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Geolocation Access Controls Not Sufficiently Granular




3 years ago
3 years ago


(Reporter: mileselam, Unassigned)


40 Branch
Mac OS X

Firefox Tracking Flags

(Not tracked)




3 years ago
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.9; rv:40.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/40.0
Build ID: 20150403030204
Firefox for Android

Steps to reproduce:

1. Write JavaScript to access geolocation
2. Access page with above JavaScript
3. View scary prompt

Actual results:

Users will either blindly accept all requests for location, leaving them open to abuse, or they will deny all requests by default, eliminating any utility from geolocation.

Expected results:

Let the user decide granularity. Let the site know the general area without prompt. Geolocation on the web is…not optimal. So many sites trying to access location, scary prompt saying that site X wants to know your location with no context as to how it will be used, and too hard to revisit the decision.

Why is it either GPS within 15 feet or nothing at all? Many people don't care if you know that they're in San Mateo (for example), but unless you're explicitly a map-related or Foursquare-type web app, exact values aren't necessary but general location is still useful.
"Site wants access to your location."
• Allow
• Allow, but not my exact location
• Deny
Geolocation on the web is underutilized because people are worried about privacy, and rightly so! Speaking for myself, I'd be happy to give a value modulo 10km as a location default in exchange for not having a web prompt. Good enough to know the city for context but inexact enough to satisfy my comfort levels for general web use.

Also useful to amend the geolocation web API to specify needed granularity: exact, within 10km, within 100k, state/province/country, etc. If all your app needs is to know which requests are coming in by state or country, the privacy implications are obviously reduced from exact location.

Comment 1

3 years ago
Note: this affects Firefox on all platforms, but is most acute on mobile.


3 years ago
Component: Untriaged → Geolocation
Product: Firefox → Core


3 years ago
Severity: normal → enhancement
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