On Sun, Nov 16, 2014 at 3:54 PM, Nikos Roussos <comzeradd@fedoraproject.org> wrote:
On 11/16/2014 08:24 PM, Christopher wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 16, 2014 at 6:46 AM, Mustafa Muhammad
> <mustafaa.alhamdaani@gmail.com <mailto:mustafaa.alhamdaani@gmail.com>>
> wrote:
>     On Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 4:25 PM, Lars Seipel <lars.seipel@gmail.com
>     <mailto:lars.seipel@gmail.com>> wrote:
>     > So Mozilla has recently gone live with its advertisement tiles on the
>     > "New Tab" page. Only newly created profiles get to see this stuff.
>     >
>     > On a pristine F21 install using Gnome, when first launching Firefox,
>     > users are presented with a number of tiles, depending on screen size.
>     > One of those is a so-called "sponsored" tile chosen from a range of
>     > available advertisements (e.g. for booking.com
>     <http://booking.com>, there's also one for the
>     > Snowden movie), apparently depending on geographical location.
>     >
>     > When this "feature" got originally announced[1], there was a
>     discussion
>     > on -devel if this kind of stuff is really appropriate for Fedora.
>     >
>     > Some time later Mozilla seemed to have canceled the feature, quoting
>     > "That’s not going to happen. That’s not who we are at Mozilla." as one
>     > of the reasons[2].
>     >
>     > Apparently, they (again) reconsidered, pushing the feature to
>     nightlies
>     > a few months ago. Well, it now hit the stable branch and, therefore,
>     > Fedora.
>     >
>     > This is how Mozilla pitches the feature to advertisers[3]:
>     >
>     >> To support ad personalization, Mozilla created an internal data
>     system
>     >> that aggregates user information while stripping out personally
>     >> identifiable information. Mozilla can track impressions, clicks,
>     and the
>     >> number of ads a user hides or pins. Its advertising partners are also
>     >> privy to that data.
>     >
>     > Personally, I don't think that showing advertisements on the free
>     > software desktop is appropriate. Our users are supposed to be able to
>     > fully trust our software. That's one of our most-often touted
>     strenghts.
>     > I don't think the ability to "track impressions, clicks, and the
>     number
>     > of ads a user hides or pins" is something that is compatible with
>     that,
>     > regardless of this data being tied to "personally identifiable
>     > information" or not.
>     >
>     > Firefox's behaviour is probably nothing extraordinary on the other
>     > platforms Mozilla is targeting. Compared to the prevalent attitude of
>     > proprietary vendors, especially on mobile, it doesn't sound that bad
>     > anymore. I don't think that's a suitable scale for Fedora, though.
>     >
>     > From a user perspective, it's not that hard to disable the
>     feature. Upon
>     > first seeing that page a tooltip is shown to hint at the possibility.
>     > Users can choose between three modes, "Enhanced", "Classic" and
>     "Blank".
>     > Contrary to what is stated in the Mozilla kb[4], the only one that
>     > actually disables the ads is "Blank", which is equal to setting
>     the new
>     > tab page to about:blank.
>     >
>     > What does the community think of it? Is it okay for our flagship
>     > applications to carry ads and report tracking data?
>     >
>     > [1]
>     >
>     https://blog.mozilla.org/advancingcontent/2014/02/11/publisher-transformation-with-users-at-the-center/
>     > [2]
>     >
>     https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2014/05/09/new-tab-experiments/
>     > [3]
>     >
>     http://www.adexchanger.com/online-advertising/mozilla-finally-releases-its-browser-ad-product-hints-at-programmatic-in-2015/
>     > [4]
>     >
>     https://support.mozilla.org/de/kb/how-do-tiles-work-firefox#w_enhanced-tiles
>     > --
>     > devel mailing list
>     > devel@lists.fedoraproject.org <mailto:devel@lists.fedoraproject.org>
>     > https://admin.fedoraproject.org/mailman/listinfo/devel
>     > Fedora Code of Conduct: http://fedoraproject.org/code-of-conduct
>     The "ads" are not intrusive, they don't collect personally
>     identifiable data, and can be disabled with a selection from a button
>     on the start page!
>     See:
>     http://www.pcworld.com/article/2848017/how-to-get-rid-of-firefoxs-new-ads-on-the-new-tab-page.html
>     I think the best way is to ship Firefox as is, if somebody doesn't
>     want to help the open source project generating some revenue using
>     these ads, he can disable them.
> The framing of the concerns expressed here as people not wanting to
> contribute back and help an open source project with revenue (through
> this mechanism or otherwise), does not reflect the concerns raised. The
> concerns raised are that the default configuration is an "opt-out" vs.
> "opt-in" model of Firefox issuing network calls back to Mozilla's
> servers, and Fedora's user base expects "opt-in" for these sorts of
> things. It's not about not being willing to help the project out... it's
> about not being able to vet that method of helping out prior to it
> taking place.
>     When you use Google search engine in any browser, it is collecting
>     more data than this feature in Firefox.
> This doesn't seem relevant to this discussion, unless Fedora browsers
> are automatically, and without the user's explicit knowledge or
> permission, navigating to Google's search engine, which (AFAICT) they
> are not.

Same happens with these tiles. No data is sent back to Mozilla unless
you *choose* to click one of the promoted tiles.

First, that's not quite true. Firefox does a call home first, where Mozilla will then determine your location from your IP (and possibly other data presented to them in the future), in order to present you with ads. As I understand it, it will do this the first time you open a new tab, before you even navigate to any site (such as about:config).

Second, a user can easily accidentally click on ad, since it is mixed among other tiles, with the user's browsing habits. A user may recognize their error pretty quickly, but the damage will have already been done, as their data will have already been sent. Even if a user intentionally clicks on one of these tiled ads, this is a new kind of ad for a large user base... and expectations about the implications of clicking on a user's privacy are not yet established. A user who intentionally clicks on these may not be willing to accept these implications. Hence, the preference for an informed "opt-in" (or at the very least, an early, loud opportunity to "opt-out"... but that's hard to do in Fedora packaging if it's not already in upstream).

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