Mozilla will collect search data from US Firefox users


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Apr 24, 2016
Mozilla today released a new version of Firefox that will allow it to collect search data from U.S. desktop users. In doing so, the browser developer claims it will do so in a privacy-friendly manner. "To improve Firefox based on your needs, it is essential to understand how users use features such as search," Mozilla said.

The Firefox developer says it wants to improve the "search experience" by developing new features such as Firefox Suggest, which recommends online content based on searches. "To make sure these types of features work well, we need more insight into overall search activity without compromising our commitment to user privacy," Mozilla says.

Mozilla says it wants to better understand what users are searching for, in order to prioritize the "right features" based on that understanding. For mapping searches, MozIlla will use twenty categories. In doing so, the search data collected is not linked to specific individuals and an anonymization technology called OHTTP is used to prevent search data from being linked to users' IP addresses. With Oblivious HTTP (OHTTP), encrypted data is routed through an intermediary to hide the user's ip address.

"We understand that this new data collection may cause questions," Mozilla further notes. The Firefox developer adds that users can choose to avoid sending user data via an opt-out. Also, no data is collected in Private Browsing mode. For now, data collection is only enabled on U.S. desktop users and will not immediately cause any visible changes while browsing. "Our new approach to data allows us to improve our product features and offerings in ways that matter to you," Mozilla concludes the announcement.
Translated with DeepL from Dutch:
Mozilla blog post:

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