Take control over your data with Rally, a novel privacy-first data sharing platform
Mozilla teams up with Princeton University researchers to enable crowdsourced science for public good; collaborates with research groups at Princeton, Stanford on upcoming studies.
Your data is valuable. But for too long, online services have pilfered, swapped, and exploited your data without your awareness. Privacy violations and filter bubbles are all consequences of a surveillance data economy. But what if, instead of companies taking your data without giving you a say, you could select who gets access to your data and put it to work for public good?
Today, we’re announcing the Mozilla Rally platform. Built for the browser with privacy and transparency at its core, Rally puts users in control of their data and empowers them to contribute their browsing data to crowdfund projects for a better Internet and a better society. At Mozilla, we’re working on building a better internet, one that puts people first, respects their privacy and gives them power over their online experience. We’ve been a leader in privacy features that help you control your data by blocking trackers. But, being “data-empowered” also requires the ability to choose who you want to access your data.
“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. We are excited to see how Rally can help understand some of the biggest problems of the internet and make it better.”Rebecca Weiss, Rally Project Lead
As a first step on this journey, we’re launching the new Rally research initiative, a crowdsourced scientific effort we developed in collaboration with professor Jonathan Mayer’s research group at Princeton University. Computer scientists, social scientists and other researchers will be able to launch groundbreaking studies about the web and invite you to participate. A core focus of the initiative is enabling unprecedented studies that hold major online services accountable.
“Online services constantly experiment on users, to maximize engagement and profit. But for too long, academic researchers have been stymied when trying to experiment on online services. Rally flips the script and enables a new ecosystem of technology policy research.”Jonathan Mayer, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy
We’re kickstarting the Mozilla Rally research initiative with our first two research collaborator studies. Our first study is “Political and COVID-19 News” and comes from the Princeton team that helped us develop the Rally research initiative. This study examines how people engage with news and misinformation about politics and COVID-19 across online services.
Soon, we’ll also be launching our second academic study, “Beyond the Paywall”, a study, in partnership with Shoshana Vasserman and Greg Martin of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. It aims to better understand news consumption, what people value in news and the economics that could build a more sustainable ecosystem for newspapers in the online marketplace.
“We need research to get answers to the hard questions that we face as a society in the information age. But for that research to be credible and reliable, it needs to be transparent, considered and treat every participant with respect. It sounds simple but this takes a lot of work. It needs a standard bearer to make it the expectation in social science. In working with Rally, we hope to be part of that transformation.”Shoshana Vasserman, Assistant Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business
We are also launching a new toolkit today, WebScience, that enables researchers to build standardized browser-based studies on Rally. WebScience also encourages data minimization, which is central to how Rally will respect people who choose to participate in studies. WebScience was developed and open sourced by Jonathan Mayer’s team at Princeton and is now co-maintained with Mozilla.
With Rally, we’ve built an innovative, consent-driven data sharing platform that puts power back into the hands of people. By leveraging the scale of web browsers – a piece of software used by billions of people around the world – Rally has the potential to help address societal problems we could not solve before. Our goal is to demonstrate that there is a case for an equitable market for data, one where every party is treated fairly, and we welcome mission-aligned organizations that want to join us on this journey.
To participate in Rally, join us at rally.mozilla.org.
Interested in joining Rally and want to know how it works?
When you join Rally, you have the opportunity to participate in data crowdsourcing projects — we call them “studies” — focused on understanding and finding solutions for social problems caused by the data economy. You will always see a simple explanation of a study’s purpose, the data it collects, how the data will be used, and who will have access to your data. All your data is stored in Mozilla’s restricted servers, and access to the analysis environment is tightly controlled. For those who really want to dig deep, you can read our detailed disclosures and even inspect our code.