Firefox, Cliqz, secrecy, spyware, and surveillance capitalism


I know that Aral has long lobbied against Firefox as a better alternative to Chrome because of Mozilla’s having taken hundreds of millions of dollars from Google & Yahoo, but it appears in addition to things like SHIELD, Mozilla is now planning to include Cliqz (as OPT-OUT) in the default installation of Firefox for some (their claims are ~1% of) German customers.

You can view Firefox engineers discussing including Cliqz here.

Why does this matter?
Cliqz describes their mission as:

“to redesign the Internet for the user by combining the power of data, browser, and search. In Munich, more than 100 experts from over 30 countries develop browsers and browser extensions with integrated search engines to bring users to their destination in the most direct way while protecting their privacy. Cliqz quick search works with its own independent web index, powered by the company’s Human Web technology.”

The majority owner of Cliqz (of which Mozilla is a minority investor) is Hubert Burda Media, HBM owns media brands like Bunte, Superillu, Chip, and Playboy, and most problematically, offers installers that are used to distribute malware. See here: German or English.

If you’re interested in reading more about this, there are ongoing discussions on Reddit, including in this thread which has subsequently been locked.


I met a representative of Cliqz a couple of weeks ago at the Data Ethics conference. He kept trying to position Cliqz’s ad blocker as being similar to Better, but we couldn’t be further apart. Their business model is monetising the data. They said they anonymise the data they sell, but as we know, anonymisation usually isn’t.

(And thanks for sharing, @cd!)