User feedback and data is key to any app that ever wants to improve and Firefox is no different. Long time Firefox users already know that Firefox collects information from users regarding their usage of the browser, the customization they do, and the hardware the browser is run on. What perhaps fewer people know is that when you first install Firefox, it gathers information about your current installation as well and it isn’t very obvious that it’s doing so. Here’s how to stop Firefox from collecting information about a new Firefox installation.
When you download the Firefox installer file, it doesn’t ask you much. There’s an ‘Install’ button that you click to proceed with the installation, a ‘Cancel’ button that lets you skip it, and an ‘Options’ button that very few users might click. Conventionally, any options offered at the start of an installation let you customize which components of an app to install but that’s not what this Options’ button hides.
Click it and you will be presented with a modest list of options for the installation such as where to add shortcuts for launching Firefox and which folder to install it to. This is also where you will see the ‘Send information about this installation to Mozilla’ option that you didn’t expect to see. Uncheck it and then proceed with the installation.
To be clear, this doesn’t make Mozilla an evil corporation that’s stealing your super secret data to sell it for profit to Big Brother. The information gathered at this stage will likely only tell Mozilla how users prefer to access the browser and what kind of hardware they’re running it on. The data will help Mozilla make sure the browser runs well on the most frequently used hardware that its user base has. It’s also worth mentioning that although Telemetry data is enabled by default when you install Firefox, the browser alerts you of this and offers you a super simple way to stop the data from being sent. It’s very up front about it and there is no jumping through hoops to turn the data collection off.
There isn’t much of a security risk involved when information about an installation is sent but users do deserve to know up front when data is being collected and have the choice to opt out of it if they want to.