Firefox 58: Mozilla will collect only base Telemetry data (release channel)

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 3, 2017
Updated • Aug 3, 2018

Mozilla will change Telemetry collecting in Firefox fundamentally for users on the release channel; in short: only base Telemetry is collected in release channel versions.

Traditionally, Mozilla collected two sets of Telemetry data of its Firefox web browser. Base Telemetry data that was on by default and could be disabled by Firefox users, and extended Telemetry which was off by default for Firefox release builds and on by default for pre-release channels such as Beta or Nightly.

Firefox users can go to about:preferences#privacy to control the data collecting. The functionality was streamlined in recent versions of Firefox to reduce the Telemetry controls to just one setting (previously there were two).

firefox 58 data collecting

You find the following three settings under Data Collection and Use in Firefox 58 (some of which are also in older versions of Firefox):

  • Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla (default on).
  • Allow Firefox to install and run studies (default on).
  • Allow Firefox to send crash reports to Mozilla.

The two major changes are that there is only one Telemetry control for Firefox (the first preference), and that there is one for Shield studies.

The aim of Shield Studies is to push features to a small selection of Firefox release users. These users test the new functionality or change and get a chance to provide feedback on the experience. Changes range from tiny ones like a different button color to new features.

Tip: You can load about:studies to list the studies that are run in the copy of Firefox at that time.

The good news for Firefox users who are on release versions of Firefox is that Mozilla will collect less data because it won't collect extended Telemetry data anymore on release.

For Firefox users, there is no significant change; the data upload setting users chose is respected as before. The opt-in for additional Telemetry data went away; instead we always collect less data on Firefox release.

Important Telemetry preferences

The following preferences are the core Telemetry controls that users can set on the about:config page or using a user.js file.

  • datareporting.healthreport.uploadEnabled -- Main Telemetry preference that determines whether Telemetry data is collected and uploaded.
  • toolkit.telemetry.enabled -- This preference determines the build. True means pre-release version of Firefox, false means release version of Firefox.
  • nsITelemetry.canRecordBase -- Determines whether any Telemetry data can be collected. Default is true.
  • nsITelemetry.canRecordExtended -- Reflects if Firefox is a pre-release build (true) or release build (false).

Check out the main tracking bug for additional information.

Firefox 58: Mozilla will collect less Telemetry data (release channel)
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Firefox 58: Mozilla will collect less Telemetry data (release channel)
Mozilla will change Telemetry collecting in Firefox fundamentally for users on the release channel; in short: less Telemetry is collected in release channel versions.
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  1. Baalzebub said on November 4, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Instead of always complaining about all telemetry and datacollection from all and their dogs, we could simply turn to systems where the users are respected. The Free Software Foundation recommends several operating systems preserving the right of the user, Trisquel Linux an example. We can also run Replicant on our phones to avoid backdoors and corporate tracking. We have a choice, use it. Of course we lose a bit functionality, but when can we ever we have it all?

  2. Sad said on November 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    The only reason why I stayed with Mozilla’s Firefox and haven’t even considered Chrome was because I believed that Mozilla respected the privacy of their users. Now, I’m not sure anymore……

    1. Happy said on November 4, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      Next time read the article before complaining. Oh I forgot… you’re just a troll.

  3. CHEF-KOCH said on November 4, 2017 at 7:26 am

    The fall of Mozilla, they promised soooo much and at the end there all the same. Everyone is now collecting data. No matter which company behind. Also stay away from Mods there mostly insecure because there not maintained the same way as regular browsers.

    1. always these trolls on ghacks said on November 4, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Maybe you should read the article. It’s about LESS collected data (and there is no doubt that data are important for a data-driven decisions; data-driven decisions are these decisions which are important to respect the expectations of the users. And by the way: it was always optional) and you’re still complaining. It’s hart to see how your comment should not be treated as troll comment since you’re complaining about a clear privacy improment.

      1. Mushroom said on November 6, 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Yeah, these trolls. May God bless all the data driven decisions. They are so beneficial for us. Thank you so much for your adjustment.

  4. Tom Hawack said on November 3, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Let’s wait and see. And feel maybe a less tough whip, be happy of that when the ideal would be no whip. No whip, no telemetry. We are sliding slowly and surely towards an acceptation of the very concept of telemetry, in place for better serving the user in the same way law enforcement and privacy consequences are explained to combat terrorism. This is becoming insane. Those of us who have known the past decades in computing can testify that great applications, software, OSs, browsers made their way free of telemetry.

    I won’t take what may be an opportunistic statement for the evidence of a telemetry policy u-turn. I’ll keep sticking my nose in the beast’s core. Truth is I’ve come to the point of doubting of companies’ sincerity, I believe they’d lie for a penny, all of them. Now I’m running Waterfox browser but should code of future post-57 Firefox versions make it impossible for Waterfox to keep on with its aims that I’d return to the only company I truly and totally have confidence in its honesty, which is Pale Moon. I had left it because I was thrilled by what I’d call “new code”, innovations. But should those have as counterpart telemetry and privacy unavoidable issues that I could very well return to a browser’s fundamentals.

    1. Anonymous said on November 3, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Today’s Firefox is the same as yesterday’s though, when you left Pale Moon. There is no “privacy unavoidable issue” :)

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