Mozilla Introduces Browser Add-on To Fight Google's New Spying Policy

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Most people don't like reading long privacy policy descriptions online. Understandable. But if you were one of the few individuals who actually clicked that annoying little pop-up link that Google has been throwing in everyone's face for the last few weeks, then you got a glimpse at the future of corporate espionage.

Clearly the folks at Mozilla, makers of the popular Firefox web browser, clicked that link.

Here's what we know: Google brings in about $28 billion in advertising revenue. The new changes to its privacy policy are designed to push that figure even higher by providing corporate advertisers with increased access to your web browsing habits. The bold move comes amidst widespread concern that corporate data harvesting has gotten way out of hand and may even be illegal in some countries.

In response to Google's latest spying (some would say "tracking") efforts, Mozilla has unveiled a new add-on that provides web surfers the ability to see which companies are recording their browsing history.

The new add-on is called Collusion and allows users to fight back, in a sense. Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs says the software is designed to "pull back the curtain" on advertising firms and companies that track the public's online activity.

While Collusion won't stop the spying, it will at least give users a view of who is watching their clicks across the Internet.

"Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web," said Mozilla in an official press release. "It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers."

Mozilla has stated that its long-term goal is to construct a database of the worst spying offenders. That database would then be available to the public and could be used to shape buying habits and mount potential boycotts.

Collusion's debut was well-timed to coincide with increased international pushback against Google's plans to stream consumer data from web browsers and smart phones straight to corporate Adsense clients. A coalition of consumer groups from across Europe and the U.S. sent a letter to the web giant this week asking that it rethink the controversial new policy that the coalition described as "unfair and unwise."

Google responded to the criticism in a blog post saying, "Our privacy policies have always allowed us to combine information from different products with your account - effectively using your data to provide you with better service. However, we've been restricted in our ability to combine your YouTube and Search histories with other information in your account."

However the clash of the internet titans ultimately plays out, it seems clear now that Google may be in danger of violating their self-imposed first commandment to "Never be evil." If public perception turns on them, Mozilla is well positioned to don the mantle of consumer advocate and become the premiere defender of web privacy.