Informed Consent in the Mozilla Browser: Implementing Value-Sensitive Design

Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Edward Felten and Batya Friedman


Proceedings of the 35th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2002


This paper looks at how web browsers can teach users about privacy online.

Policy Relevance

Web browsers can be designed to help users control their privacy online and teach them about “cookies.”

Main Points

  • Users should know and agree if information about them is being recorded and used as they surf the web (“informed consent.”)

  • Technology called “cookies” automatically records information about users’ activities as they surf the web. Current browsers offer little control of cookies.
    • The default setting for browsers accepts all cookies.

  • Technology should teach users about the benefits and risks of cookies, alert them to individual cookies, let them control cookies, and avoid distracting them from their main goal in surfing the web.

  • Our “Cookie Watcher” helped users understand and control cookies and showed that technical design can accommodate privacy values.

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