Mozilla has launched initiatives with Princeton University and Stanford University aimed at letting users control how their browsing data is collected and used.

Mozilla, the not-for-profit powering Firefox browser, has launched a platform to enable users to contribute their browsing data to scientists and researchers to study the web and create a “better Internet”.

The ‘Rally’ platform aims at “enabling unprecedented studies that hold major online services accountable,” Mozilla said in a statement. “Cutting people out of decisions about their data is an inequity that harms individuals, society and the internet. We believe that you should determine who benefits from your data. We are data optimists and want to change the way the data economy works for both people and day-to-day business,” it added.

To kickstart, Mozilla has launched an initiative with a research group at Princeton University to examine how people engage with news and misinformation about politics and COVID-19 across online services. Another initiative, in collaboration with Stanford University, will study what people value in news and how to make a sustainable ecosystem for newspapers in the online marketplace.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is the third-most popular browser in the world, and is known for its privacy-focused features. Recently, it started to block web trackers by default to keep users’ browsing data private.

The company also rolled out a toolkit named WebScience to enable researchers to build standardised browser-based studies on Rally. This will encourage data minimisation, according to Mozilla.

Rally is currently available for Firefox desktop users over the age of 19 in the U.S., and will be available for other web browsers in other countries in the future, Mozilla noted.

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