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I wonder about Mozilla's strategies for two key challenges:

1) The greatest challenge for Tracking Protection seems to me to be not technical, but strategic: How do you protect users from tracking without creating a backlash from the tracking industry and their customers (the whole Internet economy built on tracking) that will make the outcome worse or no better, and after an expensive battle. As an extreme example, if the next release of Firefox cut off tracking for all its users then I think there would be a war, including possibly lawsuits and an arms race between trackers and tracking protection. The users would be no better off (or worse off) and it would consume Mozilla's resources.

2) How do they plan to protect the great majority of users who lack the knowledge and skill to understand tracking protection? Remember that most users barely know they are being tracked, much less what that means or how it's done. Many users I deal with don't know the URL field from the search box on their home page; they don't understand what a web browser, web page, or remote server are, much less their components, requests, JavaScript, etc. They lack even the framework to begin understanding tracking. Most other end users I know would be overwhelmed by the concept and extra hassle to load a page. Also, how will most users understand why the webpage is malfunctioning, of all the possible reasons, and what to do about it? Maybe they'll think Firefox is simply broken. Maybe this is why Tracking Protection is available only in Private Browsing right now, and hidden behind a small, somewhat obscure icon (if I understand correctly); maybe that's a way of limiting it to more technically skilled users. Providing tracking protection to technical users has been done, via Ghostery, Disconnect, etc. I'd like to see it become available to everyone else. (That's not a criticism of Mozilla - this is a great, precedent-setting step forward, establishing that major browser vendors might block tracking and act in user interests over industry's, and hopefully creating some competition in that area.)

Maybe the first step is to raise awareness of tracking and the idea that users benefit from and should have the option for privacy, which can be done by simply telling users about Tracking Protection when they open Firefox after the update, whether or not they actually use it.




"How do you protect users from tracking without creating a backlash from the tracking industry and their customers?"

I don't see this as a concern for Mozilla. Google/Apple/Microsoft and their respective browsers sure, but the point of Firefox is to provide a browser whose goals align with the user. The industry's goals here have never aligned with users and it's about time (many, many years too late) that a major browser vendor ships this as part of the browser rather than an addon.


I agree about Mozilla's principles, but my point is that if there is a backlash they will have done something that is good in principle but which doesn't actually make the situation better for users. They'll end up with just as much tracking (but using different tech), more broken websites, etc.


>I don't see this as a concern for Mozilla.

They make a lot of money from people who rely on advertising like Yahoo and Yandex.


This is a fair question as, correct me if I'm wrong, but they still make a significant chunk of revenue from the search partner programs. If they were to cause a significant impact in that trackability, I imagine those negotiations would be a lot less favorable for Mozilla.

Pure speculation though.


Hurting alternative revenue streams for somebody you're negotiating with can help to increase the leverage you hold.

For example, if you're trying to sell tickets to your ski resort, it wouldn't necessarily hurt your bargaining position to burn down gyms, bicycle shops, and other places that command your prospective customers' time and money.


Both of those challenges are a big factor in why it's only turned on in private browsing mode. Just shipping it even in this limited form is a big deal.


Nicholas - Yes, it's definitely a big deal. And I can only imagine the potential costs of supporting users and keeping it updated! Thank you to all of Mozilla and especially the team that put this together.




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