The Collusion add-on is an official Mozilla product, and was unveiled at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference this week by Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs.It creates a ‘web’ showing web users exactly which advertising firms are watching as they browse.
At present ‘Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox which allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web,’ Mozilla said. ‘It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.’ ‘Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data,’ said Kovacs.
Mozilla aims to build up a database of the worst offenders – and make the data available to privacy campaigners. ‘When we launch the full version of Collusion, it will allow you to opt-in to sharing your anonymous data in a global database of web tracker data,’ says the company. ‘We’ll combine all that information and make it available to help researchers, journalists, and others analyze and explain how data is tracked on the web.
Data from 60 of Google’s services will be shared meaning Google account users, owners of Android phones and YouTube viewers will be subjected to even more intrusive ‘personalised’ adverts from now on. Worried users are trading guides about how to protect sensitive private data such as search histories and the content of emails from Google’s new all-encompassing advertising profiles. Mail Online’s guide can be found here.
The EU’s data protection authorities asked French regulator CNIL to investigate the new policy in January.
‘Our preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection,’ CNIL said in a letter to Google Chief Executive Larry Page, which was posted on CNIL’s website this week. The new policy makes it easier for Google to combine the data of one person using different services such as the search engine, YouTube or Gmail if he is logged into his Google account.
That allows Google to create a broader profile of that user and target advertising based on that person’s interests and search history more accurately. Advertising is the main way Google makes its money.
CNIL said data protection authorities in the EU ‘are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services,’ adding they had ‘strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing.’ Vivian Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner who oversees the bloc’s data protection rules, said she welcomed CNIL’s letter and called on Google to delay its new policy. Google argues that combining the data into one profile makes search results more relevant and allows a user to cross-navigate between different services more easily. It says the main purpose of the new policy is to combine the more than 70 different rules for Google’s wide-ranging services into one that is simpler and more readable. The policy change has horrified privacy advocates and bloggers – tech site ZDNet said that Google would ‘know more about you than your wife does’ and said the policy was ‘Big Brother-ish’.
‘If you’re signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries – or tailor your search results – based on the interests you’ve expressed in Google Plus, Gmail and YouTube,’ Google said a new overview page for its privacy policies. ‘We’ll better understand (what) you’re searching for and get you those results faster.’