all 14 comments

[–]StalwartJames 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

When using it, it must be used as a debug extension.

[–]d3rr 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (6 children)

Here's the most I could find regarding a Dissenter response. This whole thing is really strange.

[–]SuperConductiveRabbi 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

I had wanted the badge notification feature (which shows the number of comments on a URL) and searched around to see if anyone had brought it up before, and they had. It turns out that before Dissenter got popular the owner had said they'll never make that feature, as it requires a pingback on every URL to determine if people left any comments. (How else could it work?) He pointed out the obvious privacy implications of telling the Dissenter servers every URL that you're visiting.

Dissenter then became popular and tons of people requested that feature, and it looks like they implemented it, against their previous judgment. Now it seems Firefox has flagged it for being an invasion of privacy, even if you can disable the feature.

[–]wizzwizz4[S] 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

They should have made it opt-in, not opt-out. It's a great feature, and really cool… but it also has privacy implications.

People who want it enough to ask for it want it enough to turn on a setting. But people who don't want it wouldn't be asking to not have it. The update silently turns a nice, secure, private extension into a piece of spyware.

[–]SuperConductiveRabbi 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Certainly agreed. It makes me think this is just a big misstep, and hopefully they'll fix it and the extension will continue to gain in popularity. It's a pretty fantastic thing to have on the web.

[–]wizzwizz4[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

I think they just messed up.

Although… it's almost as though they're hiding opacity behind the illusion of transparency that open source (a necessity of being on Firefox's extension platform) provides…

Personally, I'd be inclined to suggest that they just messed up, but paranoid scepticism has its merits sometimes.

[–]d3rr 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Yeah maybe it's a whoops, they do have a checkbox to disable the behavior. So the question is, would FF really ban for phoning every website home? The FF you're banned email is pretty cryptic but maybe it was about a different technical issue altogether.

[–]wizzwizz4[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

would FF really ban for phoning every website home?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Yes. Did I say yes? Yes, they would. They'd ban for (slightly) less.¹

Whether this is actually what they banned it for is unknown. But the coincidence is strong evidence for it being the reason.

¹: They've taken disciplinary action on a developer rewriting the rules of an ad-blocking extension when the ad-blocking extension hard-coded part of their site instead of fixing the general workaround… sorry, that's politics.

[–]Mnemonic 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (5 children)

Did it become spyware because firefox wanted to have a reason to ban it?

Or (as I guess) did the owners became greedy and made it into spyware with some updates?

Or was it spyware all along?

[–]wizzwizz4[S] 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

The second one. It used to only "phone home" when required for the functionality of the extension, but they added a new feature that reports absolutely every website you visit to the developers.

If you click the link, you'll see the code that adds that anti-feature.

Mozilla didn't say, but I'm 80% positive that's why they banned it.

[–]SuperConductiveRabbi 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

They didn't become greedy in the sense that they were motivated to install spyware. See my comment here:

They implemented a privacy-invading feature that was hugely requested (and useful), leading to the extension being flagged as being privacy-invading.

The question should be whether or not it's opt-in or opt-out (I think it's the latter), and if it was the former whether Firefox would be wrong to ban it--especially considering they're going to extreme lengths to prevent you from running third party extensions through anything but their walled-garden extension page.

[–]wizzwizz4[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

If it was the former, Mozilla wouldn't have banned it (according to their policies).

[–]PikonParadox 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

ELi5: What is this extension and what happened?

[–]wizzwizz4[S] 5 insightful - 1 fun5 insightful - 0 fun6 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

It's basically a universal commenting system. These people set up a database that people can add to, and the extension shows all the comments related to the page in their database. In order to do this, it needs to send the web address of the page you're currently on to the people who run the extension. It used to do this only when you clicked to view comments.

The programmers recently made a change to add a "comment count" icon, which means that it "phones home" to ask for the comment count whenever you visit any page. This means that the extension tells them exactly where you're going on the web, and when, at all times – a drastic change that turns a useful tool into spyware.

They should've made this an "opt-in" feature. Instead, it's there by default, and turned on for everyone when they update. Mozilla, instead of letting the update go through, banned the extension.

I posted this in retaliation to this misrepresentation that says that Mozilla are trying to ban free speech.