04/10/2021

Mozilla

Firefox warns against Google's fingerprinting budget cap proposal

A blog article posted by the people behind the privacy-focused Firefox browser at Mozilla has taken a swipe at Google's latest proposal to limit personal data use.  Fingerprinting is a technique using existing properties within your browser, such as your screen size and what add-ons are installed. These data points are then used to create a semi-unique identifier to track you around the Web. While the individual values sound generic, the combination of these values can be unique. As Mozilla explains, "how many people are running Firefox Nightly, live in North Dakota, have an M1 Mac and a big monitor." Consequently, fingerprinting is a significant privacy threat. Google published a post on Github addressing the subject, suggesting a limit to the amount of information revealed by each piece of fingerprinting surface, along with a maximum limit to how much fingering information a site can obtain about you. The people at Firefox see the appeal of fingerprinting but warn it could be exploited and will be difficult to enforce budget caps such as those proposed by Google. The privacy budget mechanism could potentially be used for tracking itself even. Instead, Mozilla believes the best approach is to minimise easy access to fingerprinting surfaces. At the same time, browsers should block sites that employ abusive patterns the same way Firefox already does.

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