Getting to Know Telemetry and Data Privacy at Mozilla (Non-Geeks Only)

WHILE on his travel around some parts of South East Asia, Georg Fritsche doesn’t forget to share the virtue of his organization, Mozilla. Having worked for the entity for the recent six years, the German-born geek sat down with us at Mozilla Community Space Jakarta at Tifa Building , Annex Suite, Kuningan Barat, Jakarta.

For audience familiar with data and web, what Georg exposed here is perhaps very brief and superficial. Yet, to most of people like me and some of you who mostly use computers as a tool to browse the web and process and save multiple types of content such as words, images and videos, the discussion is so technical I can’t even recall the gist of the talks. At all.

But do NOT blame it all on George, because I know how hard it is to simplify the highly complicated issue within one single meetup. I can tell you the same feeling when your grandparents demand you a simple and easily-understood explanation on questions such as “what is internet?”. Analogies may work but it also betrays you on some occasions like a pet snake. It bites you when you least expect it.

Despite all the gaps of knowledge and expertise lying so wide between us, here are several takeaways I can offer you as a complete and utter layman in the realm of internet.

  • Telemetry which is what Goerg does at Mozilla is actually a series of efforts to collect data of users conducted on daily basis. But what separates Mozilla and the others is the commitment to its mission, i.e. to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. That also means they also collect data from users but at the same time they give us as users more openness, transparency and freedom as to what they do with data and how they collect these data. Though it is set as default, any users can simply turn  it off or opt out of the telemetry by unchecking a box in the tab on Privacy. For Mozilla Firefox which I gues is the most popular product of Mozilla, to opt out of Telemetry, you type “about:preferences#privacy” in the address bar and locate “Firefox Data Collection and Use”. Uncheck the box that preceedes “Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla” as well as “Allow Firefox to install and run studies”. In brief, users have more control over their data.
  • No data of users will be sold whatsoever. This is guaranteed by Mozilla. Because privacy really matters, unlike other internet giants, user data collected by Mozilla are never about your identity, such as your name and your whereabouts.
  • There is no surprises. And by surprises, I assume it is “unsolicited” surprises that no one will be happy with.
  • Even Mozilla collects data, they limit data. They only collect  data they require to improve the performance of products. Mozilla, said Georg, doesn’t collect data that are deemed unnecessary and too private by nature. It makes sense because the company doesn’t sell data and make profits of them.

As the discussion went deeper, I came to the conclusion that Mozilla products collect our data, too, just like other products on the web. The difference is you know your data is in the right hand. Not in the greasy hands of ‘big brothers’ who abuse and exploit you for their own interests once they get tired of spoiling you with great ease and comfort of exchanging information and data.

For further study, kindly visit https://telemetry.mozilla.org (if you can read and interpret the data displayed there). In case you are curious, click about:telemetry. But if you already give up, tweet Georg at @georgfritsche or @moztelemetry. Good luck! (*/)

 

4 Benefits of Volunteering at Mozilla Community Space

Just a brief caveat, I’m not going to say anything here about the free-flow snacks and drinks and free internet connection available at anytime (though they’re two of the benefits to lure more people into coming more often and spend nights there).

Here I give you four of so many benefits of volunteering as a keyholder at Mozilla Community Space.

BETTER MENTAL HEALTH

Certainly Mozilla Community Space is no place to go to cure your mental disorder or illness but I’m serious about this. According to Harvard Health Publishing (a publishing section of Harvard Medical School), people who volunteer have a better mental health condition. Stephanie Watson of Harvard Women’s Health Watch elaborates on this point, saying:

Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. (source: healthharvard.edu)

It’s an inconceivable benefit that I’m sure everyone wants to reap from volunteering for any social causes, including Mozilla which is a non-profit organization.

In Mozilla Community Space, you’ll meet not only friends you’re already familiar with but also an endless supply of new acquaintances who can bring you a lot of new perspectives in life.

LONGER HEALTH SPAN

It’s useless to live a long life but bedridden, too il to wake up and enjoy the world and all things in it. That’s why I pick the ‘health span’ term instead of ‘life span’.

Great news for you who are too worried about your physical health, and most specifically your blood pressure. Now, you can get less dependent on your anti-hypertension medication by spending more time to volunteer in Mozilla Community Space.

More on this, read on below:

Those who had volunteered at least 200 hr in the 12 months prior to baseline were less likely to develop hypertension (OR = 0.60; 95% CI [0.40, 0.90]) than nonvolunteers. There was no association between volunteerism and hypertension risk at lower levels of volunteer participation. Volunteering at least 200 hr was also associated with greater increases in psychological well-being (source: here).

BUILD WIDER NETWORKS

If you’re under 40 years old like me, volunteering does nothing to boost your wellbeing but hey, let me tell you that the benefit is not always about health. Volunteering can be impactful even if you’re a lot younger, especially when it comes to networking. Volunteering at young age  especially allows you to get exposed to people and worlds outside of your comfort zone. For young people, that comfort zone may be your school, your family and immediate relatives maybe. But if you volunteer, you’ll discover so many unknown worlds other than people you’ve known since your childhood.

In Mozilla Community Space, I can meet with younger people, lots of them actually (I’m the eldest newly-appointed keyholder). And seeing these youths who are as old as my younger siblings pretty much gives me a great deal of youthful spirit. Besides, more acquaintances means more opportunities in fact.

ADD MEANING TO LIFE

Life is a lot more boring if you only focus on your personal life goals. You want this and that and when you have it all, only you can enjoy it. Life can be more meaningful than that by volunteering your time and energy to a specific cause you prefer.

So what’s my cause?

Freedom!

For the sake of freedom in the virtual world, I want to be more actively involved in Mozilla Indonesia.

Why Mozilla?

Because nowadays our freedom as internet users have been ‘robbed’ by all tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. We are made to trade our privacy and private details with convenience, a bait too tempting to refuse. They shape our lives and our future as human civilization, too. So we need an alternative which is free from business, commercial interests.

The keyword is FREEDOM.

Freedom to make choices, whether we willingly swap our privacy for convenience or hold tightly that last shred of privacy and explore the web without being herded like a bunch of dumb sheeps and being fed by grass decided by algorithms.  (*/)