Mozilla to launch Firefox Cliqz Experiment with data collecting

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.

Mozilla's relationship with Cliqz began when the company added Cliqz as a social provider in Firefox. Cliqz was launched in early 2017 as a Firefox Test Pilot experiment.

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.

cliqz test pilot firefox

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.

  1. Load about:addons in the browser's address bar to open the Add-ons Manager.
  2. You take part in the experiment if you see Cliqz listed there (and have not added it through other means).
  3. You may disable or remove Cliqz from Firefox using buttons provided on the page.
Read also:  Firefox 53.0 release: find out what is new

A German support page offers additional information on Cliqz and the removal.

My Take

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?

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Mozilla to launch Firefox Cliqz Experiment with data collecting
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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.
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Responses to Mozilla to launch Firefox Cliqz Experiment with data collecting

  1. Stephen October 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

    It's nice that they are being open about it. That's the best I can say. No addon should be automatically installed and enabled, especially one that collects data.

    This type of behavior (however small the sample size) doesn't inspire confidence in Mozilla. They are already losing the browser wars badly, and doing things like this doesn't bring up visions of a privacy conscious company.

  2. kalmly October 6, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    I will never have to bother disabling Cliqz. I recently updated to version 56 and then switched my default browser back to PaleMoon. I plan on staying here for the foreseeable future.

  3. Norm October 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

    This is a pretty clear indicator of Mozilla's mindset. It does not bode well for the future.

  4. TelV October 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    So what does Cliqz add which is not already available in Firefox I ask myself. Is it just a means of expanding one's social network perhaps? How does that compete with Facebook, Instagram and similar? (Both rhetorical questions by the way).

    Jean-Paul Schmetz, the founder and CEO of Cliqz seems to have a finger in many pies including Hubert Burda Media which is an international media company according to Crunchbase: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/jean-paul-schmetz

    On its "About" page, Cliqz.com describes itself as a "small startup", but is listed as a brand on Wikipedia's page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_Burda_Media

    Why would Mozilla want to jump into bed with Cliqz I wonder. Maybe there's more to this than meets to eye, or maybe I just have a suspicious nature when it comes to privacy concerns.

  5. jan October 6, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

    Mozilla is scrambling to make the FF more universal, more attractive, more sexy, more "you name it". But it is just scrambling, trying, stumbling forward and backwards; no clear line, no strategy.
    It looks like it is gradually and softly going under. Sad but that is my perception.

  6. Clairvaux October 6, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    Whaaaat ?

    • Anonymous October 6, 2017 at 9:30 pm #

      Pretty sure it's disabled for anyone who opted out of Firefox's main data collection, like Shield studies. If not, experiments.enabled set to false should do the trick.

      This needs to be double checked.

  7. Appster October 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    Sit down and remember: Mozilla is with the good guys! Now repeat that ten times a day.

    • Anonymous October 6, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

      The idea is to counter Google's monopoly on everything. They are currently facing a few billion dollars fine in the EU for being anticompetitive with their search engine. Weather forecasts are one of those things.

      All experiments collect data by default, that's why they can be called experiments. They are Opt In.

       

      @Martin
      "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."

      The default config is indeed a little more invasive, although it's protected with differential privacy, which protects individual users from being traced back as such.
      However the customized config is getting even MORE privacy, with the Tor Uplift project, things like Containers, and an overall work to simplify access to higher privacy levels.

      • Pants October 6, 2017 at 9:36 pm #

        This sums it up for me:

        "These things MUST BE OPT-IN, with clear descriptions what's happening so that my grandmother can understand. Everything else is (borderline) spyware." - https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/74n0b2/mozilla_ships_cliqz_experiment_in_germany_for_1/dnzkedd/

        I'm happy about differential privacy, I'm happy about opposition to google and monopoly breaking (I support the small guy in general), I'm happy about data policies and data (retention) policies etc if they meet standards .. but that should be a given when Mozilla partners up. And I understand experiments and the need for them, and I understand the need for telemetry.

        But FFS .. OPT-IN - this fallback to the original OPT-OUT notice shown on new installs is BS

    • Anonymous October 6, 2017 at 9:27 pm #

      Whoops, didn't mean to post this as a reply to you. I made a correction but it is cut out from my main post so I have to "answer" you a second time to tie the two together again. https://www.ghacks.net/2017/10/06/mozilla-to-launch-firefox-cliqz-experiment-with-data-collecting/#comment-4240835

      In the meantime, I checked the source code for Shield studies and the user is considered opted out if he opted out of the main Firefox health report thing in Firefox's preferences.

      We need to check that it is also the case for experiments, although as pointed down the thread, they can be disabled in about:config.

    • www.com October 10, 2017 at 4:51 am #

      We will, Appster. While you obsess about it.

      As long as there's an opt-out, I'm not too concerned.

      • Appster October 10, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

        @www.com: Poor sob, your argument in favor of Mozilla is slowly but steadily losing ground. The management at Mountain View is working hard on destroying it entirely. Going by your logic they could implement hundreds of privacy-breaching features and you would still call them "privacy-respecting", because opt-out... The fact that Mozilla doesn't notify its users through a pop-up or similar before activating this feature is a very shady move for an organization that likes to lecture others about privacy. Users who don't read articles like this one won't even know whether it is installed or not.

        Meanwhile I am using Waterfox, the unfucked version of Firefox. Have fun with your spyware!

      • www.com October 11, 2017 at 3:28 am #

        @Appster,

        Cliqz is an add-on that you can remove. It's right there in the add-ons list, which I'm sure a person of your (limited) intelligence would notice if it was there.

        The experiment is only in Germany and for 1% of new Firefox installs for the duration of the test. Not the alarmist nonsense that you whine about all the time.

      • Appster October 11, 2017 at 9:12 am #

        @www.com:

        > Cliqz is an add-on that you can remove. It's right there in the add-ons list, which I'm sure a person of your (limited) intelligence would notice if it was there.

        Cliqz is going to be a system add-on much like Firefox Screenshots and Pocket are. This means that it is non-removable and will not show up in about:addons. The only way you can detect it is Help -> Troubleshooting Information. They said it in their announcement. Oh, you didn't know that? Color me surprised.

        > The experiment is only in Germany and for 1% of new Firefox installs for the duration of the test. Not the alarmist nonsense that you whine about all the time.

        Another thing you would know if you had read the announcement is that Mozilla intends to eventually bring the spyware to all Firefox installations. This experiment is done in order to test out the tech beforehand.

        Summary: Gross, uninformed nonsense on your part, as expected.

      • www.com October 14, 2017 at 2:49 am #

        >Cliqz is going to be a system add-on much like Firefox Screenshots and Pocket are.

        Cite where this will be a permanent feature.

        >The only way you can detect it is Help -> Troubleshooting Information. They said it in their announcement. Oh, you didn't know that? Color me surprised.

        You can also disallow it from happening by ticking the "Do Not Track" box under Tools - Options - Privacy - Manage your Do Not Track settings. Didn't know that? Well color me surprised too...

        >Another thing you would know if you had read the announcement is that Mozilla intends to eventually bring the spyware to all Firefox installations. This experiment is done in order to test out the tech beforehand.

        More negative speculation on your part.

        As far as I'm personally concerned, as long as there's a way of disabling it, then I'm not too worried about it.

        >Summary: Gross, uninformed nonsense on your part, as expected.

        Look who's talking. You really should use some Windex on that mirror of yours. You can't seem to see yourself too clearly.

      • Appster October 14, 2017 at 9:45 am #

        @www.com:

        > Cite where this will be a permanent feature.

        Mozilla is clearly stating that they are preparing for "widespread use". I leave it to you to interpret this term.

        > You can also disallow it from happening by ticking the "Do Not Track" box under Tools - Options - Privacy - Manage your Do Not Track settings. Didn't know that? Well color me surprised too...

        No, not quite. That's not the way to turn them off. Firefox experiments are linked to telemetry, so if telemetry is turned off, they will be turned off, too. There are settings more directly linked to them, just type the word "experiments" in the about:config search bar and you'll see the list.

        Summary: You have no idea what you are talking about and have no intention to change that.

        > More negative speculation on your part.

        So, more "widespread use" coming from Mozilla itself is just the same as speculation on my part. I see.

        > As far as I'm personally concerned, as long as there's a way of disabling it, then I'm not too worried about it.

        Words of a fool who doesn't acknowledge the general path the company he is shilling for is heading to. Pathetic. I guess you would still say that if they included hundreds of spyware settings. I don't begrudge you, keep using your spyware instead of the cleaned-up version out there (Waterfox).

        > Look who's talking. You really should use some Windex on that mirror of yours. You can't seem to see yourself too clearly.

        It's the same with you. I guess the people around here have begun to see you for the troll you are a long time ago.

      • www.com October 15, 2017 at 7:04 am #

        >Mozilla is clearly stating that they are preparing for "widespread use". I leave it to you to interpret this term.

        That’s not a citation. That’s interpretive speculation.

        Again, please cite where this will be a permanent feature.

        >No, not quite. That's not the way to turn them off. Firefox experiments are linked to telemetry, so if telemetry is turned off, they will be turned off, too. There are settings more directly linked to them, just type the word "experiments" in the about:config search bar and you'll see the list.

        It will prevent cliqz from being installed on that 1% of all new downloads in Germany where they are conducting that test for a limited time. Germany, a country that has some of the greatest privacy laws in the world.

        Summary: You can’t cite where this will be a permanent change and you can’t back up what you say. The only thing you’ve presented so far is fear & speculation.

        >So, more "widespread use" coming from Mozilla itself is just the same as speculation on my part. I see.

        Nope, just your biased opinion masquerading as fact.

        >Words of a fool who doesn't acknowledge the general path the company he is shilling for is heading to.

        If you’re that afraid then you should be using something like tor or stay off the internet. Then you’ll be ‘safe’.

        PS: Want to know how much of a raise I got last year? --lol

        >Pathetic. I guess you would still say that if they included hundreds of spyware settings. I don't begrudge you, keep using your spyware instead of the cleaned-up version out there (Waterfox).

        Ah, but questions are being raised as we speak. I see Mr. Alex is in full damage control mode.

        https://www.reddit.com/r/waterfox/comments/74ksbf/waterfox_now_ships_with_additional_addons/

        https://www.reddit.com/r/waterfox/comments/71qn8m/waterfox_still_contains_firefox_telemetry/

        https://www.reddit.com/r/waterfox/comments/71qn8m/waterfox_still_contains_firefox_telemetry/dnqtf5z/

        The fact that he’s even being questioned about this is remarkable. I guess it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, now is it?

        But hey, even Mr. Alex has bills to pay. Why don’t you help him out there? Hmmm?

        >It's the same with you. I guess the people around here have begun to see you for the troll you are a long time ago.

        Even if that was true, I’m not losing any sleep over it. I enjoy being here when you’re around.

        lol…

      • Appster October 15, 2017 at 10:54 am #

        @wwwanker:

        > That’s not a citation. That’s interpretive speculation.

        Fine, fine. Now feel free to point out your interpretation of these to me:

        - "widespread use"
        - Why does Mozilla undertake this experiment if they didn't intend on permanently including it? Just for shits and giggles?

        Doubt that you can come up with any meaningful explanation for that.

        > It will prevent cliqz from being installed on that 1% of all new downloads in Germany where they are conducting that test for a limited time. Germany, a country that has some of the greatest privacy laws in the world.

        Germany's privacy laws are not preventing anything. Shady companies like the Eyeo GmbH (developers of AdBlock Plus) who make money with blackmailing site owners into paying them money to be on their "white list" or the shady company that develops Ghostery, which claims to be a tracking blocker but sells user data at the same time, have their seat there. Nice straw man argument of you anyway.

        > Nope, just your biased opinion masquerading as fact.

        I guess Mozilla is just undertaking the experiment for shits and giggles, they are taking in all the bad PR because they never ever would dare to include it into Firefox permanently and generate some fine revenue with data mining. Yep, totally makes sense you fool.

        > If you’re that afraid then you should be using something like tor or stay off the internet. Then you’ll be ‘safe’.

        Wow, that's your ultimate answer to all people demanding that privacy should be respected, right? "Don't use the Internet", LOL. Anyway, what did I expect to be coming from you? I still deceive myself into believing that something useful could come out of your mouth at some point.

        > PS: Want to know how much of a raise I got last year? --lol

        Since Mozilla's budget is more limited than Google's, and since their influence is shrinking with any passing day, I rather expect them to tighten the salaries of their troll armies. Harsh times are coming for you, haha.

        > Ah, but questions are being raised as we speak. I see Mr. Alex is in full damage control mode.

        LOL, all the things you've brought up are part of the main Firefox. Alex is just rebuilding it, trying to keep the crap out. This sometimes fails, especially when entirely new crap settings are involved. You blame him for that, which is another nice example of your "throwing dirt at others, hoping something will stick" attitude. Pathetic. By the way, notice that all the issues that have been brought up were fixed in Waterfox immediately? You can wait for that in Mozilla's case til you are old and grey, since they have an interest in data collection.

        > The fact that he’s even being questioned about this is remarkable. I guess it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, now is it? But hey, even Mr. Alex has bills to pay.

        Now I am asking you: Please provide a quote that ultimately proves that Waterfox is generating revenue from user data sniffing, instead of just from search deals like Alex claims?

        > Even if that was true, I’m not losing any sleep over it. I enjoy being here when you’re around.

        Out of us two, you are the one defending data collection bullshit and feature removal. No need to change positions, I think.

  8. Anonymous October 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    No need to collect any data to predict the weather about Firefox.

  9. Tom Hawack October 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    My take on this?

    For myself I wouldn't care (should I be concerned) as long as disabling, opting-out is possible. I would immediately disable this experiment. But if I'm far from being a techie guru I have the basis required to know how to deal with the essentials.

    For the idea itself, its carrying-out for users who take anything related to their computer as it comes (we know I guess that a whole pan of cyber-business relies on those users) I'm far more reserved. Many just won't know their urlbar content makes a hop to a 3rd-party server. Is that an argument to condemn their ignorance or to disagree with the validity of such a Cliqz Experiment I don't know for sure. People are responsible but on the other hand assistance is legitimate. At my age I still have no definitive answer, it depends on the circumstances.

    • Steve October 7, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

      > as long as disabling, opting-out is possible.

      I don't want to be unsure whether I have opted out of all possible privacy breaching/data sharing/telemetry experiments when I install a new software. How many preferences and config tweaks will I have to toggle to keep my data to myself? All this has to be opt-in in my view.

  10. Cliqz PR October 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    Hope that helps to clarify things:
    Statement from Cliqz: Cliqz obviously needs a lot of data to power what it is - a private search engine. With the strictly anonymous statistical data we collect with our Human Web technology we build our web index. It's really only about pure statistics, the Human Web data is free from any data about individual users. To ensure that, we use sophisticated anonymization, encryption and proxy technologies. Read more at https://cliqz.com/en/whycliqz/human-web And for technical experts thttps://gist.github.com/solso/423a1104a9e3c1e3b8d7c9ca14e885e5

    • Anonymous October 6, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

      Trying to prevent "a total privacy disaster?" :)

  11. Rich Gee October 6, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

    Another nail in the FF coffin.

  12. Anonymous October 6, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    Correction, I confused experiments with Test Pilot, which have to be picked by the user. These experiments are not the same. Do they respect Firefox's main data collection preference ? They should.

  13. Jenga October 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    Does Cliqz fall under - https://wiki.mozilla.org/Telemetry/Experiments

    If so, wouldn't the following in user.js ensure it's never enabled

    user_pref("experiments.supported", false);
    user_pref("experiments.enabled", false);

  14. Jason October 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm #

    It's as though there are two departments at Mozilla: one spends a ton of money branding Firefox as a privacy tool while the other opts people into sensitive data collection experiments. I wonder what the watercooler conversations are like at Mozilla.

  15. Yuk October 6, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    The entire data collection business and privacy intrusion is mostly focused on users who either don't care about it or don't want to be bothered with it for several reasons. It's people who usually do not care and/or understand the possible impact of this sleazy business. And unfortunately they represent the big majority of users.

    So here we can express our warranted concerns but it will not change the majorities blindfolded mind. It's a fight agains windmills and we will probably lose it because of the marvellous ignorance of the masses.

  16. Tom Hawack October 6, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

    Side-note. I was talking about this Cliqz Experiment with friends and came up the astonishment this experience was taking place in Germany given the fact that Germany is perhaps one of the most privacy concerned countries (Firefox I think has in this country one of the highest penetration quota). In Mediterranean countries Firefox is indeed less present but my guess is that such an experience would have led to less protest than it bound to in Germany.

  17. Yuliya October 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm #

    Ugh, how is this any better than Chromium? You can easily get Chromium without sync, drm and rtc capabilities. The answer I guess, it isn't. Not anymore, at this point. Not one single, sane browser is left? Apparently not..

    • CHEF-KOCH October 7, 2017 at 2:26 am #

      What exactly is wrong with Chromium? Even the sync version is okay.

    • Anonymous Cretin October 8, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

      Chromium doesn't have anti-fingerprinting and first party isolation and and and .. you really can't compare the two. Just look: Which browser is used for the Tor Browser?

    • Anonymous October 9, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

      Cliqz is an add-on, you can remove it if you notice that you have it (can't miss it). The experiment will occur in Germany only and for 1% of new Firefox installs for the duration of the test.

  18. goldendays October 7, 2017 at 3:02 am #

    Cliqz--Snappy with browser with an interface that is relatively pleasing to the eye. Thanks for the article.

    Namiste and many thanks and blessings in all your work--would switch to Cliqz in a heartbeat if it had a few more extensions with which to work. "It seems to be" faster than Firefox 57 beta versions. Go figure . . . owned by Mozilla, but better than Mozilla.

  19. beachbubba October 7, 2017 at 4:42 am #

    I completely agree that Firefox users as a group would tend to be more privacy aware that users of most other mainstream browsers, and that's WHY they are using Firefox. So, with Mozilla getting into the data mining business, I don't think it will bode well for the future growth of the Firefox browser. What a strange turn around it would be if people actually went back to the Microsoft browser as the lesser of the browser evils. Mozilla had better tread lightly. You don't brag about the privacy enhancing features of your product one month, then start adding spyware the next month. What are they thinking???

  20. Anonymous October 7, 2017 at 5:47 am #

    http://www.basilisk-browser.org/preview/index.shtml
    "We are working on getting the browser release-ready by the end of the summer or start of autumn."

    Can't wait.

  21. Well Managed October 7, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

    Mozilla loves bad press. It probably spends a lot on advertising its brand, but repeatedly kills its reputation with little experiments that bring public outcry. Money well wasted.

  22. Bologna October 8, 2017 at 11:18 pm #

    It's all about more money and more profit. And even more esquipedalian words to sell shit as something grandiose.

  23. Wonton October 9, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    Ghostery was created by an advertising company, changes made in past have been very questionable to users privacy and security, now its going a step further, looks like Mozilla finally decided they can make more money selling its users out

  24. Leave a Reply October 9, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    Welcome back to Links!

    - Links (web browser)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Links_%28web_browser%29

  25. sebdou October 12, 2017 at 5:03 am #

    add to your hosts file

    0.0.0.0 abtests.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 anolysis-gid.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 anolysis-telemetry.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 anti-tracking.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 antiphishing.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 api.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 cdn.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 hpn-collector.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 hpn-sign.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 offers-api.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 safe-browsing-quorum.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 safe-browsing.cliqz.com
    0.0.0.0 stats.cliqz.com

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