Mozilla Addresses Online Tracking With CollusionBy: Chris Richardson - February 29, 2012
Because privacy is such the buzz word in relation to Internet activities nowadays, something like this from a popular browser developer only makes sense.
What we have is the Collusion add-on from Mozilla, a Firefox extension that allows users to see which sites are tracking their movements across the web. According to the description, Collusion shows users how their data is used to create a “spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.” Aside from viewing those that are tracking your web activity, Collusion also gives the user the power to turn tracking off.
Granted, the Firefox browser introduced this capability a few versions ago, but there’s nothing wrong with reminding users about something they may have forgotten about. Besides, it’s clear that Internet privacy is very much a hot-button issue, so capitalizing on the fear of the masses by saying, “hey, our browser can protect your privacy” is only smart business. Here’s a screenshot of Firefox’s already-existent ability to turn tracking off:
To announce the arrival of Collusion, Mozilla created a special page for the add-on, and they paid special attention to their partner for this endeavor, the Ford Foundation (not to be confused with the company responsible for Ford Trucks). The goal of Collusion, which Mozilla clearly has ideas of growing it into something larger than just a mere add-on, appears to be one of education as well.
That is, Mozilla appears to be invested in educating its users about tracking, as well as giving them a widget that allows them to opt out. A couple of quotes stand out in relation:
Telling the global tracking story
Your data can be part of the larger story. When we launch the full version of Collusion, it will allow you to opt-in to sharing your anonymous data in a global database of web tracker data. We’ll combine all that information and make it available to help researchers, journalists, and others analyze and explain how data is tracked on the web.
Building user awareness
Through our work with the Ford Foundation, we’ll be building outreach campaigns to help people understand online data tracking — both the benefits and the issues — so they can make their own choices about how they want to be tracked (or choose not to be tracked at all).
The page also informs visitors that not all tracking is bad. From Mozilla’s perspective, some Internet tracking can “enhance your online experience” as site owners try to tailor an experience that appeals to their users. However, tracking without user consent is where Collusion shows its worth.
Mozilla wants to put the power of allowing or blocking Internet traffic in the hands of the users, and to facilitate this process, they are also informing the masses about the good and bad of Internet tracking.