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I'm from the add-ons team at Mozilla.

We've looked into the Ant Video Player and found that it does send information about websites users visit in order to power its ranking feature displayed for each website, and also includes a unique identifier in this communication. While this does not violate our policies, we do require it to be disclosed in the privacy policy and the add-on's description. We have contacted the developer and asked them to correct this.

The developer has been in communication with us and says that they destroy all user-identifiable information from their logs, and that their privacy policy and add-on description will be updated to reflect that. They'll also show a notice about this on their first-run website.

Additionally, the AntRank feature that uses this tracking can be disabled.

Add-ons publicly available in our gallery have been reviewed for security problems, and add-ons that aren't marked as experimental have been fully reviewed for a range of other issues as described in our hosting policies. Because developers set their own privacy policies and can update them any time, it is more difficult for us to review them for compliance with their own rules. We encourage users to always read an add-on's privacy policy if one is provided and to use the Report Abuse link if anything suspicious is noticed.

You should also require that AntRank be disabled while in private browsing mode.

Private Browsing Mode is for browsing without storing information on your computer. It has nothing to do with websites tracking you; that's what the Do Not Track feature is. We do require that add-ons respect Private Browsing Mode, and our privacy team is working on a recommendation (not a requirement) that add-ons also honor the user's Do Not Track preferences.

As the person who implemented Private Browsing describes: Private Browsing aims to help you make sure that your web browsing activities don't leave any trace on your own computer. It is very important to note that Private Browsing is not a tool to keep you anonymous from websites or your ISP, or for example protect you from all kinds of spyware applications which use sophisticated techniques to intercept your online traffic. Private Browsing is only about making sure that Firefox doesn't store any data which can be used to trace your online activities, no more, no less.


You should create a policy that completely prohibits this behavior.

Not everyone has the same values as you. There's nothing inherently wrong with not caring if somebody knows where you surf, and being interested in the recommendations that their tool can provide.

Disclosure is good. Homogeneity and coercion are bad.

Exactly. From what I can tell, there's not much difference between the information ant is collecting and that that's regularly sent back to Google from Chrome, except that the latter is likely even more invasive.

And why does Google's invasion of privacy make this okay?

This is why the governments of the world need to implement do not track laws.

The very last thing we need is for the government to put more regulation on the Internet. The only thing that's kept their heavy hands from destroying things so far, is that they're also incompetent with technical issues.

I'm fine with reasonable regulation. When you have an oligopoly controlling the infrastructure, having regulations that say they can't sell preferential access to that infrastructure to other oligopolies is a good thing. The key metric of what's good for the consumer is competition, not regulation. Regulation that stifles competition is bad. Regulation that protects it is good. Regulation itself is simply a tool, and it's moral worth lies in how it's used.

Regulation that protects [competition] is good.

Not necessarily. There's no point in using regulation to preserve competition between buggy whip manufacturers. Creative destruction puts an end to many industries. And in some cases, its death throes can easily look like a market failure rather than market success.

In the end, who decides if it's a buggy whip industry? And who decides if a corporation is an oligopoly? Remember, it's likely that in any mature, regulated industry, the regulators are probably industry insiders themselves (see "Regulatory Capture", https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Regulatory_ca... ).

Your original post struck a very anti-net neutrality tone. My point was that government regulation in that area, as well as others, can protect both consumers and innovation. If we let any company merge with any other, we would soon have monopolies that stifle competition and gouge consumers.

Not all regulation is bad, just like not all effects of slavish adherence to free market ideals are good. The free market is good in aggregate, but there are many cases where government intervention is beneficial.

Very well, I suppose some people might want to be tracked like a bunch of cattle. In the event that someone does want to do this, then they should have to opt-in. The default should not be opt-out for something as invasive as this.

If Apple were caught doing this, there would be a hearing in front of congress.

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