Firefox Data Collection Practices - How to Collect Data

Benjamin Smedberg benjamin at
Wed Jun 10 20:55:06 UTC 2015

I'd like to point Firefox and platform developers at this doc:

Several times recently I've discovered that developers are unsure what 
the rules are for collecting data. Last year, I worked with Marshall 
Erwin to clarify decision-making about data collection and we came up 
with these guidelines and policies.

The scope of my role as Firefox data steward includes understanding and 
reviewing the data the Firefox client sends back to Mozilla. This 
includes things like AUS pings, add blocklist pings, Firefox features 
that are delivered as a service (Hello, Accounts, Sync), as well as the 
actual data-collection features including telemetry, FHR, 
crash-reporting, heartbeat, etc.  As necessary I will work with Marshall 
and Geoff from the legal team if there are legal concerns about any 
data, and to keep the Firefox privacy notice up to date.

One of our biggest goals when doing data collection review is to ensure 
that the data collection is properly documented. For telemetry probes 
this may be self-documenting within Histograms.json itself, but for many 
other pieces of data, we will ask you to update the in-tree .rst docs to 
describe the data that is being collected. I have been listing out our 
existing data collection mechanism, many of which are not 
well-documented currently. You may see an email from me in the next few 
months asking for better docs for the existing data collection mechanisms.

The data steward and data collection review replaces the older "privacy 
review" mechanism. Our goal is to review the data we collect not just 
privacy concerns, but to make sure that the data will be able to answer 
the questions you want to ask and that there is somebody responsible for 
monitoring the data after it has been collected.

I would like to review all changes to data collection, including new 
telemetry probes, crash-stats annotations, etc.  Vladan Djeric and Ally 
Naaktgeboren are my peers to help expedite data collection reviews: feel 
free to request review from any of us. Please let me know if you ever 
feel stuck or blocked on data review: my goal is to get simple requests 
approved very quickly, and make sure more complex requests don't ever 
get stuck or have a clear owner.

My role as Firefox data steward does not extend to Firefox OS: the data 
steward for Firefox OS is Jonas Sicking. Also, my role does not extend 
to the servers which store data after it has been collected: the Firefox 
cloud services data steward is Travis Blow.


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