Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mozilla Lightbeam lets you see who's watching you online

Mozilla Lightbeam lets you see who's watching you online

Mozilla Lightbeam lets you see who's watching you online

Nowadays where almost everyone is certainly tracking and watching your data, it's refreshing to be the one doing all the watching.

Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, have released an add-on called Lightbeam that shows you which websites are tracking and monitoring you online, and how they are all connected.

The new Lightbeam lets you shine a light on how every website in the world wide web is really connected by either sharing direct connections or passing your web browsing cookies between third-party tools - including social media, advertising, web traffic analytics, or any number of other things.

To the average user it may just be an amusing (and disconcerting) look at how widely your data is being tracked and shared as you move around the web, but it can also be an extremely cool and useful tool for the web curious.

For truth, justice and all that jazz

In a press release Alex Fowler, lead privacy and public policy maker at Mozilla, said that Mozilla introduced Lightbeam because the Internet needs transparency more than ever.

"While revelations about government surveillance continue to stun people around the world," Fowler said in a release, "[There is a] diverse range of third party companies that shape so much of our online experiences today from advertising to social sharing to personalization."

Fowler goes on to explain that third parties are an integral part of the way the Internet works today, but at the same time it has eroded the public's trust.

"With the Lightbeam for Firefox add-on and open data, we're providing a valuable community research platform to raise awareness, promote analysis and, ultimately, affect change in the areas of tracking and privacy."

Breaking it all down

It would be naïve to think that Mozilla is doing all of this from the kindness of its heart especially when Chrome has eroded Firefox's lead as the global web browser. It's possible Lightroom is just another way of Mozilla pitching another feature to bring back users.

But this sort of openness has always been Mozilla's MO. If you weren't there for the original Firefox versus Internet Explorer days, Firefox was a new open-source browser that let you take control with tab add-ons (which were a novel concept back then) and all the flair of personalization features.


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//PART 2