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Firefox starts monitoring keystrokes, adding adverts to address bar

Warning.

In the address bar, Mozilla is now displaying ads disguised as Firefox contextual suggestions for US users. The company claims it introduced the feature to “fund development and optimization.”

“Beginning in Firefox version 92, you will also receive new, relevant suggestions from our trusted partners based on what you’re searching for. No new data is collected, stored, or shared to make these new recommendations,” Mozilla said. 

With the release of Firefox 93, Mozilla presented the new feature as a “faster way to navigate the web.” 

“Firefox Suggest is a new discovery feature that is built directly into the browser. Firefox Suggest acts as a trustworthy guide to the better web, surfacing relevant information and sites to help people accomplish their goals,” Mozilla said.

“Firefox Suggest will enhance this by including other sources of information such as Wikipedia, Pocket articles, reviews and credible content from sponsored, vetted partners and trusted organizations.”

For now, Mozilla’s preferred partner is adMarketplace. 

There is an option to opt-in or out of Firefox Suggest, under the Privacy & Security settings.

“Enabling search suggestions will send the keywords you type in a search field to the default search engine – unless you appear to be typing a URL or hostname,” Mozilla says.

“The data we share with partners does not include personally identifying information and is only shared when you see or click on a suggestion,” Mozilla said. The company claims to only collect search queries and suggest impressions, location, and clicks on suggestions. 

Sneaky: The “Not now” button is easy to miss so users may accidentally turn on ads without knowing.

The new feature is a way for the company to increase its revenue. Its main source of income, currently, is a deal made with Google in 2017 to make Google the default search engine in the US, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. 

Firefox says: “…we will collect only the data that we need to operate, update and improve the functionality of Firefox Suggest and the overall user experience based on our Lean Data and Data Privacy Principles. We will also continue to be transparent about our data and data collection practices as we develop this new feature.”

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