[Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

beltzner
I really don't think that's current, as it's not consistent with what their current master privacy policy states.

Ultimately, though, I think we're on the same page. I don't think there's huge risk, but the value in educating people so that they aren't surprised - at some later date - to discover that we're sending information elsewhere when they type is quite high.

(Ultimately the decision lies with the people we trust to make Firefox, and I think this thread is a fantastic example of asking for feedback and listening while not being beholden to it. Well done!)

cheers,
mike
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Monica Chew-3
As a point of comparison, on desktop there seems to be no way to disable
Google Suggest at all:

http://www.google.com/preferences

There is a radio button for enabling Google Instant based on network
connection (or not at all), but the help page on query autocomplete has
no way to disable it:

http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=106230

 From a usability perspective, turning off suggest in mobile by default
seems like a mistake. Turning it into a force-opt also has drawbacks,
since the same usability concerns in typing/interaction fatigue apply to
selecting preferences as they do to typing.

I am not sure the best solution, but it seems a combination of the above
2 factors means that mobile devices leak more information in general,
since there is strong tendency to want to streamline interaction. I
wonder if there's a user-friendly way to periodically remind the user
which 3rd parties Firefox is leaking data to, since this problem will
eventually apply to more than just Google, and at some point a force-opt
doesn't scale.

Monica
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Daniel Veditz-2
On 8/9/12 4:51 PM, Monica Chew wrote:
> As a point of comparison, on desktop there seems to be no way to
> disable Google Suggest at all:
>
> http://www.google.com/preferences

You mean on the website? Sure, but when you're on a website (any
site) that site can capture all your keystrokes whether or not it
claims it isn't doing so.

On Desktop Firefox you can turn suggestions off through a checkbox
on the "Manage Search Engines" dialog. Click on the search engine
icon in the search box, and then open the dialog from the last item
on the menu that pops up.

On desktop Firefox we default suggestions on, but searches happen in
a separate specialized search box. There's enough context there that
as suggestions show up it should be clear it's coming from the
search provider. And even if it's not clear, the user's intention of
typing in that box is to send the search term to the provider in the
end. Most importantly, URLs the user types in the "address" box
don't get sent to the search provider.

The mobile browser doesn't have space for a separate search box so
it faces issues that don't impact the Desktop Firefox in the same
way. At least not at present. Some people would prefer that we
switch to a combined "omnibar" like Chrome, and if we did then
Desktop Firefox would face this same issue.

-Dan Veditz
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Monica Chew-3
On 8/10/12 4:07 PM, Daniel Veditz wrote:
> You mean on the website? Sure, but when you're on a website (any site)
> that site can capture all your keystrokes whether or not it claims it
> isn't doing so.
True. My point was that anyone who opts into using Google Search by
visiting google.com can't opt out of Google Suggest at all.
> On Desktop Firefox you can turn suggestions off through a checkbox
> on the "Manage Search Engines" dialog. Click on the search engine
> icon in the search box, and then open the dialog from the last item
> on the menu that pops up.
Do you mean you can turn off suggestions by switching default providers?
I'd be curious what the metrics are on users who do that.
>
> On desktop Firefox we default suggestions on, but searches happen in
> a separate specialized search box. There's enough context there that
> as suggestions show up it should be clear it's coming from the
> search provider.
Why is it clear that the suggestions are coming from the search
provider, than say, the browser, or even local disk search?
> And even if it's not clear, the user's intention of
> typing in that box is to send the search term to the provider in the
> end. Most importantly, URLs the user types in the "address" box
> don't get sent to the search provider.
What's a URL vs. a search term in the context of global TLDs? (sorry if
I already missed this discussion)


On a side note, I've been thinking about ways to figure out what the
user really wants without the tyranny of dialog boxes, especially on
startup. What if, on installation, the message was "Thank you for
installing Firefox! How paranoid are you?" with a slider from 1-10. If
the user picks something high, then they're a great candidate for
cycling through all the many security and privacy related preferences.
If they pick something low, we set their defaults based on the prefs
that map to the vast majority of the userbase.

Thanks,
Monica
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Steve Wendt
In reply to this post by Monica Chew-3
On 8/10/2012 4:07 PM, Daniel Veditz wrote:

> prefer that we switch to a combined "omnibar" like Chrome

Mozilla did it first... Firefox broke it.  :-)

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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Steve Wendt
In reply to this post by Daniel Veditz-2
On 8/10/2012 4:35 PM, Monica Chew wrote:

> What if, on installation, the message was "Thank you for
> installing Firefox! How paranoid are you?" with a slider from 1-10.

Phrased like that, it makes me more suspicious/paranoid than I might
usually be.  Not to start bikeshedding, but "How highly do you value
your security and privacy?" might be better phrasing?

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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Monica Chew-3
On 8/10/12 5:03 PM, Steve Wendt wrote:
> On 8/10/2012 4:35 PM, Monica Chew wrote:
>
>> What if, on installation, the message was "Thank you for
>> installing Firefox! How paranoid are you?" with a slider from 1-10.
>
> Phrased like that, it makes me more suspicious/paranoid than I might
> usually be.  Not to start bikeshedding, but "How highly do you value
> your security and privacy?" might be better phrasing?
Sure, or even just "Would you like to configure Firefox now? This would
include choosing settings for security and privacy." If they answer yes,
you can start asking them questions like:

Who do you fear most finding out your browsing history?
- Friends and family
- Work colleagues
- Government
- Cloud services like Google

and so on... If they never pick "cloud services" then probably they
don't care about sending partial search queries to Google. Or if the do
pick it's a sign they also want DNT, or care about 3rd party cookies, or
explicitly want to set their search provider, etc. If they pick Friends
and Family we can recommend private browsing mode.

Monica
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Robert Kaiser
In reply to this post by Steve Wendt
Steve Wendt schrieb:
> On 8/10/2012 4:07 PM, Daniel Veditz wrote:
>
>> prefer that we switch to a combined "omnibar" like Chrome
>
> Mozilla did it first... Firefox broke it.  :-)

No, we never showed search suggestions in the address bar. And I won't
even go into how weak and dumb the old address bar completion was
compared to the Firefox awesomebar. ;-)

That said, starting a search from the address bar has always worked in
Firefox, AFAIK, even though that search box exists in addition.

Robert Kaiser
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Robert Kaiser
In reply to this post by Daniel Veditz-2
Monica Chew schrieb:
> On 8/10/12 4:07 PM, Daniel Veditz wrote:
>> You mean on the website? Sure, but when you're on a website (any site)
>> that site can capture all your keystrokes whether or not it claims it
>> isn't doing so.
> True. My point was that anyone who opts into using Google Search by
> visiting google.com can't opt out of Google Suggest at all.

That's something so different than showing them in the browser UI. If I
open Google's website, I apparently want Google's way of things and
don't have a problem with sending data to them (as I have sent data to
them just by opening their site).
When I open Firefox for Android, I obviously have chose an alternative
to what Google/Android provides by default, and I may not want to send
data to them about exactly every step I'm taking (I'm using and Android
device, so I'm probably OK with sending *some* data to them, though,
otherwise I'd use e.g. an N9, a Firefox OS device, or so). In any case,
I might not expect every keystroke I make being sent to Google (and my
IP address being sent to Google, therefore them being able to make some
kind of profile of me - note the technical *being able*, which doesn't
care if they have currently some kind of policy where they state they
might not do that right now).

> What if, on installation, the message was "Thank you for
> installing Firefox! How paranoid are you?" with a slider from 1-10.

I'd see it as an insult if Firefox would call me or any other user
"paranoid".


Robert Kaiser
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Daniel Veditz-2
In reply to this post by Monica Chew-3
On 8/10/12 4:35 PM, Monica Chew wrote:
> On 8/10/12 4:07 PM, Daniel Veditz wrote: My point was that anyone
> who opts into using Google Search by visiting google.com can't opt
> out of Google Suggest at all.

Which is fine if you're intending to search on google. But if you're
just using your browser and typing in the direct URL to some internal
server you may not want to be sending that URL character by character to
Google until you hit "go" and aren't even doing a search.

>> On Desktop Firefox you can turn suggestions off through a checkbox
>>  on the "Manage Search Engines" dialog. Click on the search engine
>>  icon in the search box, and then open the dialog from the last
>> item on the menu that pops up.
> Do you mean you can turn off suggestions by switching default
> providers?

No, I mean you can manage your preferences to turn off suggestions for
your current search provider, including Google.

> I'd be curious what the metrics are on users who do that.

Probably small. But as I mentioned before suggestions in a dedicated
search box does not have the same potential privacy issues.

>> There's enough context there that as suggestions show up it should
>> be clear it's coming from the search provider.
> Why is it clear that the suggestions are coming from the search
> provider, than say, the browser, or even local disk search?

You're right, it's probably not that clear, which is why there's a
potential for negative surprises when users find out.

>> And even if it's not clear, the user's intention of typing in that
>> box is to send the search term to the provider in the end. Most
>> importantly, URLs the user types in the "address" box don't get
>> sent to the search provider.
> What's a URL vs. a search term in the context of global TLDs? (sorry
> if I already missed this discussion)

A URL can have sensitive information in the path. Let's leave the global
TLD debate out of this thread -- there's enough contention there for its
own topic.

> "Thank you for installing Firefox! How paranoid are you?"

I'd rather not greet people with a suggestion that they might have a
clinical diagnosis. Or conversely (if worded more nicely) make them feel
bad for not caring when we're obviously implying that they're stupid not to.

-Dan Veditz
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Henri Sivonen
On Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 10:13 PM, Dan Veditz <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 8/10/12 4:35 PM, Monica Chew wrote:
>>
>> On 8/10/12 4:07 PM, Daniel Veditz wrote: My point was that anyone
>> who opts into using Google Search by visiting google.com can't opt
>> out of Google Suggest at all.
>
> Which is fine if you're intending to search on google. But if you're
> just using your browser and typing in the direct URL to some internal
> server you may not want to be sending that URL character by character to
> Google until you hit "go" and aren't even doing a search.

Regardless of whether the suggest feature ends up being opt-in or
opt-out, I think it should stop sending data to the search provider as
soon as the text entry looks address-ish. I.e. I think Firefox should
not send the string if it starts with something that looks like an URL
scheme or if it contains a dot or a slash (but no space) (this would
generally mean stopping the leakage after typing the first component
of the host name).

I have filed this as https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=765201

This would mean:
 * No leakage for pasted URL, because they start with http:, https: or the like.
 * No leakage of importance when the user types "www.", since sending
the data would stop at the dot.
 * Mitigated leakage (first component of the host name) when typing an
address that doesn't start with a URL scheme or "www.".
 * Mitigated leakage of intranet URLs (since sending would stop at the
slash when typing "fileserver/something" where "fileserver" is really
a dotless hostname.
 * Lack of suggestions for strings that are really intended as search
terms but have a dot or slash but no space.

--
Henri Sivonen
[hidden email]
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Johnathan Nightingale
On Aug 13, 2012, at 8:37 AM, Henri Sivonen wrote:

> I have filed this as https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=765201
>
> This would mean:
> * No leakage for pasted URL, because they start with http:, https: or the like.
> * No leakage of importance when the user types "www.", since sending
> the data would stop at the dot.
> * Mitigated leakage (first component of the host name) when typing an
> address that doesn't start with a URL scheme or "www.".
> * Mitigated leakage of intranet URLs (since sending would stop at the
> slash when typing "fileserver/something" where "fileserver" is really
> a dotless hostname.
> * Lack of suggestions for strings that are really intended as search
> terms but have a dot or slash but no space.


Yep, this all makes a ton of sense to me. It doesn't eliminate the discussion about the leakage of that first word (nor did you suggest as much), but it constrains its scope well.

J

---
Johnathan Nightingale
Sr. Director of Firefox Engineering
@johnath

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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Monica Chew-3
In reply to this post by Daniel Veditz-2
On 8/12/12 12:13 PM, Dan Veditz wrote:
> No, I mean you can manage your preferences to turn off suggestions for
> your current search provider, including Google.
Sorry for my confusion, it took me a while to find the checkbox "Show
search suggestions."
> "Thank you for installing Firefox! How paranoid are you?"
>
> I'd rather not greet people with a suggestion that they might have a
> clinical diagnosis. Or conversely (if worded more nicely) make them
> feel bad for not caring when we're obviously implying that they're
> stupid not to.
My bad for the poor word choice. Is there a way to generate privacy
preferences that reflect the user's needs while taking into account that
many people never change default settings [1][2], and giving them a way
to end the preference-choosing process at any time?

Monica

[1]
http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/09/14/do-users-change-their-settings/
[2]
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/13-million-us-facebook-users-dont-change-privacy-settings/12398
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Justin Dolske-2
In reply to this post by Madhava Enros-2
On 8/9/12 10:56 AM, Madhava Enros wrote:

> On the subject of surprise, I think it's worth pointing out that of
> the major browsers on Android (Chrome, Browser, Dolphin HD) -- all
> three do this, and in a way that makes it much less clear what
> suggestions are coming from where.

This is an important point. Certainly Chrome (which has received the
brunt of criticism about this feature) has virtually no labeling as to
where these suggestions are coming from. [On my Chrome OS X install, I
just see "Google Search" appended to the first result -- which is more
about what it _does_ than where it _comes from_.]

This makes it easy to overlook where the suggestions come from. It's
easy to just think that the browser itself is suggesting it... Which
leads to surprise when users find out what's actually happening.

Contrast that with a clear and transparent labeling along the lines of
"Google Suggests...". That makes it much more apparent _who_ is doing
the suggesting, and directly leads to "how are they able to suggest
that." At which concerned users are able may very well go looking for a
way to turn it off or change to a different provider.

[Aside: This is where it's nice that Mozilla isn't playing both the
client and server sides. If Chrome was seeking to be as transparent as
we are, they'd have to deal with the oddity that "Google Suggests..."
still leaves ambiguity as to what's happening with your input.]


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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Sid Stamm-2
On 08/13/2012 08:37 PM, Justin Dolske wrote:
> On 8/9/12 10:56 AM, Madhava Enros wrote:
>
>> On the subject of surprise, I think it's worth pointing out that of
>> the major browsers on Android (Chrome, Browser, Dolphin HD) -- all
>> three do this, and in a way that makes it much less clear what
>> suggestions are coming from where.

To be absolutely clear, just because other browsers do this does *not*
mean it's the right thing to do.  I think it's important that we're
forthcoming with our users and not sharing data with third parties
without their knowledge and consent.

I am less surprised/concerned about Chrome silently soliciting search
suggestions; if you install Chrome, it means you trust Google to some
extent.  Google phoning home to Google wouldn't be as surprising as if
they invisibly sent suggestion queries to Bing, for example.  People
installing Firefox, by contrast, trust Mozilla to a certain extent.
They may not trust Google as much and maybe they don't want Firefox
sending data to this third party without their knowledge.

> [snip]

> Contrast that with a clear and transparent labeling along the lines of
> "Google Suggests...". That makes it much more apparent _who_ is doing
> the suggesting, and directly leads to "how are they able to suggest
> that." At which concerned users are able may very well go looking for a
> way to turn it off or change to a different provider.

This is much more transparent than just showing the suggestions without
context ("Google suggests..." or "awesomebar suggests...").  We're still
sending some data to Google behind the scenes before the user can be
made aware, but this is at least more immediately discoverable.

> [Aside: This is where it's nice that Mozilla isn't playing both the
> client and server sides. If Chrome was seeking to be as transparent as
> we are, they'd have to deal with the oddity that "Google Suggests..."
> still leaves ambiguity as to what's happening with your input.]

Heh... I actually think it's a bummer we're not playing both sides.  If
the search suggestions were coming from us, the potency of surprised
anger is probably less since it would be all one party (see my comments
about trust above).  Granted, I don't think we're the right people to be
suggesting searches, unless there's some search engine project in Labs
that I don't know about.  ;-)

-Sid


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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Matt Brubeck-3
On 08/15/2012 02:30 PM, Sid Stamm wrote:
> I am less surprised/concerned about Chrome silently soliciting search
> suggestions; if you install Chrome, it means you trust Google to some
> extent.  Google phoning home to Google wouldn't be as surprising as if
> they invisibly sent suggestion queries to Bing, for example.

Chrome's suggestion feature is not tied to Google.  Chrome offers on
first-run to set the default search engine to Yahoo or Bing, and if you
choose Bing then it sends suggestion requests to bing.com.
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Steve Fink-4
In reply to this post by madhava.enros
On 08/08/2012 09:51 AM, [hidden email] wrote:

>
> Anyway - while a low-friction opt-in (i.e. "would you like search suggestions?") might seem like a reasonable compromise here, our position is that this feature is SO useful on mobile that we'd rather not introduce a speedbump at all, rather than just trying to minimize one. Again - we offer an opt-out in our browser preferences.
>

My personal opinion is that most users, myself included, are naive
enough to not realize that having instant suggestions appear necessarily
implies sending our searches to some remote 3rd party. I would actually
appreciate a low-friction opt-in *because* it informs me of that fact --
even though I would immediately select it anyway. (Which implies that
I'd also rather the text be less "want to see search suggestions?" and
more "send partial search to Google so it can provide suggestions as you
type?")

I also think it fits better with our mission and privacy policy, and
gives us privacy credibility, which is a critically important
distinguishing factor (and we don't have a huge number of those left to
kick around.) The fact that "everyone else does it" only strengthens
that argument.

(Minor side detail: for people who *don't* want to opt in, the
preference screen should make sure that "no" frees up the screen real
estate taken by the opt-in line(s).)

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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Chris Hofmann-2
On 8/15/12 2:15 PM, Steve Fink wrote:

> On 08/08/2012 09:51 AM, [hidden email] wrote:
>
>>
>> Anyway - while a low-friction opt-in (i.e. "would you like search
>> suggestions?") might seem like a reasonable compromise here, our
>> position is that this feature is SO useful on mobile that we'd rather
>> not introduce a speedbump at all, rather than just trying to minimize
>> one. Again - we offer an opt-out in our browser preferences.
>>
>
> My personal opinion is that most users, myself included, are naive
> enough to not realize that having instant suggestions appear
> necessarily implies sending our searches to some remote 3rd party. I
> would actually appreciate a low-friction opt-in *because* it informs
> me of that fact -- even though I would immediately select it anyway.
> (Which implies that I'd also rather the text be less "want to see
> search suggestions?" and more "send partial search to Google so it can
> provide suggestions as you type?")
>
> I also think it fits better with our mission and privacy policy, and
> gives us privacy credibility, which is a critically important
> distinguishing factor (and we don't have a huge number of those left
> to kick around.) The fact that "everyone else does it" only
> strengthens that argument.

A whopping 17% of our current mobile user base went the to trouble of
setting DNT.  That's almost double the rate as desktop.   So yeah, I'd
agree that privacy is an important feature our current set of mobile users.

-chofmann
>
> (Minor side detail: for people who *don't* want to opt in, the
> preference screen should make sure that "no" frees up the screen real
> estate taken by the opt-in line(s).)
>
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Ehsan Akhgari
On 12-08-15 5:21 PM, Chris Hofmann wrote:
> A whopping 17% of our current mobile user base went the to trouble of
> setting DNT.  That's almost double the rate as desktop.   So yeah, I'd
> agree that privacy is an important feature our current set of mobile users.

Out of curiosity, is that percentage based on the release channel only?

Ehsan
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Re: [Privacy Reviews]Call For Comments: Google Suggest in Android

Justin Dolske-2
In reply to this post by Sid Stamm-2
On 8/15/12 11:30 AM, Sid Stamm wrote:
 > To be absolutely clear, just because other browsers do this does *not*
 > mean it's the right thing to do.

My fault for trimming Madhava's full context, which I think was simply
saying that that it's common and accepted by users of other browsers --
and he explicitly noted that we don't make decisions based just on what
others are doing.

 > I am less surprised/concerned about Chrome silently soliciting search
 > suggestions; if you install Chrome, it means you trust Google to some
 > extent.

I'm not sure how well that argument applies here. I think that trust is
anchored in the primary premise and principles of the basic p-p-product
people are using (sorry, had a Max Headroom alliteration moment). To use
a car analogy -- because all good internet debates reduce down to cars
-- someone who buys a Ford with in-dash GPS navigation is highly
unlikely to extend that trust to Ford keeping records of their travels.
But Chrome is an oddball here -- is it a browser? Or is it part of a
tightly integrated set of Google services? I think it's somewhere in
between.

I would further posit that part of Firefox's value proposition is
finding a balance between a compelling (awesome) browser, while still
being mindful of security and privacy. We pick reasonable defaults
(which is what this discussion is about ;), and provide preferences and
add-ons for those whose concerns fall outside the norm.

Justin
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