Mozilla takes on web data miners with privacy icon release
Now, how to convince websites to adopt the damn things?
Mozilla has pushed out a series of privacy icons that tell web surfers how their online data might be used depending on what site they've visited.
The open source browser maker's user interface design guru, Aza Raskin, who announced just last week that he was leaving Mozilla in January, released an alpha version of the icons yesterday.
"Think about the large number of sites which vehemently promise to never share your email address when you sign up for their service or mailing list. Those are the kinds of sites, which make up a significant fraction of the web, that would adopt Privacy Icons," explained Raskin on his blog.
He wants the Firefox icons to work as a "bolt on" to existing privacy policies held on individual websites.
Mine the gap
But convincing online data miners that sell their information to advertisers, for example, to sign up to use the icons on their sites could prove a major stumbling block to adoption, Raskin conceded.
“If Privacy Icons become widely adopted... then the correlation of good companies using the icons and bad companies not using the icons becomes rather strong. The absence of Privacy Icons becomes a warning flag for when you go to sign up for new service.” ®
If, like me, you have your own domain and wildcarded email (e.g. google apps mail) then it's always an idea to register with sites like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, facebook@mydomaincom, etc
Then if spam comes to firstname.lastname@example.org you know who sold your email addy.
What's to stop someone using the icon, and still using your data anyway?
- Block all third party cookies
- Install Ablock Plus with Easy List and Easy Privacy
- Install Ghostery / No Script / TACO depending on how paranoid you are
Or just clear your cookies after every sesssion.
... is having your own domain.
That way, when XYZsite wants an e-mail address you can create an e-mail address at XYZsite@mydomain.co.uk so if you subsequently get spam it makes it blatantly obvious who has been profligate with your details.