Tags: mozilla | online | data | tracking

Mozilla Launches Tool That Reveals Online Data Tracking

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 02:30 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Mozilla, the company that operates the popular Firefox web browser, has released Lightbeam, a download that will allow web users to understand how they are being tracked and watched online.

According to Mozilla, Lightbeam promises a "Wizard of Oz" moment for the web, "where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings," reports the Independent.

Mozilla Executive Director Mark Surman told the newspaper, "It's a stake in the ground in terms of letting people know the ways they are being tracked. At Mozilla, we believe everyone should be in control of their user data and privacy and we want people to make informed decisions about their web experience."

Lightbeam's release comes ahead of Mozilla's annual UK Mozfest this weekend, a three-day brain-storming session in London attended by 1,300 web enthusiasts from around the world.

Users who activate it will be able to see a real-time visualization of every site they visit and every third party that is active on those sites.

The add-on presents the data that's fed back back to the user in three interactive forms, Graph, Clock, and List, according to Wired.

The Graph view shows users a visualization of every site they visit and all of the third party requests made from their browser; The Clock view lets users examine connections over a 24-hour period, and the List view provides users with more options for zooming in on individual sites.

Everyone who downloads Lightbeam will be contributing to a central open database providing a big picture view how first and third party sites are connected to each other, although the information will be aggregated anonymously.

Lightbeam's release also comes ahead of "Stop Watching Us," a "rally against mass surveillance," that will be held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

It has been organized as a response to revelations about the National Security Agency's secret data collection and surveillance programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, reports CNET.

Speakers are expected to include former NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake, GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, and former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

Related stories:
Mozilla Petition Asks NSA to 'Stop Watching Us'
Firefox Redesign: Will Australis Bring Mozilla Back to Browser Prominence?

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