Firefox and contextual suggestions?

Am i wrong, or has Firefox just begon with selling user data to advertisers?
What’s the opinion of the community?

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"The company said that the location is derived from the IP address of the client, and converted to a “more general location”

“A specific example of this principle in action is the search’s location.”
Data and Firefox Suggest – Data@Mozilla

" We will also continue to be transparent about our data and data collection practices as we develop this new feature."
Get where you’re going faster, with Firefox Suggest

What I derive from that is there’s a general search location that isn’t terrible on it’s own though the language suggests there’s more and i’m a little dismayed they’re not just saying what they’re planning to send up front though it’s in development.

Depending on how much it is it could be somewhere between very easy to not easy to isolate searches to a single user when combined with additional information that advertisers tend to have.

Formerly opt-in, now on by default and opt-out (at least in the US) according to How-To Geek.

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This article has been proven false on reddit (I can’t send links, go to firefox’s subreddit)

No keystrokes are being sent. In fact you can try going offline and if you type something, you might still get Firefox Suggest ads, because the links are stored locally and show up when you type them. It only sends some data when you actually click them, of course.

There is an online mode that can be enabled by the user tho, but its opt-in everywhere

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If you have links i’d be very grateful and if this is wrong i’ll try my best to sniff it out.

Thank you Joel,

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I am new here so I don’t have permissions yet xD
I am going to use a bit of a dirty move tho

ht tps://libred d.it/q485wb

According to my findings Firefox says they receive “what you type” and there’s a special mode for offline rollouts of Firefox that keeps suggestions running, just without the telemetry back to Mozilla.

From the spec it appears to be pretty detailed though I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me as keystrokes even though their privacy notice permits it.

Firefox Privacy Notice — Mozilla
(Expand “Firefox Suggest”)

image

According to Mozilla, they receive from the address bar:

  • “what you type”
  • “Suggestions you click”
  • IP address
  • Times things are suggested or displayed including “clicks on that content” as well as “basic data about your interactions”

This is the spec for the url bar on Mozilla’s website: Telemetry — Firefox Source Docs documentation

If you search the word “offline” you’ll find there’s three modes for the address bar, “history”, “offline”, and “online”

These states are detailed in the code here:
UrlbarPrefs.jsm - mozsearch

* history
*   This is the scenario when the user is not in any rollouts. Firefox
*   Suggest suggestions are disabled.
* offline
*   This is the scenario for the "offline" rollout. Firefox Suggest
*   suggestions are enabled by default. Search strings and matching keywords
*   are not included in related telemetry. The onboarding dialog is not
*   shown.
* online
*   This is the scenario for the "online" rollout. The onboarding dialog will
*   be shown and the user must opt in to enable Firefox Suggest suggestions
*   and related telemetry, which will include search strings and matching
*   keywords.

I installed Firefox in VM on Debian and Ubuntu with a US timezone but sadly wasn’t able to get suggests, I think they’re doing location by IP.

I think Switched to Linux explained this well in my opinion. Firefox is compromised but there is no better alternative so Firefox is still the best and very very good for privacy. No need to worry.

I think Switched to Linux is extremely biased against Firefox.

You might say I am biased against him but nah, I dont dislike nor unsubscribe, I just keep watching so I guess I just tolerate him lol.

A lot of Linux youtubers are kinda inflammatory, these days Nick (The Linux Experiment) and Brodie Robertson seem like the most normal who actually read before speaking, as well as the DLN crew, most of the time xD

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I don’t see what the big fuss is. You can turn it off in the settings.

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I am sorry to hear about that move from Mozilla and yes, I will make a fuss about it, especially if they decide it to be on by default.

I am tired of this “we want to improve your browsing experience”. I really do not need anybody doing this for me. Search engines and Google are already doing this.

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So I need to make sure mine is set to ‘offline’? I love Firefox, so this seems like a step backwards a bit. I’m glad you can turn it off, but the fact they have it in there now is not so good. I also saw LibreWolf pitched as an alternate, but I would really hate to leave FF in general.

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For me the big fuss is -----It was turned on by default. I have to opt-out to disable it.
I’m starting to use Vivaldi and Brave a bit more. I’m going to see if it’s turned back on when next updated.

Thanks for the tip on Librewolf. I’ll check it out. The documentation looks good but I’m hesitant to change right now.

Edit: OK. I’m on Brave now. At least until this is sorted out. I read Mozilla’s privacy statement and I’m not comfortable with it.

The problem with Brave is that they also use sponsored ads that they recommend you. I never liked the way Brave works albeit I can understand what they are trying to do and you can also disable all ad stuff in Brave but I do not want a browser that serves me ads, period. In that regard I think you would go backwards with Brave.

That is why I always prefer Firefox and I always disable Pocket. That is another service I have no need for.

So apart from some alternatives like LibreWolf I still think Firefox is the only mainstream browser that I would recommend and use but Mozilla makes it really difficult to be and stay in love with Firefox we once used to.

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That sums up my thoughts on Firefox too.

I liked the idea DLN suggested of a small subscription charge, even though I’m generally pretty anti the tendency - but that’s when it’s not voluntary and for proprietary software.

I have no problem paying for privacy and a lack of adverts and tracking across ALL platforms, so long as it’s reasonable.

Where companies get it wrong with subscription charges is over-pricing - or suggesting ‘donations’ that are too greedy when multiplied by the number of users likely to contribute. They need to be selling the idea that what they’re offering is a great value bargain so MORE people consider contributing and using the browser - not as Ryan said, trying to monetise a dwindling user base which is the definition of a dead end policy.

I understand that in order to keep the lights on, there needs to be a steady income. I have no problem with paying for services that help me with my privacy. If FF came with a subscription and i find it to have value, i’d be happy to pay.
The way it’s looking now is not all that great. I hope they can turn this around.

I fully agree. However, it has to be optional though. If it becomes a requirement, even just to unlock a few extra feature, the user base shrinks even faster. Google/Chrome offers pretty much everything one could want for free, and losing dollars certainly feels a lot more painful than losing privacy.

The best way for Mozilla to make money is, in my opinion, offering additional safe and privacy respecting services like a VPN, cloud storage, e-mail, on top of yearly donation campaigns.

@joelchrono12 may have the more accurate answer here. To Mozilla’s credit they’re open about most of it but not to the point it’s clear even to someone doing a mini deep dive and things in the privacy policy like “what you type” is broad enough to drive a truck through.

Brodie’s very good at TLDRs and puts in the kind of research most people don’t have time for. It’d be good to get more confirmations though.

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