Terms & Conditions: Firefox’s privacy policy is big, but not scary

Firefox privacy policy explained

What are you really agreeing to when you click that fateful “agree button? Terms & Conditions cuts out the legal lingo to spell it out in plain English.

If you ask any “in the know” Web users, there are really only two browsers to choose from: Chrome or Firefox. (Yes, Internet Explorer is the most-used browser in the U.S., but that’s mostly due to its default status on the most-used operating system: Windows.) While Chrome has been on the rise, having jumped past IE as the most-used browser in the world earlier this year, Mozilla’s Firefox remains a solid third, according to StatCounter, with approximately 450 million users worldwide.

And yet, we would guess the number of people who’ve read the Firefox privacy policy is much closer to zero — which is a shame, because it’s quite well done. Let’s take a look at the few bits of info that every Firefox user should know.

Firefox Privacy Policy

Like all browsers, Firefox is literally the connection between your computer and the Internet at large. That said, Firefox is only legally responsible for a very small amount of the data that is transferred from you to the websites you visit. And it is the privacy policies and terms of service for each and every website you visit that you really need to worry about.

This is especially true because Mozilla is extremely careful to explain when and what data are transferred from your copy of Firefox to Mozilla. I really wish all companies were required to be as clear and thorough as Firefox is. The only downside to this is how long it ends up being as a result. So here is the most condensed version possible.

Data collection

Firefox itself transmits only a limited amount of data to websites (which may or may not include other tracking or data-collection mechanisms themselves). This “non-persona” and “potentially personal” data includes: IP address (which is linked to location data), device type, referring website (the site you visited before going to another site), and language preferences.

This data is simply what is conveyed to other websites. Mozilla itself “does not collect or track any Personal Information or any information about the websites you visit, and Mozilla does not release the raw information we obtain from these Firefox features to the public.”

Add-ons

Firefox automatically checks to see which add-ons you have installed as a way to keep you up-to-date on updates. If this features annoys or worries you, follow these instructions to turn it off.

Also, Firefox will check once a day to see if any of the add-ons you have installed are problematic for whatever reason (e.g. they pose a security risk). All bad add-ons end up on the Blocklist. Mozilla does not offer a simply way to turn off the Blocklist feature. But if your browser making a connection with Mozilla’s servers freaks you out, you can see how to disable it here. (Warning: Doing so is extremely complicated, and probably not worth your time.)

best-firefox-add-ons

Firefox Syn

Firefox Sync is a feature that started with Firefox 4, and has been available in every version since. As the name implies, Sync allows you to — you guessed it — sync your Firefox history, bookmarks, and other settings between different computers. Mozilla says explicitly that none of this information is transmitted in a readable format, so don’t worry about Mozilla finding out which porn websites you’ve saved. Mozilla only saves the number of bookmarks you have, and the number of websites in your history — not what they actually are.

Location-Aware

All versions of Firefox mobile include the Location-Aware feature, which allows websites to access your geographic location in order to serve you location-specific advertising and services. Firefox will ask each time if you want to share your location data when you visit a website that wants to access it. If you say no, your location remains secret.

If you do allow Location-Aware, Mozilla requires that all third-parties that access this data through Firefox keep the data out of public view. Any personal or potentially personal data (like IP address) third-parties collect may only be used to provide the service they are offering. If third parties want to use your data for something else, they have to strip all the personal data out.

Security

Firefox implements a number of highly technical security features to help keep your computer protected from the big bad Web, including checking security certificates and scanning for URLs that may contain malicious code. If Firefox does detect such a site, it will store a bit of information about the URL on your hard drive, which can then be accessed for comparison against other URLs you visit, so just heads up that that’s happening.

That said, Firefox should not be your last line of defense against viruses and phishing attacks — you’re much better off with a robust anti-virus program.

Computing

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.
Gaming

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Computing

Chromebooks are laptops, but they do things a little differently

Chromebooks are an intriguing branch of laptops that are often cheaper and faster than their Windows counterparts, but they are a little more limited. Intrigued? Here's everything you need to know about Chromebooks.
Computing

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…
Computing

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.
Computing

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.
Computing

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.
Computing

Dell slashes prices of XPS 13 and Alienware 17 laptops in latest promo

Dell's latest promotion will score you big savings on the XPS 13 or the Alienware 17. The stylish XPS 13's discount is for $430, and only the rose gold model is on sale, while gamers who choose the Alienware 17 will save $860.
Computing

Lenovo’s Yoga C930 sale drops a $650 discount on its 2TB SSD laptop

Lenovo is offering one of its 2-in-1 laptops at a $650 discount. This Lenovo Yoga C930 laptop comes with a 2TB solid-state drive, a digital pen, a fingerprint reader, and a Dolby Atmos sound bar.