It’s no secret that companies are quietly siphoning your data whenever you go online. Mozilla believes that people should have more control over their data. That’s why it’s launching Rally, a “privacy-first” data sharing platform designed to provide users with more agency over how their data is collected, used, and shared, the company announced Friday.
“Cutting people out of decisions about their data is an inequity that harms individuals, society and the internet. We believe that you should determine who benefits from your data,” said Rebecca Weiss, Rally project lead at Mozilla, in a company blog post.
This add-on to Mozilla’s Firefox web browser allows people to donate their browsing data to computer scientists, sociologists, and other academics studying the web. This research will focus on building new resources, tools, and “potentially even policies that empower people just like you to build a better internet and fight back against exploitative tech,” according to Mozilla.
“A core focus of the initiative is enabling unprecedented studies that hold major online services accountable,” the company said.
Alongside Rally, Mozilla is also launching a toolkit called WebScience to help researchers build standardized browser-based studies on its new platform. The company says WebScience is designed to encourage data minimization, aka the practice of limiting data collection to only what is required for a specific purpose.
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Mozilla’s already partnered with Princeton University for a collaborative study to better understand how people engage with news and misinformation about politics and covid-19. At some point in the future, Stanford University’s “Beyond the Paywall” project will also examine news consumption and the economics needed to build a more sustainable ecosystem for news outlets.
Ultimately, Weiss said Rally aims to identify and understand some of the “biggest problems of the internet” with the goal of making it a better place.
Rally is only available to Firefox users in the U.S. over the age of 19, but Mozilla said it plans to roll out access to more countries and web browsers in the future.