Mozilla and Meta develop privacy preserving advertising tech IPA

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 12, 2022
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IPA, which stands for Interoperable Private Attribution, is is a new advertising technology that a team from Mozilla and Meta (ex Facebook) have developed.

IPA is designed to address the needs of advertisers and Internet users alike; this is achieved by combining advertisers with attribution data while preserving the privacy of Internet users at the same time.

The team highlights three main goals in the official proposal: privacy, utility and competition. Privacy's aim is to limit the information that IPA provides about users over time. Utility is designed to provide advertisers and websites with data that is needed to measure conversions, and competition that all utility use cases work for all advertisers.

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Our privacy goal is to limit the total amount of information IPA releases about an individual over a given period of time. We want to be able to make strong claims about the amount of information, even in the presence of an adversary that is willing to engage in fingerprinting, navigational-tracking, registering a large number of domains, or other attacks.

Our utility goal is to support all the major aggregate conversion measurement use-cases (view-through, click-through, return-on-ad-spend, conversion-lift, cross-publisher attribution), including in cases where ad impressions and ad conversions happen in different browsers or devices. While beyond the initial scope of this proposal, IPA could also be extended to support other forms of post-attribution aggregation, such as model training and other forms of sophisticated inference, which we explore in the Extensions section 6.2.

Our competition goal is to ensure all the utility use-cases listed above would function for all digital advertising players. Furthermore, we wanted to avoid designs that would create barriers to entry for new players.

Mozilla notes in a blog post on the official website that IPA has "two key privacy-preserving features". The first, Multi-Part Computation, or short MPC, prevents entities, websites, browser makers or advertisers, from learning about user behavior; this is achieved by moving interactions with advertisement on the web and conversions to servers instead of them happening on the user device.

IPA was designed to be an aggregate system. The second privacy-preserving feature ensures that results can never be linked to individual users.

The proposed technology supports cross-device and cross-browser attribution according to the proposal without sacrificing user privacy in the process.

IPA has been proposed to the Private Advertising Technology Community Group, a W3C group that has been formed to improve "advertising without compromising on privacy".

Closing Words

IPA is a proposal for now and it is uncertain if anything will come out of it. It is clear to anyone that advertising needs to reinvent itself on the Internet, just how that is going to be achieved is not clear yet. Google announced the dropping of the controversial FLoC advertising technology recently to replace it with Topics, which is controversially discussed as well.

Now You: what is your take on the proposal?

Summary
Mozilla and Meta develop privacy preserving advertising tech IPA
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Mozilla and Meta develop privacy preserving advertising tech IPA
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IPA, which stands for Interoperable Private Attribution, is is a new advertising technology that a team from Mozilla and Meta (ex Facebook) have developed.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Thorky said on February 12, 2022 at 10:35 am
    Reply

    Looks like another stillbirth by Mozilla.

    1. Dumbledalf said on February 13, 2022 at 1:03 pm
      Reply

      Firefox is a stillbirth.

      It will never be as awesome as Firefox 2.x and 3.x were, after that it has become complete garbage.

  2. ilev said on February 12, 2022 at 10:58 am
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    No need for ads at all.
    Thanks.

    1. Jonas said on February 13, 2022 at 4:42 am
      Reply

      Agree. The web was far better in the beginning, when it was completely non-commercial, mostly what today would be called “blogs” (although I never heard that term back then). There wasn’t even a .com TLD back then, and we didn’t need one. (The .com stood for “commercial” not “communications”, BTW.)

      Now all the money-grubbing business suits claim that “advertising pays for the web” or “without ads there would be no content”. This is complete self-serving baloney. Without the big-money boys, and the hordes of Eternal September idiots who follow them like sheep and clog up the internet, the non-commercial nerds who actually built the web would be much better off.

  3. Toxic said on February 12, 2022 at 11:05 am
    Reply

    Meta + Mozilla = Privacy? nice joke….let’s hear another

  4. Tom Hawack said on February 12, 2022 at 11:05 am
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    Let’s face it : advertisement is business and there is no morality in business. This means that any step taken by, or accepted by the ad industry aims not to consider an ethical perspective but to improve the famous ROI (Return on Investment). OK. But the problem is that business credo is not to scram when loosing money but as soon as earning less : profits not only must be sustained, they must be improved: always more. And this “more” means advertisement increasing like cancer and more importantly even, tracking the efficiency with user profiling : the ultimate.

    Should there be tomorrow an ad business revolution, which means less and better, and concerning the Web, NO tracking, no profiling, then, personally I’d accept a banner or two on a website, especially if I knew that 90% of the ad revenue was for the Website’s pocket, which is yet another problematic.

    So instead of brain-storming in order to find the equation that would allow the ad business to flourish more and more, why not imagine a 0.0001 percent of ethics? Less, better, respect, no tracking and accepting a lesser ROI, that’s all folks! Until then,in my case, be it in life or on the Web : ZERO tolerance for advertisement. I’ll reconsider my position the day the business reconsiders its.

    Another major point, IMO. The advertisement business is planetary, the audience will soon count for a double-digit billions. There will always be a substantial amount of consumers who accept ads and when stats get translated to gross revenue, this leaves still a lot of profit : you earn more with 10% of a billion then with 50% of a million. Well, ain’t that enough for advertisers? Nope. More, more, more is the credo. More? Don’t be surprised with those who say NO and behave accordingly.

    IPA? Laugh for a day.

    1. ULBoom said on February 12, 2022 at 3:29 pm
      Reply

      It will get considerably worse.

      Very few ads are even seen. Tech is a place to jump in, make a lifetime of income in a few months, then disappear. Morality is irrelevant, social media engagement theory works: I’d not be surprised if the vast majority of those “employed” in Tech are working for free or paying for the privilege. Today’s stale version of racketeering.

      Users are overwhelmed. Most have no idea how their devices work; poke the Like button. Ignore ads. Does this guy believe himself? Doesn’t look like it; he only wants funding:
      https://www.vice.com/en/article/akvnba/moviepass-20-wants-to-track-your-eyeballs-to-make-sure-you-watch-ads

      Meta’s a terminal disease, death by Google and Apple:
      https://www.garbageday.email/p/the-end-of-the-metaverse-hopefully

  5. allen said on February 12, 2022 at 11:09 am
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    Except… “Internet privacy” is never preserved. It’s created. You can’t preserve something that didn’t exist in the first place.

  6. U-Turn said on February 12, 2022 at 11:26 am
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    Firefox has fallen to ads and trackers company again. LibreWolf is one of the answer for this worst situation.

    1. lel said on February 12, 2022 at 3:35 pm
      Reply

      lol

    2. TelV said on February 13, 2022 at 8:25 pm
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      >LibreWolf is one of the answer for this worst situation.

      If only that were true. The first time LibreWolf is launched it phones home to the following third parties:

      132.145.233.26 = Oracle Public Cloud
      52.142.124.215 = Microsoft Corporation
      167.99.237.63 = DigitalOcean, LLC
      194.187.168.100 = QWANT-NET-2
      addons.cdn.mozilla.net
      server-13-33-240-122.hel50.r.cloudfront.net
      ec2-34-253-97-22.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com
      content-signature-2.cdn.mozilla.net
      rt4bb146-89-147.routit.net
      invidio.us
      static.213-133-100-23.clients.your-server.de

      The above info courtesy of the following site:
      https://www.unixsheikh.com/articles/choose-your-browser-carefully.html#librewolf

  7. Klaas Vaak said on February 12, 2022 at 1:24 pm
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    It is very simple: nothing that Facebook is involved in can be trusted 1 iota. So, why does Mozilla team up with a nefarious organization?

    1. Gerard said on February 12, 2022 at 1:56 pm
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      Yes, that’s my question too. Perhaps there is money involved, something Meta/Facebook has plenty of, thanks to smartphone zombies and sheeple all over the globe.

      1. Klaas Vaak said on February 12, 2022 at 6:33 pm
        Reply

        @Gerard: good point. Mozilla is still very dependent on Google, so might be looking for other funding too, or might have been pushed to do so. Whatever the reason, what Mozilla is doing is no good.

    2. ok said on February 12, 2022 at 7:20 pm
      Reply

      because Mozilla are nefarious. Only ask why if you want to be bamboozled again and again. Trapped, over-forgiving users are dosile farm stock.

      The product is served to the end-user as a badly programmed browser, while it is sold to ad-tech partners as a juicy datamining platform.

      The most complex and worked on parts are the tracking tech under the hood, Mozilla said themselves they worked on this one for months! and hid it. thats where the effort goes, like all the other times, and more to come.

    3. archie bald said on February 13, 2022 at 8:58 am
      Reply

      I used to support Mozilla, send send some no-questions-asked funds once in a while. No more.

      This is not their first worrying move but this ones makes me remove my trust entirely and forever, cut the rope. Just like the E.U or the French government and public services: they just joined Microsoft, Apple, Google and the rest of the oligarchs. Facebook fell in that rotten basket of mine in its first year of existence.

      Bye bye Mozilla; it’s been a dream I yearned to believe in.

      1. altean said on February 13, 2022 at 10:35 am
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        I don’t understand this ad tracking “new” tech hunt. Imho there is nothing better than ad based on content of the page I read. If I read page about bikes, it makes sense to show adds about bikes not about toys I already bought my daughter week ago. It feels like they just want more private data about us and ads are just excuse for that.

      2. archie bald said on February 13, 2022 at 1:30 pm
        Reply

        Give it a few years – let it sink in. It will come to you :p

  8. John G. said on February 12, 2022 at 1:42 pm
    Reply

    Fakebook and Mozaarella Firefox, what could go wrong? :]

  9. ULBoom said on February 12, 2022 at 2:46 pm
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    Feed Meta’s GibberishBot too much IPA and it projectile vomits. Glad I’m not on cleanup crew.

    This could possibly be the largest pile of BS ever created. Means even less than nothing, if that’s possible.

    Tech’s dead; ZombieTech lives!!! “Brains…brains…brains…”

  10. Mystique_r4 said on February 12, 2022 at 3:12 pm
    Reply

    “Facebook” “Meta”
    ?!?!

    Yep, I’ve heard enough here.

    Mozilla is clutching at any sort of revenue stream they can and will whore themselves out to just about anyone it seems. Meanwhile Facebook/Meta will do anything to sustain their revenue stream and bypass the conventional methods of delivering ads and monetization in order to monopolize peoples data in order to renew their BS.

    This reeks already and adds/ads a fresh layer of manure to the steaming pile that is mozilla.

  11. Tachy said on February 12, 2022 at 5:17 pm
    Reply

    Is that a ‘Double Oxymoron”? Is there such a thing?

  12. JonSnow said on February 12, 2022 at 6:52 pm
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    teaming up with Google was already too much but teaming up with Facebook/meta is the final nail to the coffin…bye bye Mozilla..I will no longer touch you.

    1. lol said on February 12, 2022 at 6:59 pm
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      Wow, they’re scared now!

  13. Anonymous said on February 12, 2022 at 7:54 pm
    Reply

    Mozilla is heading in the wrong direction for the past 5 years…

  14. Shiva said on February 12, 2022 at 7:59 pm
    Reply

    It is as if the partner and the lover come to you to discuss the betrayal and how to do it gently without hurting your feelings. And you, who are open-minded and accept the compromise, have not yet realized that you live in a world of lovers ready to use your bed directly at home without that agreement. Either way, you have to eat the soup, the only (sadly) interesting thing is to read all the tricks that are come up with.

    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Web-based-Fingerprinting-Techniques-Bernardo-Domingos/2db6fe286ddfd836b9547f9371bab5c2f94e2a12
    https://www.darkpatterns.org/
    https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/5/13/18547235/trust-smart-devices-privacy-security

    Show a dog a finger, and he wants the whole hand. In the end and also in an IoT’s context the best you can get is: ‘Dear, can you at least avoid to buy a vibrator without the wi-fi or the included App that monitors your enjoyment? Please!’.

  15. Sol Shine said on February 12, 2022 at 8:39 pm
    Reply

    I am very disappointed in Mozilla.

    Quote: ‘Our utility goal is to support all the major aggregate conversion measurement use-cases (view-through, click-through, return-on-ad-spend, conversion-lift, cross-publisher attribution), including in cases where ad impressions and ad conversions happen in different browsers or devices. While beyond the initial scope of this proposal, IPA could also be extended to support other forms of post-attribution aggregation, such as model training and other forms of sophisticated inference…’

    Quote: ‘Matching of ad interactions (source events) and conversions (trigger events) happens within a server-side secure multiparty computation (MPC), rather than on-device.’

    Quote: ‘ On-device attribution joins a source event and a trigger event on a single device, and almost entirely excludes joining events that occur on different devices. By moving the join into the MPC, it’s trivially easy to make a cross-device API. We simply need to standardize the format of the source events and trigger events generated by browsers / mobile devices. Facebook has publicly shared data about how common it is for user-journeys to span multiple user-agents and devices on the “path to conversion”.’

    This means they are going to use a cross-device API to track users even when the user is using different browsers and devices. That data is linked to a person and stored on a server owned by a adnetwork company. They then use ‘model training and other forms of sophisticated inference..’ to creat a profile of the user and then use that profile to sell ads.
    Because the profile of the user stays on their server, they call it privacy friendly.

    But they are still tracking users and storing their private data with users having little control over that.
    They can be forced to give up that data to governments, it can be hacked and leaked, or viewed by employees with enough permissions.

    Quote:’Businesses (both ad-tech vendors who facilitate selling ads, and merchants who purchase ads) will collect large batches of these encrypted source and trigger events on their servers.’

    Quote: ‘While at present we are targeting an honest but curious threat model for the helper servers, we’re hopeful that we may be able to develop an efficient protocol which would protect against a malicious helper server.’

    Instead of getting rid of online tracking for personalized ads, they are trying to find ways to do that they can claim protects users privacy. But that is PR lies. All forms of online tracking that collect and store users data wil always be a danger to the users privacy.

    Advertising without online tracking is possible, because it was done before Google and others started it.
    A website like ghacks.net has a certain theme (IT tech news) and each article has a certain subject (for example video editing software). That info can be used by ad companies to presenty ads on that article webpage, without user tracking.

    The problem is that the ad companies wants to ask their clients a higher price for placing personalized ads, because the ads are persoanlized and supposed to be more effective.
    It is about profit at the expense of users privacy.

    Online tracking should be banned, because it abuses a fundamental human right.
    But politicians care more about companies that generate money and jobs, more than they care about human rights.

    This is more evidence that Mozilla has become evil and is a hypocrit for claiming to protect users privacy.
    Sadly, I see I time when I will have to stop using it. I will check out LibreFox.

    1. lel said on February 13, 2022 at 12:35 pm
      Reply

      All these words just to shill a shitty fork lol

      1. Tom Hawack said on February 13, 2022 at 3:26 pm
        Reply

        When it’s so easy to worship or condemn without any explanation, without any argument.
        Personally I appreciate nourished comments and I tend to ignore simplistic lyricism.

      2. lel said on February 13, 2022 at 4:40 pm
        Reply

        lul

  16. Joe said on February 12, 2022 at 9:05 pm
    Reply

    Oh dear, Firefox with embedded Facebook next….it’s all gone beyond a joke these days.

  17. Neutrino said on February 12, 2022 at 9:57 pm
    Reply

    Mozilla
    Born: 2002
    Died: 2022

    Post Mortem: whatever you fight, you become!

  18. RMB said on February 13, 2022 at 5:03 am
    Reply

    Netscape FF. Mozilla: All mistakes are caused by Google! And Google is the original sin!!
    Meta FB. Markerberg: Can’t agree more!!!
    Google: ???

  19. yanta said on February 13, 2022 at 7:45 am
    Reply

    Mozilla teaming up with Facebook? They clearly have a death wish.
    Nothing about Facebook/Meta is private. What is going on? Is Facebook paying Mozilla millions to betray they few users they have left?
    Really stupid move Mozilla.
    91esr will be the last Firefox version ever installed on PCs here.
    Bye. I can’t say it’s been fun.

    1. lol said on February 13, 2022 at 12:32 pm
      Reply

      lol

  20. Peter said on February 13, 2022 at 9:29 am
    Reply

    This sounds like Mozilla is trying to go down a similar shady route as brave: putting focus on making people accept ads/tracking through a tradeoff. “Privacy-respecting advertising/tracking so YOU can support your favorite content creators.”
    >It’s just anonymous data bro… why are you so stubborn?
    >The internet has changed, you gotta keep up with the times bro
    Internet has changed at all, it’s the people on that has devolved into entitled children. As long as i pay for MY internet and MY computer, then I get to call the shots on everything goes on internet-wise.

  21. Niko said on February 13, 2022 at 10:17 am
    Reply

    Mozilla, Mozilla, shame on you Mozilla!

  22. Akina said on February 13, 2022 at 11:08 am
    Reply

    Chrome Google’s ads machine with FLoC or Topics thing, Brave’s main purpose is also serving ads and crypto thing and now Mozilla come up with this.

  23. lol said on February 13, 2022 at 12:37 pm
    Reply

    All these comments are hilarious. I’m sure nobody has understood the article.

  24. Sol Shine said on February 13, 2022 at 12:58 pm
    Reply

    12-2-2022
    Many websites with free content need ads to keep on existing.
    This can be done without abusing the users right to privacy.

    Ad companies can use content scanning to deliver customized ads on websites, instead of tracking users online.
    This means they use the theme or subject of a website and the content of articles on the website, to match the ads to the website visitor.
    The subject of the website (tech news, automobiles, food, sports, etc) and the subject of the articles the user is reading shows what interest the user has, snd gives some indication of age and gender.
    So tracking users is not needed to deliver effective targeted ads.
    Using content scanning to deliver targeted ads means no javascript for ads needs to run in the browser.
    The user clicking on a ad is thus downloading the ad content is enough andfor the ad company to know how effective the ad is.
    Less scripts being downloaded and running in the browser, saves bandwith and energy.

    But as I said before, the problem is that the ad companies want to ask their clients a higher price for placing personalized ads, because the ads are personalized and supposed to be more effective.
    It is about profit at the expense of users privacy.

    The docs show the main goal of Interoperable Private Attribution (IPA) is to track users across browsers and devices to sell ads.
    They claim it protects the users privacy, but private data of users will still be collected and stored on their servers to profile users for personalized ads.

    Quotes from the doc:
    Facebook has publicly shared data about how common it is for user-journeys to span multiple user-agents and devices on the “path to conversion”.

    While other aggregate attribution measurement proposals have proposed joining source and trigger events on-device, we propose joining these events within a secure multi-party computation. This is the key innovation of the IPA proposal.

    On-device attribution joins a source event and a trigger event on a single device, and almost entirely excludes joining events that occur on different devices. By moving the join into the MPC, it’s trivially easy to make a cross-device API.

    Our utility goal is to support all the major aggregate conversion measurement use-cases (view-through, click-through, return-on-ad-spend, conversion-lift, cross-publisher attribution), including in cases where ad impressions and ad conversions happen in different browsers or devices.

    1. Jonas said on February 14, 2022 at 5:01 am
      Reply

      “Many websites with free content need ads to keep on existing.”

      Gangsters can say “street muscle and breaking peoples’ fingers is needed for us to keep on existing.”

      Many websites don’t _need_ to keep on existing. The web was a better place, with better content quality, in the early days, before there was any advertising on the web.

  25. Anonymous said on February 13, 2022 at 3:35 pm
    Reply

    firefox has been trending in this direction since 2010 and its only going to get worse simply because mo$illa is for sale to the highest bidder. It’s refreshing to see people are starting to get it and finally ditch this browser for something new.

  26. notanon said on February 14, 2022 at 12:31 am
    Reply

    What the hell is Mozilla (who advertises itself as the “privacy” browser) partnering with Meta (along with Google, one of the 2 biggest threats to privacy on the internet)???

    I know the SJW executives at Mozilla want to muzzle the internet, but this is BRAND SUICIDE.

    I can no longer recommend Firefox to anyone.

    I would be afraid if I was a Tor user, maybe Meta is secretly tracking them (if so, it would be easy for government spying bureaus to do the same).

    Meta is evil.

    Here comes the social credit system.

  27. ShintoPlasm said on February 14, 2022 at 8:32 am
    Reply

    Words fail me.

  28. Trey said on February 14, 2022 at 9:13 am
    Reply

    Even if something like this was actually launched with the best of intentions, we all know that by day 2 it would be a bastardized mess doing the opposite of its original goal.

  29. Long_live_Netscape_Navigator said on February 14, 2022 at 11:56 am
    Reply

    Big and loud fart. Nothing will come out from this. Let’s hope that flamezilla will just continue focusing on the web browser, the only alternative to all-seeing-g stolen webkit clone. And even with controversial decisions on UI, still a very good, fast and resource optimized original web browser engine.
    Long live Netscape Navigator!

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