Mozilla launches new data sharing research platform

Data, as we know, has become a valuable commodity and that has thrown the privacy and transparency aspects of what information organizations hold about us into sharp relief.

Mozilla believes that we should have more control over our data and is launching a new platform to give people more choice over what data they share and with who, and allowing them to help with research projects.

Rally is designed to work with browsers -- currently only Firefox but others will be added in future -- and allows users to contribute their browsing data to crowdfund projects to build a better internet and a better society. As part of this there's a Rally research initiative, a crowdsourced scientific effort developed in collaboration with professor Jonathan Mayer's research group at Princeton University. This will allow computer scientists, social scientists and other researchers to launch studies about the web and invite people to participate. A core focus of the initiative is to enable studies that hold major online services accountable.

"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. We are data optimists and want to change the way the data economy works for both people and day-to-day business," says Rebecca Weiss, Rally project lead. "We are excited to see how Rally can help understand some of the biggest problems of the internet and make it better."

The first study to launch is on political and COVID-19 news. Future ones will focus on other areas including news consumption and paywalls to see if there's a better model for delivering news online.

Also launching today is a WebScience toolkit that enables researchers to build standardized browser-based studies on Rally.

Rally is currently only available for Firefox users aged 19 or over in the US. You can find out more and register to take part on the Mozilla site.

Image credit: Arthimedes/ Shutterstock

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