Lightbeam – why & what

Lightbeam is a key tool for Mozilla to educate the public about privacy.

In this blog post, you will know why I chose Lightbeam and what does it do.

As I was browsing through the Outreachy project list, Lightbeam caught my attention for the following reasons:

  • front-end web development (all things JavaScript)
  • visualisations (D3.js)
  • a project from Mozilla (healthy, open and accessible Internet for all people)

But I was not sure about the following:

  • web privacy
  • security engineering

JavaScript topped the list and I decided to give it a try. I must say, I am now very cautious about the online third party trackers and care for web privacy and security.

The key part of this project (internship) is to convert the existing Firefox add-on to a web extension and explore simpler ways to convey complex privacy and security concepts to all  Firefox users.

Web security & privacy are vast topics  and after playing around with a few keywords, I found these two interesting papers online:

A healthy internet is secure and private. While web tracking isn’t 100% evil (personal data can make your browsing more efficient; cookies can help your favourite websites stay in business), its workings remain poorly understood. Using interactive visualisations, Lightbeam’s main goal is to show web tracking, aka, show the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web.

Your personal information is valuable and it’s your right to know what data is being collected about you – your age, income, family’s ages and income, medical history, dietary habits, favourite web sites, your birthday…the list goes on. The trick is in taking this data and shacking up with third parties to help them come up with new ways to convince you to spend money, sign up for services, and give up more information.  It would be fine if you decided to give up this information for a tangible benefit, but you may never see a benefit aside from an ad, and no one’s including you in the decision.

One key area Lightbeam can help you in making the difference is in user control – deciding who can collect your data.

Lightbeam is your guide to help you surf the web while keeping your privacy intact.





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