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Mozilla takes on web data miners with privacy icon release

Now, how to convince websites to adopt the damn things?

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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.

Mozilla privacy icons

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.” ®

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