Closed Bug 640033 Opened 9 years ago Closed 9 years ago

Add checkbox to Security or Advanced preferences to opt out of personalized add-on recommendations

Categories

(Thunderbird :: Preferences, defect)

defect
Not set

Tracking

(Not tracked)

RESOLVED WONTFIX

People

(Reporter: rsx11m.pub, Unassigned)

Details

(Keywords: privacy)

Attachments

(1 file)

This bug is the Thunderbird equivalent of SeaMonkey bug #639968.

Given that toolkit is likely no longer accepting any string changes for Gecko 2.0, but on the other hand making the extensions.getAddons.cache.enabled pref accessible for users who don't want to submit their list of installed add-ons to AMO to identify personalized recommendations would be beneficial, I'm filing this for TB 3.3 to add a checkbox to the one of the preference panes instead.

While the placement in SeaMonkey was straight-forward, I'm not quite sure where the best pane for Thunderbird would be (there is no Software Installation pane collecting add-on and update items in a single pane). It would be possible to redesignate the Security > Web Content pane as Security > Privacy, or to extend the semantics of Advanced > Updates to also capture this aspect.

(Quoting bug 639722 description for reference)
> +++ This bug was initially created as a clone of Bug #635115 +++
> 
> Per bug 635115 comment #13, there is currently no UI element for easy opting
> out of the "Recommended for you" feature. This is a follow-up bug to introduce
> such a switch. Users concerned about privacy would like to disable any feature
> that appears to send user-profiling information to whatever provider (and it
> this case the feature actually does so). A hidden preference does not
> adequately address such concerns.
Depends on: 639722
No longer depends on: 639722
(In reply to comment #0)
> Given that toolkit is likely no longer accepting any string changes for Gecko
> 2.0, but on the other hand making the extensions.getAddons.cache.enabled pref
> accessible for users who don't want to submit their list of installed add-ons
> to AMO to identify personalized recommendations would be beneficial, I'm filing
> this for TB 3.3 to add a checkbox to the one of the preference panes instead.

See bug 639722 comment 4 - that pref doesn't just control personalised recommendations, so doing it this way would be wrong.
Yes, I saw Justin's comment. I was under the impression that bug 635115 was supposed to exactly avoid that mixing of functionalities by adding another preference, apparently it didn't clean it up either. The question is if that
other function (which isn't specified so far, if you know more, would be good
to share) is adding anything significant if a user doesn't want personalized recommendations. It seems to do some caching (of what?), so if that other function is negligible compared with the benefit of allowing the user to opt
out, I'd still say that adding such a checkbox would be justifiable...
Joe, thanks for looking this up. So, what this preference causes is apparently disabling of all meta checks, i.e., sending information about add-ons installed to AMO. It's not exactly clear to me what this implies, but hopefully there will be some feedback on my bug 639722 comment #6 request for more details.

Note that later on in the "Potential Improvements for Firefox 4" section, there is a paragraph listing disabling both install and background meta checks along with personalized recommendations as desired, so this appears to be even more supporting exposing it in the UI (though it's difficult to explain everything in the usual 1-line text for a checkbox option so that it's all intuitive).
The only concrete list of meta data associated with add-ons I could find is https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Localizing_extension_metadata_on_addons.mozilla.org
where none of these attributes appear to be relevant for security or update pirposes (and automated updates aren't affected per bug 635115). So, not contacting AMO to update that list vs. installed add-on meta information at any time indeed appears consistent with the user's intent to uncheck that pref.
FYI: The SeaMonkey patch (bug 639968) checked in today, adding that box.
The pane redesign there (based on bug 606482) may be a nice template for the Advanced > Update preferences in Thunderbird, by the way.
Mark, Bryan: Since toolkit won't-fixed bug 639722, it will now be up to the applications to provide a UI for this preference.

As can be seen from bug 639722 comment #11, the list of metadata information periodically requested from the add-on site doesn't include security items,
thus can be considered optional and safe to switch off as a side effect.
(In reply to comment #6)
> FYI: The SeaMonkey patch (bug 639968) checked in today, adding that box.
> The pane redesign there (based on bug 606482) may be a nice template for the
> Advanced > Update preferences in Thunderbird, by the way.

Attachment coming for that concept as a mockup.
Maybe changing some of the wording:
"Personalize add-on recommendations" should probably read:
Personalize add-on recommendations (Enables AMO interactive session)
There should be a hint somewhere exactly what you are allowing.
Attached image New update pane
Suggested new update pane
(In reply to comment #8)
> Personalize add-on recommendations (Enables AMO interactive session)
> There should be a hint somewhere exactly what you are allowing.

Yes, SeaMonkey has the advantage of a build-in help viewer which Thunderbird lacks (bug 253334), thus the full information has to be provided in the label. "Interactive Session" and "AMO" may be a bit too technical though for the average user.
A more complete but most likely too long label might be "Tell the add-ons
site which add-ons are installed (for personalized recommendations and to periodically update information about your add-ons)."
I spoke to Bryan and some others about this bug earlier.

We do not agree that it is necessary to add this option to the user interface, we think that the default user experience will be acceptable and that having the option on the user interface would just be additional clutter.

We will be updating the Thunderbird FAQ (linked to from get add-ons pane) so that users can find out how to disable the option if they wish.

If people want this type of option then someone could write, for instance, a maximum privacy add-on that was able to disable this and other options relating to privacy.
Status: NEW → RESOLVED
Closed: 9 years ago
Resolution: --- → WONTFIX
Since the FAQ link is only there after you have already used the feature, I suggest a relnote for the upcoming Alpha/Beta.
This will be the first time this level of interaction will be on by default in a release.
Keywords: relnote
Keywords: relnote
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