Mozilla plans to launch a new Firefox experiment for Cliqz next week for German Firefox users who download the browser from the organization's website.
Mozilla has a business relationship with Cliqz GMBH. The German company acquired Ghostery recently, and maintains its own web browser as well as browser extensions.
Cliqz adds real-time results and suggestions to Firefox's address bar. If you type "weather Amsterdam" for instance, a weather forecast is displayed directly in the Firefox address bar.
Mozilla announced today on its German press blog that it plans to run a Cliqz experiment in the coming weeks.
This experiment will run only in Germany, and for less than one percent of users who download Firefox from Mozilla's website. These users will have Cliqz activated as an add-on automatically according to Mozilla.
Mozilla notes that it is necessary to transfer address bar content to Cliqz servers to power the functionality. This means, essentially that anything that is entered into the address bar, either automatically or manually, is transferred to Cliqz.
In other words, users who are selected for participation are opted-in automatically in the data collecting.
Cliqz runs cleanup routines according to Mozilla to ensure that sensitive information is not transferred. The company deletes IP address furthermore, and does not create user browsing profiles either.
Mozilla Firefox users who don't want to use Cliqz may deactivate the add-on or disable it instead.
- Load about:addons in the browser's address bar to open the Add-ons Manager.
- You take part in the experiment if you see Cliqz listed there (and have not added it through other means).
- You may disable or remove Cliqz from Firefox using buttons provided on the page.
A German support page offers additional information on Cliqz and the removal.
Firefox users are probably more privacy conscious than any other browser users, with the exception of the Tor browser probably. The browser is less privacy invasive than Google Chrome for instance, and offers plenty of settings and options to improve privacy further.
Mozilla started to change its stance on data collecting in the past year or so however. Opting users in automatically is something that I'm not fond off. I don't know whether Firefox installations with Cliqz added to them will inform the user about this behavior. I think that is the least that Mozilla could do to prevent a total privacy disaster.
Now You: What's your take on this?