Bonum Certa Men Certa

Facebook and Other Surveillance Capitalists Won't Save Mozilla From Google Dependence

Summary: Techrights looks deeper at (and under) the guts of the spying industry and the Surveillance Capitalists who drive it (or subsidise it); this is part of an ongoing series of investigative reports

Privacy abuses in so-called 'privacy' (or supposedly privacy-centric) services is truly out of control; it is rampant. Techrights is doing a long-term investigation into it, and it will occasionally release known and confirmed facts.



Consider the System1/Startpage scandal which we revisited some days ago. Things aren't as they seem (or marketed). "I've asked Mozilla at its subreddit if it has gotten an investment by System1," one person told us. We've actually heard from quite a few concerned people lately. It's no secret that Mozilla receives a lot of money from Google (search engine placement) and for a while it explored doing the same with Microsoft through Yahoo! -- a decision we strongly condemned at the time.

"How do people assume Mozilla is making money? It doesn't grow on trees and there are big salaries to be paid."Mozilla constantly talks about privacy; but it also endlessly uses words like "telemetry" -- a euphemism for spying that Microsoft too loves to use. How do people assume Mozilla is making money? It doesn't grow on trees and there are big salaries to be paid. Watch some of these figures (especially top-level management, as we noted back in August):

Mozilla Foundation salaries
Click or zoom in if the fonts are too fine



So what's Mozilla's corporate/financial strategy (it's a corporation, not a charity)? Sometimes one just needs to check who's being put in charge, for example:

mozilla-facebook-shepard

mozilla-facebook-lin

At the moment we're still investigating who exactly pays Mozilla and what for. It's not just about Mozilla, either. The Foundation's IRS filings are completed with all the figures one needs to understand the Foundation, but not the Corporation. The latter isn't a public company and therefore this kind of stuff isn't in the public domain.

"But these sorts of suspicions are what happens when the business model of a company depends so heavily on Surveillance Capitalists."Mozilla is careful not to blast Google 'too much'; we know why. We know who pays Mozilla, but we don't know how much. The complaints about Chrome taking much of Firefox's market share typically come from former or departing Mozilla staff, not current workers. If Mozilla's strategy is moving away from Surveillance Capitalists, then excellent. Power to you, Mozilla. But if not, then you're just swapping masters and anything said about privacy would be mostly a decoy. Your biggest asset -- and you know it -- is the large number (albeit declining) number of users and their browsing habits.

"Companies love telling us that the sole risk to one's privacy is "advertisers"; they don't talk about nations and armies that leverage data ("intelligence") for manipulation and blackmail. That would kind of freak/creep out some people."Outsourcing DNS lookups to Cloudflare (from one's ISP, which is based in one's own nation) has led to an outcry and Mozilla publicly denying (to ZDNet; Asa D. told me that himself directly) that Cloudflare was paying for this. But these sorts of suspicions are what happens when the business model of a company depends so heavily on Surveillance Capitalists. As we shall show in future parts of this series, the Surveillance Capitalists can also be banks looking to benefit some military interests. Companies love telling us that the sole risk to one's privacy is "advertisers"; they don't talk about nations and armies that leverage data ("intelligence") for manipulation and blackmail. That would kind of freak/creep out some people.

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