problem but I would rather hear about solutions.

@aral But it is hilarious that they use Google Analytics on that page.

@MatejLach @aral common standard at Mozilla… I'd say unfortunately.

They do have a special contract with Google though to prohibit using the collected data for other purposes, but well… depends on whether you believe in this contract/the involved parties.

@dbuntinx Gnome Web on Linux, Safari on macOS/iOS, and DuckDuckGo on LineageOS are my primary browsers.

I thought DuckDuckGo's app for Android was a search bar only? Did they release their own fully-fledged browser too?

@aral @dbuntinx
I can understand supporting Gnome Web and #DuckDuckGo browsers.
Would you really recommend the closed-source Safari browser over the open-source Firefox?

Turning on Tracking Protection is just a button toggle away. There are some really good privacy-protecting add-ons like uMatrix, Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin etc. available for Firefox.

It would be bad advice to recommend #Safari over #Firefox to someone who doesn't know all the nuances about tracking and ad-blocking.

@njoseph @dbuntinx @aral As always, it depends on the threat model or your judging criteria. Firefox is open source, but if you read the source you'll find that it's sending a lot of detailed telemetry data back to a central collection point. You can of course disable that, but 99% of Firefox users will be unaware and are being farmed for data in a way that's arguably worse than what Goodle or Facebook does.

I feel like every time I install Firefox, it asks me if I want to allow telemetry. I always disable it, but with a little twinge of guilt... I mean, they collect it because it's useful, right? Presumably it has helped them build and improve a great and popular browser. I'm glad some people leave it on, and I don't think it's a hidden option.
@njoseph @dbuntinx @aral

@mikefordays @aral @dbuntinx @njoseph They collect it because they make money from search engines by selling access to run queries on the central telemetry database. It's not about improving the browser.

@bob @mikefordays @aral @dbuntinx @njoseph
this is absolutely not what is advertised when you install it. That's not the first time that I read such claims, but I can't find a concrete analysis of that behaviour. Is this documented or analysed somewhere ?

@RLetot @njoseph @dbuntinx @aral @mikefordays To anyone who is curious about this I'd say don't take my word for it. Read the source code and then read the forums related to the telemetry system and business operations.

Would you mind linking some relevant code or discussion? I am sadly not source-code literate.
@RLetot @njoseph @dbuntinx @aral

@mikefordays @bob @njoseph @dbuntinx Mozilla. Gets. Its. Billions. From. Google.

Mozilla. Is. A. Surveillance. Capitalist.

You do not have to feel guilty about opting out of their surveillance. They are not what they say they are.

@bob @njoseph @dbuntinx @aral thanks for this heads-up. I honestly git to know about the not tracking feature from Firefox itself and since then it has been on. Nevertheless does this means I'm clear from any data collection? Or are they still collecting something and for what purpose? I honestly like and support Mozilla due to projects like Firefox but also other things they do to help standards; internet privacy; education..

@aral Sad to hear as I use Mozilla firefox as my main browser and DuckDuckGo as my main search engine. Not attached to anything as ever and could change that any time.
Do you know if chromium is any better :

@aral Fact check:
Safari introduced itelligent" tracking protection in iOS 11/Safari 11 (Ref --> In September 2017.

At that time the first tracking protection experiment of Mozilla was long finished. (Ref: – finished in February 2017)

Also DDG Browser has been released later:

And finally, also #FirefoxFocus is way older than these two: Mozilla released it at the end of 2016. (Ref



Conclusion: Firefox was well ahead of many browsers in terms of tracking protection and can be said to be one leading party in that stuff.


(also in reply to @bootsy) About search, yet again: Google is only default in Europe and US, AFAIK. I think they _had_ Yahoo in the past, but after Yahoo got bought by Verizon they ended their contract.
In Russia and China they deliver other local search engines. (altghough those are certainly not more privacy-friendly)


@aral I think it's pretty idealistic to call them hypocrites — as if everyone doesn't have to make compromises to get by. Like "Hey, Josh hates capitalism and yet he charges money for his products! Hypocrite!" Anyway here's a decent thread on the internal decision process on tracking protection:

@joshsharp You're right, I mean, after all, Green Peace takes billions from Exxon Mobil and even is funded by Facebook. Oh, wait, we aren’t and they don’t because, unlike Mozilla, we aren’t hypocrites.

Being the opposite of what you say you are isn’t a compromise, it’s a con.

Mozilla is a surveillance capitalist.

Follow the money.

@aral @joshsharp Tor also, then, considering they take money from various state agencies including US ones?

@aral I think "being the opposite of what you say you are" sounds like a powerful statement but is empty because how do you define "opposite"? Yes, they take money from Google, who make money from surveillance, and that is bad. Agreed. If they do only good with it, is that good entirely negated by the source of the funds? I think you're saying yes, it is, but I disagree.

@joshsharp @aral it is not that indirect in this case. Mozilla actively promoting Google search is the problem that Aral is pointing out.

All those searches went through Google instead of something else because Firefox actively made Google search the default.

Consider a non-profit taking donations from a drug lord and using it for good. No ethical problem with that. But actively promoting drugs to its users can't be ethical.

@njoseph @aral sure, that is a fair point and more ethically murky 😕

@joshsharp @aral IMHO it’s not idealistic at all, it’s the very definition of hypocrisy: say one thing (open web), do the opposite (make google your default search engine and take the money)

@aral "...surveillance capitalism..." is such a creepy (and apt) term.

@aral I'm reading the pieces you linked. It occurs to me that granting individuals property rights in their personal data might make a decent start. It looks a lot like copyright, but for personal data. At present, that data is only protected (weakly) by flawed "privacy" legislation. Assigning property rights (and therefore value) to it seems like an elegant way to return agency to individuals.

@aral Your approach seems to be sort of the reverse. Outlaw the use of data as property. I worry that just shifts the control to another centralised power, rather than back to the individual.

@basi My central thesis – and my understanding of modern technology as someone who’s been coding since age 7 – is that we are sharded beings; that aspects of our selves are digital/networked. And I’m opposed to property rights being applied to any aspect of people. That's how we lose personhold and revert to our historic state of being considered property. Personhood & individual sovereignty are rather modern concepts – I’d hate to see them backdoored due to digital illiteracy.

@aral Well, I respect the perspective. It's a daunting topic.

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