back to article German Firefox users to test recommendation engine 'a bit like thought-reading'

Mozilla has decided to experiment on its German users by opting-in around one per cent of them to a search recommendations service that slurps their browsing histories. The recommendations will come from Cliqz GmbH, an outfit in which Mozilla has made a “strategic investment”. Cliqz says its browser offers optimal privacy but …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Missing poll answer

    - I've already buggered off to Firefox ESR.

    1. Updraft102

      Re: Missing poll answer

      Firefox ESR will catch up with the stupid soon enough. June 2018, Firefox 52 ESR ends, and then you're stuck with 59, with all of the stupid changes they will add for three more versions. It's a stop-gap at best.

      A better bet is Waterfox, which is a lot like FF ESR, only without the expiration date. The telemetry is all removed; it's not even an option you can turn on or off. NPAPI is still there if you need it, and the addons still work like they do now.

      If not that, then there's Pale Moon, which forked from FF before Australis was inflicted, so Classic Theme Restorer really isn't necessary. It's faster and more stable than ever, but it doesn't support e10s and probably never will, so that's why I am using Waterfox now.

      Still, as far as the poll, there definitely needs to be an option for "I am moving, or have moved, to a Firefox dertivative, such as FF ESR, WF, PM." I could not answer the poll, as there was no suitable choice.

      1. frank ly
        Happy

        Re: Missing poll answer

        I usually use Palemoon but I've just got Waterfox running on my Debian 9 and Linux Mint 18.2 installations. It looks good and imported all my bookmarks and plugins from the Firefox profile. It's faster too.

        Thank you !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Missing poll answer

          Waterfox ok on W7 64bit. According to the blurb it seems it doesn't support W7 32bit.

          Only glitch was that it thought the FF session that was open was a Waterfox. Held held up the install until FF was closed. Copied all the FF bookmarks and "pop-up" exceptions ok. Creates its own copy of data separate from FF.

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: Missing poll answer

            For a long while, gmail moaned about palemoon being an old version of firefox but appeared to work OK. However, it's now started to fail : it seems to miss some sort of timeout or callback such that it doesn't save changes back to the email server, and then complains that unsaved data exists. Sometimes you can get around this by refreshing the page and sometimes you just have to start again.

            Slack also refuses to work with palemoon. But that's easily fixed by not using Slack.

          2. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Missing poll answer

            Is WaterFox usably stable yet then? It used to make the firefox alpha versions look rock solid last time I tried it.

            1. Updraft102

              Re: Missing poll answer

              "Is WaterFox usably stable yet then? It used to make the firefox alpha versions look rock solid last time I tried it."

              I've never seen that myself, but I haven't been using Waterfox for that long. I used it before Mozilla had an official 64-bit version of Firefox on Windows, and I tired of the constant crashing that actual Firefox was doing all of the time, apparently because of contiguous memory issues. When Mozilla came out with the beta for FF x64, I tried that and found it to be excellent, so I moved to that simply because it was a more recent version of the FF base (more security fixes, etc) and it worked just as well as Waterfox. The FF x64 beta was more stable than the x86 official release from the very first day the beta was available, for me at least.

              I used Firefox x64 (in beta or eventually release form) from that point until quite recently, when the growing annoyance with Mozilla (and the upcoming addon armageddon) gave me the impulse to switch back. It's been just as stable and responsive as FF x64, with no crashing or hanging at all.

              Mozilla has shown that they don't want to listen to those of us who don't want the powerful addons removed, but fortunately, FF is open source, and when an open-source project loses the plot, as they often do, forks are bound to happen. In this case, it's an existing fork that was created for another reason initially, but it fits what we need perfectly. Hopefully it will continue to be so going forward-- I would hate to contemplate having to decide between using an out of date browser version and using one that has a terrible UI that can't be fixed.

              Waterfox had some kind of a deal with Ecosia for search (I had never heard of it before seeing it in WF), but now apparently that's changed to Yahoo. I've actually been using that lately and I have been pleasantly surprised by it... I was always a user of Altavista since it first appeared (before Google). I liked it and used it through the acquisition of Altavista by Yahoo, but one day the search results just began to be terrible. I noticed that on the bottom of the search page it said "powered by Bing," so I did some reading, and found out Yahoo had dropped their own search in favor of a partnership with Bing-- and it made things a lot worse. That was when I finally switched to Google. I'd never really used it before then.

              Google was OK, but over the years, it has gotten really much worse at finding what I need. Reverse image searches that used to properly identify a given celebrity now come back as "female" or "arm" or "human," or other similar things equally worthless, and the more common text searches often return a lot of irrelevant crap. Not only that, but when I try to exclude certain results by negating the search term, it sometimes returns them anyway, and when I try to enter an exact phrase in quotation marks, it still finds bits and pieces of the phrase rather than the whole thing as entered.

              I was trying in vain to find a given part number for a laptop part the other day in Google, and in frustration, I tried searching in the other search options in Waterfox... DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, StartPage, and Yahoo. Yahoo in particular stood out; it found what I needed on the first try, where Google had failed. That's when I noticed that it doesn't say "powered by Bing" anymore, and when I searched that specific topic, I found out that Yahoo and Microsoft have apparently gone their separate ways. Is Yahoo using the Altavista search technology they acquired all those years ago once again? It does have that feel-- and I like it. It's the default search again, for the time being anyway.

              Google's gotten so bad that it's hard to find anything anymore, now that they are apparently more focused on trying to prevent search engine optimization without paying them than trying to return relevant results to the user, and it requires deliberate countermeasures to prevent tracking. I have Google screaming at me multiple times a day that a "new" device has signed into my account, since it can't find its cookies, which is deliberate on my part. I sign in just before doing anything that uses a Google sign-in, like posting this reply, then clear the cookies once again as soon as I am finished. I don't search while the cookies are present (while I am signed in), nor do I use any other Google service while signed in. My IP address is dynamic, so it changes once a day at least, so it's at least a little harder to track me than Google would prefer.

              I've sent feedback to them about the stupidity of me receiving so many "security alerts" spams that if there was ever a real issue, I'd never be able to see it for all of the false alarms. Of course, then I am explaining to Google why I clear cookies so much, and the answer is "because you're Google," which is not likely to strike them as a good reason-- if my feedback, one among what is surely millions, is ever actually read anyway, which seems doubtful. By a human, at least; I know that all the stuff you do with Google is being read and analyzed by a machine.

              1. Kiwi
                Pint

                Re: Missing poll answer

                've sent feedback to them about the stupidity of me receiving so many "security alerts" spams that if there was ever a real issue, I'd never be able to see it for all of the false alarms.

                I find it quite silly that. If I sign into my account from a new device Google sends a warning email. To the same account. Said warning email showing at the top of the page.

                If I was some nefarious bastard up to nefarious things, first thing I'd do is kill the warning message. Victim would never see it.

                (That said, Google only has the account, no "rescue" email and no phone # etc.. Maybe if you have one of those set up gmail spamssends a warning to them?)

              2. Updraft102

                Re: Missing poll answer

                It looks like I was wrong about Yahoo... I saw that it does indeed still say "Powered by Bing." I guess the improvement I saw was fine tuning of the Bing engine, or else my evaluation represented too small a sample size, and that I will discover in time that Google is still better. As for the article I read that said that Yahoo and Bing were on the outs... I have no idea about that. I guess they patched it up!

                I don't trust MS OR Google, really. MS is more sneaky and underhanded, but Google has far deeper tentacles across the web to grab one's information.

          3. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Waterfox (was: Missing poll answer)

            Thanks for the pointer. I hadn't come across Waterfox, and was looking for an alternative when NoScript stopped working properly in the most recent Firefox update [1]. I looked again at Vivaldi, which is nice in a lot of ways, but their script blocker didn't seem to have the functionality of NoScript, and the killer is that they don't support nested bookmark folders. Heck, I've got bookmarks nested five and six deep. I just grabbed the Waterfox binary package from https://www.waterfoxproject.org/blog/waterfox-55.0-release-download, and it has imported all my Firefox settings, and seems perfectly stable, though the console is full of Javascript warnings!

            Thanks again. Enjoy a pint!

            [1] Scripts were being blocked, but the UI to control NoScript was missing, and the extension was labelled "Legacy" :-(

            1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Waterfox (was: Missing poll answer)

              Self-reply, but hopefully useful. In order to make some of the extensions that I use work, I had to uncheck the option in about:preferences, General, Enable multi-process Waterfox. YMMV.

            2. gypsythief

              Re: "I looked again at Vivaldi..."

              @ Jonathan Richards 1

              "...but their script blocker didn't seem to have the functionality of NoScript"

              Vivaldi does not supply a script blocker. However, being based on Chromium gives you have access to the Chrome Web Store for extensions, including many different script blockers. I use uBlock Origin for script blocking (you need to enable Advanced Mode) which I personally find just as powerful as No Script, but I do accept that No Script is considered the pre-eminant script blocker.

              "and the killer is that they don't support nested bookmark folders. Heck, I've got bookmarks nested five and six deep"

              I'm not sure what happened with your nesting, but if you see the linked screenshot, you'll see I've nested them 8 deep, with no sign of not being able to go further.

              Screenshot of nested bookmark folders in Vivaldi:

              https://i.imgur.com/rQecsYJ.png

          4. davidp231

            Re: Missing poll answer

            "Waterfox ok on W7 64bit. According to the blurb it seems it doesn't support W7 32bit."

            Most likely because Waterfox is a 64bit application.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Missing poll answer

            "Waterfox ok on W7 64bit."

            Spoke too soon. After less than a day's light use it hung completely and could only be abandoned with Task Manager. When restarted it complained it couldn't find its data files - possibly the abandoned task was still holding on to them. It now starts again ok. The hang up seemed similar to recent Firefox misbehaviours.

            1. Updraft102

              Re: Missing poll answer

              If Firefox has a given issue that makes it unstable, it's probably in Waterfox too. Waterfox is almost completely Mozilla code, with just a handful of changes. For now, anyway. The more the two diverge in time, the more likely they are to have separate issues that don't exist in the other.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Missing poll answer

        Firefox ESR will catch up with the stupid soon enough. June 2018, Firefox 52 ESR ends, and then you're stuck with 59, with all of the stupid changes they will add for three more versions. It's a stop-gap at best.

        Not to worry, by then the planet will be a pile of smouldering rubble.

      3. beep54

        Re: Missing poll answer

        @updraaft102 Will have to check out Waterfox again.. Loving Pale Moon. Firefox,, sadly, sucks now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Screenshot Beta embedded into Firefox, records Audio?

      I recently thought I'd picked up malware, when I saw the Screenshot Beta icon on my toolbar, with no previous mention of it, 53.04 I think I first saw it.

      Embedding Beta code that takes screenshots directly into a browser that upload directly to the cloud? That's what extensions are for Mozilla, so users have a choice.

      This has to have been paid by 'you know who', to be embedded into the actual code, Mozilla's new way of generating income. So indirect 'backdoors' are OK, Mozilla? i.e. have all the code there within the browser to take screenshots, record sound, upload to the cloud, remotely but without directly enabling an exploit.

      Also, searching About:Config, why is screenshot tag:

      devtools.screenshot.audio.enabled ;true

      Why does this record audio, if it's a screenshot extension.

      You can disable screenshot using:

      extensions.screenshots.disabled ;true

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Screenshot Beta embedded into Firefox, records Audio?

        It's apparently been brought across from the developer version of Firefox and tarted up.

        I'm not sure why they get rid of Tab Groups saying metrics say nobody uses it, then they put this in which probably even fewer people will use.

      2. Tom Paine

        Re: Screenshot Beta embedded into Firefox, records Audio?

        Dude, if you don't want to take screenshots, maybe don't take screenshots? Seems fairly straightforward to me...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Screenshot Beta embedded into Firefox, records Audio?

          How about keeping Screenshot/Audio recording as an installable extension?, then there is a real choice and there can be no situations/no code within the actual browser code where this get enabled either by malware or exploit 'by mistake'. It's called ring fencing.

          This is an indirect backdoor for Amber Rudd types. It's so fcuking obvious, talk about putting things in plain sight, to make things appear innocuous.

          If I need a screenshot/record audio, I'll install an extension to do that, how about that? Now that seems fairly straighforward to me, not embedding this sort of code directly into a browser. Mozilla is asking for trouble doing this, but as said, maybe that's the point.

    3. davidp231

      Re: Missing poll answer

      Second missing poll answer: Like normal people, I navigate to a search engine to look stuff up - the address bar is for typing in URLs, nothing more.

    4. beep54

      Re: Missing poll answer

      I've already buggered off to Pale Moon and am mostly very happy about it.

  2. big_D Silver badge

    Illegal

    Under German DP rules, opting somebody into such a service is illegal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Illegal

      "Under German DP rules...."

      Yup, I've seen some of those videos.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Illegal

      I suspected it might be. My first thought on this scheme was "WTF? In Germany? Really?"

      I suppose the logic might be to go for the highest mountain first and if successful all the rest will be a walk in the park.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Illegal

        Well it's either that, best test in Germany, or everyone at Mozilla has decided to commit professional suicide. Thinking about it, probably both.

        Palemoon user here since it was first mooted. 64-bit was a thing for me then as it is now. Chrome's also installed and gets all the social media/brain-dead sites on one program leaving Palemoon for serious things.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Illegal

          "Chrome's also installed and gets all the social media/brain-dead sites on one program [...]"

          On my browsing PC I keep Chrome for BBC iPlayer - which insists on me having to log in.

          I can then read the BBC news on FF or WF without the BBC iPlayer login tracking which articles are being viewed. I do not like being tracked across different sites - even if it is intended to "improve the experience".

          On my development machine I use Chrome for a Selenium web trawling application - and that needs a Facebook login. That is never logged in on my browsing PC.

          At this rate it is going to be a PC (or VM) for each type of use.

    3. Nattrash

      Re: Illegal

      I agree - I know that the "loud" people from the Land Of The Free™ always want "to share" the stipulations in their constitution. With that in mind it might be good if they then took also a look at the constitution of another country, like in this case Germany..?

      Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz, GG)

      http://germanlawarchive.iuscomp.org/?p=212

      Just for fun, take a look at Article 10... O dear... Getting the popcorn...

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Poxz on both of their houses

    Did I spell it right? According to the current tendency to feck up perfectly fine English Spelling so it looks like something out of Gansta Rap speak?

    Just to say it again. POXz on BOTH OF THEIR HOUSES.

    1. Lysenko

      Re: Poxz on both of their houses

      Just "Pox", or "plague" in the original. It's from Romeo & Juliet. Distinguishing between (small) pox and (bubonic) plague wasn't necessary for the imagery to work so "pox" became popular as it was the more common disease.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poxz on both of their houses

        "[...] so "pox" became popular as it was the more common disease."

        Didn't "pox" also tend to become a contextual reference to STIs?

        1. Lysenko

          Re: Poxz on both of their houses

          Yes, syphilis specifically, however in the mid-16th century that was not yet a common disease. Shakespeare's audience would have understood smallpox as the intended reference, though it works just as well if you assume "French pox" (syphilis).

  4. conscience
    Stop

    Sounds like one to avoid to me. Enough people are spying on us as it is!

  5. quxinot

    Sheesh.

    Dear Mozilla:

    Please make a fast, lightweight, modular browser, distinct from the others on the market currently. This will improve your market share.

    Thanks,

    The entire world

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      There's not much money in that though.

      There might have been if they'd stuck to their guns with Firefox OS for TVs.

      Perhaps they could push a tip jar, either teaming up with one (or more) or making their own. They could scrape a small commission, and it would do something about the stranglehold that advertising has on the web.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      @quxinot : The way Firefox took over from Mozilla, you mean ? Shame they didn't learn that lesson and just started stuffing Firefox with unnecessary features instead.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Shame they didn't learn that lesson and just started stuffing Firefox with unnecessary features instead."

        You mean the product that became Seamonkey. That's my preferred option - all the bits I want in one box. I just keep Firefox around for the occasional job when I need a site that doesn't work with everything firmly bolted down in the way I have Seamonkey set up. And there are very few that pass the "need" threshold.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing option

    I'm fine it with if there's a switch to disable it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing option

      I'm fine it with if there's a switch to disable it.

      That basically means you're NOT OK with it, or you would not want that switch :).

      I am against this - this is the ever returning itch to monetise a large user base. I would only consider that if the people who decided that would openly publish the data gathered from themselves for the last half year or so. That is about as likely to happen as me agreeing to "share" my personal browsing habits, benign as they are*.

      * No, seriously, but -for example- if you start looking up gun details after yet-another-massacre and get swept into a series of Youtube videos about those guns, it can be used later as evidence that you are "obviously into guns", and so it is with your entire search history. Selective use of "evidence" ripped out of context is standard fare these days, coupled with the fact that you're usually manoeuvred into a position where you're prevented from giving that context. Beware of statistics (and personal details) in the hands of those who know how to abuse them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing option

        Whatever evil Mozilla is able to do with what they collect is dwarfed by what Google does. Anyone complaining about this who ever uses Chrome has no leg to stand on here.

        Am I happy that Mozilla is doing this? No, I'm not, but I realize they need to find ways to make money to keep developing their browser and provide the only real alternative to Chrome Linux users like me. This is hardly the only browser default that I'd change, so as long as they let me shut it off like I said I'm fine with it. The alternative of a Firefox-free world completely dominated by Chrome is far far far worse.

  7. Czrly

    Bookmark Lock-In!

    So I'm more or less tied to Firefox because I use bookmarks and those seem to have fallen out of fashion with the other browsers. Even with extensions, there's just no substitute for the Firefox bookmarks sidebar.

    Please! If I am wrong, tell me where to look for an open-source, secure and standards-compliant browser which supports both Adblock Plus and a proper bookmark experience. Honestly, those are the only two features that I want from a browser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bookmark Lock-In!

      So I'm more or less tied to Firefox because I use bookmarks and those seem to have fallen out of fashion with the other browsers

      Huh? Bookmarks feature in Firefox, Safari, Opera and Vivaldi and can be easily imported and exported to each. Don't know about Edge or Internet Exploder (don't use them), but the rest handle bookmarks just fine.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Bookmark Lock-In!

        Vivaldi, at least, won't handle nested bookmark folders. Key user requirement, for me.

    2. King Jack
      Facepalm

      Re: Bookmark Lock-In!

      @Czrly as mentioned above, Waterfox. It is just like Firefox without the bullshit. Everything works. All your old expired addons work. All your book marks work. You get timely updates with all the spyware removed. Try it.

  8. LDS Silver badge

    I would uninstall Mozilla a second after I saw this happening.

    One reason to use Mozilla is exactly to avoid the slurping Chrome and Edge do. Nobody really believe data will be truly anonymized - even if it was really possible. Moreover truly relevant suggestion would require to build a thoroughly user profile - and still it won't understand when I'm going to look for something different.

    I'm really tired of all those startups the just promise more and better data analytics - it's just BS but they know they will find some gullible company that will buy them.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Stupid

    Really they don't get it do they?

    We don't need a clone of Chrome / Google.

    I even turn off all search / guessing etc in URL box and use search without guess ahead.

    I also use 52 ESR, Classic Theme Restorer, a user agent switcher (because of idiot sites that hide downloads based on your OS) and NoScript.

    Mozilla are neither developing what people think they want, nor what would be useful.

  10. Smoking Man

    How to shoot yourself in the foot.

    That's what Mozilla tries to find out.

    To date, FF has some 24% of marketshare in Germany, whereas worldwide it's about 12%.

    Chrome at 32% (de) compared to 60% (ww).

    How to fix?

    P**s off German users, picky about privacy and things that get installed automatically behind the scenes, let's see if we manage to further decrease marketshare.

    Dropped FF, working on Opera right now, a slim and (in comparison) amazingly fast browser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to shoot yourself in the foot.

      You are picky about privacy yet happy to use the now Chinese Opera browser?

      Beijing will have already slurped all your data by the time you react in panic to my comment and uninstall that piece of “malware”...not an accusation of Opera, just my personal opinion that someone may have done to it as they did to CCleaner, or worse.

      1. Orv

        Re: How to shoot yourself in the foot.

        Man, if you're worried about China, then nothing electronic is safe anymore. Our potential attack surface from them is huge.

        OTOH, if you're not in a position sensitive to industrial espionage, there's an argument to be made that at least data China gathers is unlikely to be given to the NSA. (Though they could conceivably intercept it in transit, I supppose.)

  11. Bronek Kozicki
    Big Brother

    Big deal

    Frankly, this is what Chrome have been doing for years, without opt-in. I understand that Firefox had actively asked users' consent (that's what "opt-in" implied) before enabling this feature for them, which makes them better than Chrome.

    The icon because that's the way we live now, in case you thought otherwise.

    1. Orv

      Re: Big deal

      The use of passive voice in the article ("opting in 1% of them") suggested to me that this was actually opt-out for that group of users.

  12. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Thought reading ?

    "This feels a bit like thought-reading. No other browser can do that."

    But it's not thought-reading, is it ? If it were, I might use it.

    Actually it's an extension of a shopping site's 'other people who bought this item looked at these', and we all know how hopelessly useless those are. I'm not 'other people'. I want the search engine and browser to search for what I asked, not guess something else. Or constantly present me with a flashing, moving heap of text to distract me.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get real Mozilla! There are more important things to fix:

    #1. ALWAYS accept 3rd party Cookies is the default when allowing cookies. Why do that, what's wrong with NEVER as a default? Can't think of any website that insists on explicit 3rd-Party-Cookies anymore to work (if they do dump them immediately). Where's the advantage to the End-User here, unless Mass-Tracking & Slurp is the goal... WTF Mozilla?

    #2. Firefox has made it tricky for novices to toggle JavaScript / Images etc, while simultaneously adding useless nag screens like 'Refreshing Firefox' etc. But why??? Its the justification in threads by developers too, that says people working there are so out of touch with users and what's actually helpful. That wasn't always the case, so what changed?

    #3. I'd like to see 'about:config.javascript' etc shortcuts for toggling JavaScript etc. Having to Type 'pt.e' as a shortcut seems dumb. Same goes for toggling images etc. like having to set dom.image.srcset.enabled to FALSE after every install to block image loads, WTF???

    1. AndyS

      Re: Get real Mozilla! There are more important things to fix:

      I would humbly suggest that blocking all images is such an unusual install case that changing an obscure setting as a one-off after install is, in fact, perfectly acceptable.

      1. Orv

        Re: Get real Mozilla! There are more important things to fix:

        The old "block images" feature was handy when I was on a 28.8 kbps modem, but I haven't really used it since. The only place I insist on blocking images now is in email, due to the information they leak. (Just preview the message and now a potential adversary can have your IP and the time you read the message.)

      2. Updraft102

        Re: Get real Mozilla! There are more important things to fix:

        "I would humbly suggest that blocking all images is such an unusual install case that changing an obscure setting as a one-off after install is, in fact, perfectly acceptable."

        There almost certainly exist addons for every such thing like this. Such extensibility, and the ability for addons to do powerful things like reshape the browser UI to suit the user's needs, is at the core of what FF has always been about.

        Mozilla has been making Firefox worse for years with changes like this, but it's always been possible to reverse the many Mozilla blunders with addons. The original vision of Firefox, then called Phoenix (as opposed to the main product at the time, Mozilla Suite, now called Seamonkey) was to have a fast, light, lean core product that only had the features everyone would want, with the more obscure stuff pushed to addons.

        That's why none of the dumb decisions Mozilla has made over the years (and there have been a lot) have mattered as much as they might in another browser. It's also why the abandonment of the powerful Firefox addons in favor of the much less capable Chrome-style Webextensions annoys so many of us-- they keep making these dumb decisions, which was bad enough, but now one of those bad decisions is to remove the ability for us to undo some of their other bad decisions.

        I used to use the "ask before accepting a cookie" setting ages ago (and not just for third-party ones), but even then it quickly became tiresome. Instead, I let every site set whatever cookies it wants, and an addon (Self-Destructing Cookies) will delete them as soon as that tab is closed. I have another addon to delete cookies on demand, if I don't want to close the tab just yet. Now, of course, the "ask before accepting" code is long gone, but IMO I have something better now anyway. Blocking cookies to sites I didn't trust (most of them!) was problematic, as many of them failed to work properly in that configuration. It's a much cleaner setup to let the site believe it gets to do whatever it wants, then simply remove the cookie when whatever I am doing is finished.

        I am not sure if addons like that will continue to be available in "new" Firefox. I won't be trying it, so I guess it is merely academic. My guess, though, is that this will be one of the things that will work with the new setup. Webextensions can do some of what "legacy" addons can do, but not all of it, specifically not permitting changes to the disastrous post-28 Firefox UI. It would seem that the ability to remove cookies would be within the scope of what the less powerful addons can do.

        1. Nattrash

          Re: Get real Mozilla! There are more important things to fix:

          No images (Or scripts? Or css? Or XHR? Or frames? Or media...)

          Easy, get uMatrix (the old HTTP Switchboard) by Raymond Hill, who also made uBlock Origin...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Add-ons vs. 'Javascript Website Exceptions'

            Add-ons aren't the answer either, not if your work machine is locked-down, or there's many devices at home you're responsible for. Add-ons come with toxic baggage too, especially if the hosting site / distrib mechanism gets hacked etc.

            Instead why not add 'Website Exceptions' to Firefox.... We have this for Cookies. Why not extend that to Include JavaScript and Image 'Website Exception Lists' too (like Chrome offers)...???

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What makes this different from google?

    If I start looking for mops it's just going to direct me to the company that paid for it's mop to appear in my suggestion.

    No Thanks, I prefer to pick my own mop.

  15. Teiwaz

    The internet is now like a foreign country.

    One of those places where children and insistent people trail around after you, trying to sell you things every time you go out and about.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The internet is now like a foreign country.

      It’s worse than that. It’s like some Banana republic where you get kidnapped and held for a large ransom.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Vote in the poll or hit the comments"

    Why not both?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Obviously as this is an IT site you can, it's not an xor.

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    IME the best approach for recommendations would be to take whatever the current algorithm decides to recommend and give it a strong negative weight so it gets removed from sight.

    1. illuminatus

      OR

      just don't give the dumb algorithm any more of your data and ignore it?

  18. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Lemme get this right

    Mozilla will soon track what you look at today, yesterday and last week, in the vague hope that you will have forgotten what you were looking at and offer you more of the same, almost the same or a bit similar, in the vague expectation you will find it interesting.

    So, pretty much similar to the banal crap one gets from mindlessly ad-tainted Google "intelligent" search results which are anything but intelligent (We saw you searching for such-and-such and here are some ads for things our marketing idiots tell us are a bit like it) plus Google's and Amazon's mindless advertising (look for a widget and get pursued round the web by idiots assuming you want more widgets and widget-ish things).

    I thought Firefox was popular because you could nail on AdBlock, UBlock Origin, Ghostery, NoScript etc., specifically to prevent this kind of crap, crass presumption. It doesn't take a mindreader (Mozilla's or otherwise) to work that out, shirley.

    What would a search for "coffin nail" now return?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lemme get this right

      First result!

      Best 20+ Coffin nails ideas on Pinterest | Acrylic nails, Coffin nail ...

      https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/coffin-nails/

      Primarily results about womens nail shapes/styles/colours. 5th result and onwards included links about smoking mixed in with more results about fingernail fashion.

      A cursory glance over the results seems to indicate that a squared off fingernal trim is now called a "coffin nail" for some strange reason. They don't look coffin shaped. Probably a result of US hipsters to label everything with a "new" name to show how "hip" and different they are.

  19. Uffish

    Whatever happened to reality?

    Time was that binary was a two state affair, now it is variable and depends on an algorithm.

  20. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    Ah yes, that reminds me. Must donate some more cash to Pale Moon.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they read Sutter Cane?

    What I like about FF is that I can restrict things to an extent where I have to keep another browser around in case I want the web to look all shiny and pretty but everything relevant will still work, more or less. I see it as a collection of nice, big planks that I can nail against the door to keep the lovecraftian horrors out. Now if they come around with this stuff (Cliqz is Burda Media AKA „we own everything") it means they are pushing the nails out of my planks and things get all wormy and tentacly. So no. Just no.

    1. Updraft102

      Re: Do they read Sutter Cane?

      "What I like about FF is that I can restrict things to an extent where I have to keep another browser around in case I want the web to look all shiny and pretty but everything relevant will still work, more or less."

      I have Waterfox set to ask which profile I want to use on startup... I have one that has minimal addons for things like that. If it's just a quick test to see why things don't seem to be working, there's always the safe mode option under Help.

      The only thing I keep an actual other browser around for is my bank web site, which still uses (!) Java code for an essential function, which Mozilla has glibly decided is not important for me to do anymore. I'd like to dump Java as much as the next person, and for everything other than my bank, I did so long ago... but still, it's up to me, not Mozilla, whether I take the risk of using Java in this day and age.

      Waterfox is 64-bit only, and unlike FF, it does still allow the Java plugin (and all other NPAPI plugins), though you also still have the choice to not allow them to run. When I tried it with the bank, it complained that I was using the 64-bit plugin, and it wanted the 32-bit one (Firefox never allowed Java in the 64-bit edition, as far as I know), and when I selected the option to try anyway, the applet failed to run.

      So out comes Firefox ESR 32-bit, which now is dedicated to bank duty and isn't allowed to access any other URLs that are not related to banking. Unless my bank itself serves malware, I don't imagine it will be an issue, and if they do... well, then the bank itself is compromised, and that's bad even if I don't try to use Java.

  22. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Is this Phorm under a different name?

  23. pip25
    Unhappy

    Makes me glad I switched to Pale Moon already

    After the insanity around XUL addons and WebExtensions I didn't think this can get much worse, but Mozilla managed to surprise me once more. Really, I can't decide whether I'm furious or just plain sad. Probably both.

  24. spacecadet66

    This is going to go over poorly

    Mainly because they picked the worst possible country to run their experiment in. Germans tend to be very, very touchy about privacy.

    1. GrumpenKraut
      Devil

      Re: This is going to go over poorly

      > Germans tend to be very, very touchy about privacy.

      Yarp.

      Germans ----------------->

  25. Justin Clift

    Mozilla BugReport about the problem

    Someone has created a bug report on the Mozilla issue tracker, asking for this to be stopped.

    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1406647

    Please log in (can be done using a GitHub account if you're feeling lazy :> ), and vote (under "Details") for this.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    huh?

    firefox already does this with google and/or any search engines you added to the browser.

  27. Paper

    As long as there's an off switch...

    I don't mind, as long as I can opt out. If Firefox want to be transparent they should ask if you want to opt in.

  28. Paper

    Not opt-in

    To clarify, it's not opt-in: https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/74n0b2/mozilla_ships_cliqz_experiment_in_germany_for_1/?st=j8vr4eok&sh=c2249c3e

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