New Mozilla App Shows Users Who is Tracking Them Online

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Mozilla has released their new add-on called Lightbeam for Firefox users that will allow users to see who is tracking them across the World Wide Web.

Alex Fowler, speaking for Mozilla, said: “While revelations about government surveillance continue to stun people around the world, there’s another area of online data collection with its own complicated transparency challenges that remains important to users. And that’s the diverse range of third party companies that shape so much of our online experiences today from advertising to social sharing to personalization. Third parties are an integral part of the way the Internet works today. However, when we’re unable to understand the value these companies provide and make informed choices about their data collection practices, the result is a steady erosion of trust for all stakeholders.”

Three different graphs available (graph, clock and list) will give third-party relationships on the Web that user’s unknowingly interact with.

Mozilla explained that “information gathered in private browsing mode will be deleted whenever Lightbeam is restarted, and is not collected at all when Lightbeam is not open.”

Clock view will give the user a real-time display of who is tracking them throughout the day.

Fowler said: “Call it a Wizard of Oz moment for the Web, where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtain see its inner-workings. With the Lightbeam for Firefox add-on and open data, we’re providing a valuable community research platform to raise awareness, promote analysis and, ultimately, affect change in the areas of tracking and privacy.”

Mark Surman, executive director for Mozilla explained that Lightbeam was meant to raise “public awareness of how their activity is tracked online. It really is a stake in the ground designed to start a conversation about privacy.”

Surman continued: “If you think about nutrition it’s taken years of policy and public education about different types of food for people to talk about a healthy diet. This is the same thing, this is saying ‘Let’s know a little bit more about what’s happening’ then we can get to discussions about what else is being tracked, to building tools to let you protect yourself, to education campaigns about how we want to protect about ourselves.”

This week the NSA website was brought down. Speculation across the internet assumes it was a directed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

A member of Anonymous claimed: So If it’s an attack coming from me, or maybe from a country? won’t say! It just looks like a start of a cyber war.”

Other tweets confirmed that the DDoS attack was carried out by Anonymous.

The NSA released a statement denying that their website was taken down by a DDoS attack; but rather down because of a “scheduled update” that caused “an internal error in the system [that] caused the problem.”

The NSA is empowered by the 2001 US Patriot Act, Sec. 215 (50 U.S.C. § 1861), that states the federal government can collect data on Americans if there is a claim of national security compromise.

The Bluffdale Utah NSA Spy Center (BUNSC), a.k.a. The Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, will be able to store either yotabytes or zetabytes of information (depending on which MSM outlet is quoted) which would necessitate 10,000 racks of servers, assuming that one rack is 10 square feet.

Under this estimation, the BUNSC could actually contain exabytes of information. This is an unprecedented amount of data. However, attention on this one facility has over-shadowed the fact that the NSA has other locations of storage space in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas – including as well Australia and Britain.

James Bamford, intelligence expert, said that the BUNSC was part of former President Bush’s “total information awareness” program. Congress put an end to this plan in 2003 when American citizens protested, citing its potential for complete invasion of their privacy.

One of Bamford’s informants told him that this “data center” would be able to break codes as a megalopolis of surveillance capabilities. “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

The NSA has become quite good at cracking complex encryptions used by financial firms, “stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications.”

Russ Tice, former NSA intelligence analyst turned whistleblower has recently revealed that the BUNSC is currently operational amid claims by the NSA to the contrary.

Tice remarked that “the recent NSA scandal only scratches the surface of a massive surveillance apparatus.”