Mozilla: Browsers could share your interests with websites

Your web browser records everything you do on the web. It knows where you go, it knows where you’ve been, what your favorite websites are, and it likely even knows your passwords. But fortunately it doesn’t share that information with the world. At least not yet.

Mozilla, the non-profit behind Firefox, is proposing to change that. The organization wants your browser to be able to tell websites the sort of things you’re into, allowing those sites to serve up personalized content tailored just for you.

If the very idea strikes fear into your soul, don’t worry. Mozilla understands that kind of personalization needs to be handled with respect for the user, so the idea is the browser will match your browsing history to broad categories, like technology, sports and cooking. Your browsing history isn’t shared with sites you visit -- it never leaves your computer in fact -- instead the browser just tells specific sites what you like (technology, sports and cooking), and those sites can then prioritize stories which match.

This way, if you secretly quite like One Direction, you don’t have to worry about being bombarded with stories about the boyband. Instead, your browser will just tell the sites you visit that you like "music" (even though you clearly don’t).

Justin Scott, Product Manager at Mozilla Labs explains in a blog post how the suggested system would work. "As I browse around the Web, I could choose when to share those interests with specific websites for a personalized experience. Destinations like the Firefox Marketplace could recommend recipe and movie apps, even if it’s my first time visiting that site. And, as a user, I would have complete control over which of my interests are shared, and with which websites".

Mozilla has begun testing this concept with volunteer participants to "learn how they respond to the idea of sharing their interests on their own terms in order to see personalized content", and so far, Scott says, the results are promising.

At this stage it’s just a proposal, but it’s certainly an intriguing one. What do you think of the idea? Leave your comments below.

Photo Credit: murielbuzz/Shutterstock

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