The Firefox team decided this week to stop collecting unique identifiers that link crash reports from the same user.
During the somewhat heated debate during an extended session of its weekly meeting, opponents said the practice violates user privacy, while proponents say having the data visible could help them fix bugs and solve bottlenecks faster -- even though they claim to have never used it before.
Opponents won the debate by arguing that user privacy trumps any development issue. After the meeting, engineering chief Mike Beltzner summed up the issue this way:
"The discussion at the end of the meeting was around what data we should and shouldn't be collecting with crash reports, whether or not that data becomes publicly visible on our Crash Reporter developer website," Beltzner wrote in response to questions submitted by ZDNet. "The questions in the discussion centered around the value in keeping unique identifiers that allow us to associate two crashes from the same user.
"While there is value in being able to do this easily, the potential cost to user privacy felt high, and so some were arguing that we shouldn't have the crash reporter client on user's machines send these unique identifiers," he wrote. "That argument prevailed, and the change will be made such that unique identifiers will no longer be sent. We'll also purge the database of the ones we've collected (but not actually even used) to date and instead find new ways of drawing the correlations required for data analysis which don't have as high a risk to user privacy."