Firefox adding personalised, sponsored search suggestions • The Register

Mozilla is testing a personalized ad in Firefox Suggest, along with sponsored search results, with users saying it “helps fund Firefox development.”

Firefox Suggest was first introduced last month in Firefox 92, charged as “a new detection feature that is built directly into the browser.”

The feature provides links as custom types in the search bar, which can be based on local browsing history, bookmarks and open tabs, or “sponsored suggestions from verified partners.” At present, consumers outside the United States see only these indisputable local prompts.

Firefox Suggest a data stream showing how data is now flowing to Mozilla and its partners, as well as to the search engine

Firefox Suggest a data stream showing how data is now flowing to Mozilla and its partners, as well as to the search engine

Firefox 93, released earlier this week, adds a new dimension to the Suggest feature called contextual suggestions. In this case, when the user clicks on a link, additional data is sent to the advertiser, mainly location data according to explanation.

The company said the location was obtained from the customer’s IP address and converted to a “more general location” by Mozilla before being sent to an advertising partner. “The data we share with partners does not include personal information and is only shared when you see or click on a proposal,” Mozilla said.

Pay attention to the careful wording “when you see or click”. Seeing something is different from clicking on it, but it is difficult to understand how the feature can work unless it works before the user sees it. If the user clicks on a connection, the target of the connection will see the user’s IP number for himself. Mozilla is also collecting notice that the proposed link has been clicked.

Again, only a “limited number of US users” will receive this feature initially. Users will be prompted with a dialog box inviting them to “allow suggestions” before the feature is activated. The dialog box is an example of a dark model, with three options, one highlighted to encourage a reflex click, one discouraging gray to customize the settings, and a small “Not Now” link slipped up to the right.

Users see this consent dialog - note Not now hidden from view

Users see this consent dialog – notice “Not now” hidden from view

Although the contextual proposal feature requires this inclusion, sponsored proposals are included by default – the difference is in the data that is sent to the partners providing the proposals. Firefox says its “preferred partner” for sponsored results is a company called adMarketplace, which claims to be a “consumer market safe for privacy”.

Firefox and Mozilla’s performance are important to the web community, as it is an independent browser with its own engine, unlike most others that use the Google-sponsored Chromium engine. These sponsored links feel uncomfortable with Mozilla’s claim of privacy advocates – but like many other open source companies, Mozilla is in a position where it cannot charge directly for its products, so it is looking for other means to generate revenue. . Much of his revenue comes from Google, which pays as the main search engine in Firefox.

Other new features in Firefox 93 include block downloads over unencrypted links, although users will see an option to allow downloads (again in a discouraging gray).

There are also new ones privacy features including SmartBlock 3.0, which Mozilla says has “significantly improved support” for Google Analytics script spoofing to work around the problem of sites blocking content for users who can’t track. There is also better protection against HTTP referent headers that send too much information, and blocking downloads in frames marked as sandboxes.

Windows Firefox gets a new feature to automatically unload partitions when memory is “critically low.” Unloaded tabs will be reloaded when the user switches to them. The idea is to reduce Firefox crashes out of memory.

The full list of what’s new in Firefox 93 is here. ®