Mozilla Unveils Lightbeam Advertising Tracking Service

Ever since the FBI exploited their javascript to bring down a swath of randomized Tor users last month, Mozilla has been on the warpath to make its web browser one of the most secure options available on the market today. Continuing in that same thread, the design team has officially announced their newest tool in the fight for privacy: Lightbeam. Proposed originally back in 2008, the program enables you to view all connections being made to your machine by advertisers and site trackers who are linked up to your profile, usually through the trail of cookies and cached data that get left behind during an average everyday browsing session.

Lightbeam will give users the opportunity to witness a realtime visual map of how their data is being collected, distributed, and sold around the net. Any usernames, passwords, emails, or Google searches that get entered into the browser are immediately tagged upon delivery, giving them a sort of GPS-style tracking device that blinks back each time their personal information hits another node in the chain. Lightbeam will illuminate the movements of both advertisers and any third-party companies who might also be involved in the constantly growing and consistently profitable data racket. Mozilla has promised a “Wizard of Oz” moment for the web with this most recent release:

“It will be an ecosystem where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings,” Mozilla claimed. “It’s a stake in the ground in terms of letting people know the ways they are being tracked. At Mozilla, we believe everyone should be in control of their user data and privacy and we want people to make informed decisions about their Web experience.”

Supposedly it’s moves like this that have prompted political pressure from various trade bodies around the world, many of which depend on services like these trackers to sustain their business models and continue to procure a profit off of selling private information to marketing groups abroad.

The browser company was also clear that while users would have the opportunity to see who was looking at them, none of their information would double back to be logged, uploaded, or shared with anyone except those in control of the application-specific password.

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