Mozilla Unveils (Possibly Futile) Tool That Lets You Request That Data Brokers Delete Your Data

from the pay-for-privacy dept

Every few weeks for the last fifteen years there’s been a massive scandal involving some company, telecom, data broker, or app maker over-collecting your detailed personal location data, failing to secure it, then selling access to that information to any nitwit with a nickel. And despite the added risks this creates in the post-Roe era, we’ve still done little to pass a real privacy law or rein in reckless data brokers.

The reason we don’t do that is because Congress is grotesquely, comically corrupt, something that often doesn’t seem to warrant a mention in most news coverage of the problem.

Enter Mozilla, which is trying to monetize the data broker problem with a new $9 a month privacy monitoring service dubbed Mozilla Monitor Plus. According to Mozilla, the new service will scour the web for your personal information at over 190 sites where brokers sell information they’ve gathered from online sources like social media sites, apps, and browser trackers.

The product is basically an extension of the company’s existing (free) Mozilla Monitor service that scours the web for compromised accounts. Based on this Verge article, it sounds like the product basically rebrands services from Onerep, a company that basically does the same thing. From the Mozilla Blog:

“When we launched Monitor, our goal was to help people discover where their personal info may have been exposed. Now, with Monitor Plus, we’ll help people take back their exposed data from data broker sites that are trying to sell it,” said Tony Amaral-Cinotto, Product Manager of Mozilla Monitor at Mozilla.”

Mozilla does great work on privacy issues (their recent report on the abysmal state of vehicle cybersecurity is essential reading). And I imagine that applying their trusted brand name onto such a service helps consumers find a useful tool in a sea of cybersecurity snake oil salesmen.

That said, it’s fairly pathetic that this is only necessary because Congress is too corrupt to regulate data brokers. And the data broker industry is so massive (and massively convoluted by design), I’m not entirely sure that tools like this even begin to get to all the dodgy repositories where consumer data (and detailed consumer profiles based on that data) now reside. Including most world governments.

Actually fixing our obvious consumer privacy and security problems requires new laws and competent regulators with actual teeth, something the United States clearly isn’t interested in. In the interim, I guess paying for something vaguely resembling personal privacy is the best you can hope for.

Filed Under: data brokers, privacy, security

Companies: mozilla

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