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Geolocation in Firefox, Privacy & Security Concerns

Discussion about official Mozilla Firefox builds
WildcatRay

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Post Posted May 1st, 2009, 8:25 pm

I just read this and this about geolocation in Firefox 3.5 and I am concerned.

This, on the surface, appears to be an invasion of privacy and potentially a security risk. Do I now have software on my computer that, by default, can be used to provide information to someone else without my knowledge that could enable them to pinpoint my location? Why is this capability being incorporated into the base code of the browser? Why isn't the geolocation code offered only as an extension instead? Or, at the very least, shouldn't the user be prompted to accept/decline geolocation with declining meaning the code will not be installed with the rest of the browser?

It is late, so it is unlikely I will respond again before tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
Ray

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malliz
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Post Posted May 1st, 2009, 8:34 pm

Personally it's just another dinky toy they have added and not very reliable anyway. It gives my location as Melbourne. Something like 160 K away from where I am. If your worried about invasion of privacy then there are a number of ways to circumvent the "Feature".
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WildcatRay

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Post Posted May 1st, 2009, 8:53 pm

It may be true you can say "NO" (which conveniently is not stated on the FAQ page), but I do not even want to be bothered developing a list (neither white nor black). If the code ain't there, users won't be bothered by it. Is that not the way it should be? If it were by extension only, users concerned about protecting their privacy and security would not have to worry about it, let alone be nagged when going to a site that might want that information/data. [-X
Ray

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malliz
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Post Posted May 1st, 2009, 8:56 pm

:) Unfortunately the Dev's and Google seem to want this "feature" Google wants it as a way of more specifically targeting adds at you. Edit: Why the devs want it is pretty much the same thing although they say

Websites that use geolocation will ask where you are in order to bring you more relevant information, or to save you time while searching.


I agree it's a opening up a very big can or worms
What sort of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.
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a;skdjfajf;ak

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Post Posted May 2nd, 2009, 3:24 am

As malliz said, another dinky toy, that will be as popular as the 'microsummeries' were... Sites aren't offering those either.. was a geek flash-in-pan idea.

greenhatch
 
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Post Posted May 2nd, 2009, 4:49 am

is there a way to turn off this 'wonderful' new feature in my firefox 3.5? i don't want any website bugging me in the first place.
i've noticed geo.wfi.uri in about:config. will setting that to false do the trick?

WildcatRay

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Post Posted May 2nd, 2009, 6:49 am

greenhatch wrote:is there a way to turn off this 'wonderful' new feature in my firefox 3.5? i don't want any website bugging me in the first place.
i've noticed geo.wfi.uri in about:config. will setting that to false do the trick?

This is the information that at the very, very least should be prominent in the FAQ, but is not. Obviously, the devs feel that saying no when a site asks is sufficient. I do not.

What really surprises me is that the attorneys are not screaming about the potential for liability law suits against Mozilla. I cannot image that the attorneys have blessed a feature that could enable a person intent on malice to locate someone they want to direct that malice towards. Isn't this ability only available to iPhone users who purposely add the app from the App Store and not part of the base code of the iPhone?

Screw Google! It is not my problem if I refuse them IDing me so they can target me with certain ads. In fact, it is this attitude on the parts of Google, Yahell, and the rest that I feel no remorse for using Adblock Plus. Once they learn that it is better to "delight" the customer rather than anger them, the better off they will be.
Ray

OS'es: 4 computers with Win10 Pro 64-bit; Current Firefox, Beta, Nightly, Chrome, Vivaldi

Canyonero
 
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Post Posted May 2nd, 2009, 7:44 am

Isn't this just using your IP address to determine your location? If so, that information has been available to every web site you visit for quite awhile. This is just an interface on top of it, and its mostly for mobile devices where rather than using IP, you'd want to use GPS to provide much more precise information. I don't think there's a whole lot new to worry about here for desktop machines though. You've already been providing this same information to websites since the dawn of the internets.

Omega X

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Post Posted May 2nd, 2009, 12:35 pm

Littlemutt wrote:As malliz said, another dinky toy, that will be as popular as the 'microsummeries' were... Sites aren't offering those either.. was a geek flash-in-pan idea.


Microsummaries never took off because no one understood how to use them.

This Geo crap is in Opera 10 Alpha, Chrome and now Firefox.

Is there a bug filed for permanently turning it off in Options?
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the-edmeister

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Post Posted May 2nd, 2009, 3:45 pm

Canyonero wrote:Isn't this just using your IP address to determine your location? If so, that information has been available to every web site you visit for quite awhile. This is just an interface on top of it, and its mostly for mobile devices where rather than using IP, you'd want to use GPS to provide much more precise information. I don't think there's a whole lot new to worry about here for desktop machines though. You've already been providing this same information to websites since the dawn of the internets.

I suspect that it is just using the IP address. It shows me as being at the front door of the Public Service building (Police and village offices) in an adjacent community, which is one block away from my ISP's main local office, ~3 miles away from my physical location.


Ed
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Post Posted May 3rd, 2009, 3:13 am

Maybe this IS a really useful feature, but we definitely need an 'about:config' 'user preference' to turn the functionality off if required.

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sysKin

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Post Posted May 3rd, 2009, 3:33 am

It uses IP address unless more precise tools, like GPS or list of WiFi networks, are available.

The good news is that you can just ignore the prompt and nothing will be sent to anyone.

This is really useful for mobile devices only. You open google maps and its starting location is your present location.

WildcatRay

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Post Posted May 3rd, 2009, 5:47 am

If it is only "useful" in mobile devices, why even have it in Firefox? Because some geek wants it?

It should not even be in the browser code. It should be an extension ONLY, for those foolish enough to want others to know where they are. That ain't me!
Ray

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WildcatRay

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Post Posted May 3rd, 2009, 7:38 am

Omega X wrote:
Littlemutt wrote:As malliz said, another dinky toy, that will be as popular as the 'microsummeries' were... Sites aren't offering those either.. was a geek flash-in-pan idea.


Microsummaries never took off because no one understood how to use them.

This Geo crap is in Opera 10 Alpha, Chrome and now Firefox.

Is there a bug filed for permanently turning it off in Options?

I suspect such a bug or my preference of removing the geolocation code altogether would be marked WONTFIX, INVALID or similar.
Ray

OS'es: 4 computers with Win10 Pro 64-bit; Current Firefox, Beta, Nightly, Chrome, Vivaldi

Canyonero
 
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Post Posted May 3rd, 2009, 8:03 am

You can try to file a bug. Maybe provide a UI mockup that just provides an "Always do this..." checkbox. Worst case its marked WONTFX. Sometimes that can hurt your feelings, but you get over it, provide a link to a google groups or something, and try to start a discussion about how annoying a popup you'll probably never see is to you.

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