Technology Mozilla: Introducing Anonym: Raising the Bar for Privacy-Preserving Digital Advertising

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Mozilla has acquired Anonym, a trailblazer in privacy-preserving digital advertising. This strategic acquisition enables Mozilla to help raise the bar for the advertising industry by ensuring user privacy while delivering effective advertising solutions.

The online advertising industry is undergoing a significant transformation. With growing consumer concerns and increasing scrutiny from regulators, it’s evident that current data practices are excessive and unsustainable. We are at the forefront of a pivotal shift in how privacy and advertising coexist, reshaping the digital landscape for advertisers, platforms, and consumers.

Amidst this moment of change, Anonym stands out for its unique privacy-preserving technology. By securely combining encrypted data sets from platforms and advertisers, Anonym enables scalable, privacy-safe measurement and optimization of advertiser campaigns, thereby leading a shift toward a more sustainable advertising ecosystem.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Can you marry the unmarriable? Mozilla buys ad metrics firm, raising questions about its commitment to privacy
Mozilla, a nonprofit that has always prided itself on putting people in control of their data (unlike some of its competitors, especially Google Chrome), has bought an ad metrics company called Anonym. In announcing the acquisition, the maker of Firefox said it would “help raise the bar for the advertising industry by ensuring user privacy while delivering effective advertising solutions.”

In plain words, Anonym should help Mozilla measure ad effectiveness and target ads to the people that are likely to be interested in the products advertised — and all of this supposedly in a privacy-preserving way.

Mozilla says that the Anonym solution will safeguard privacy in several ways. Firstly, data sets collected from users are supposed to be matched in a protected environment where advertisers, publishers, and Anonym itself cannot access individual user data. This should result in anonymized insights and models that should allow advertisers to run campaigns while not trampling on user privacy. Furthermore, differential privacy algorithms will add noise (randomly generated data that will obscure specific details about individuals within the dataset) to the original data set — which should in theory rule out any possibility of identifying specific users.
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We will reserve judgment on this technology for now, but the announcement leaves a sour taste in our mouths. It seems that Mozilla, which has always positioned itself firmly on one side of the targeted advertising discourse, has given up the purist view and accepted that the Web cannot exist without targeted advertising. Now they are trying to find a compromise that they find acceptable. They won’t be the first: Google with its Privacy Sandbox and Microsoft with its Protected Audience API for Edge in lieu of third-party cookies also claim to have found a way to reconcile what seems irreconcilable: targeted ads and user privacy. We have cast our doubts on both initiatives, especially Google’s.

Time will tell, but it won’t come as a shock if Firefox eventually integrates a Google or Microsoft ad platform. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
 

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