-Firefox to track your location.

Posted: October 8, 2008 in 2008, Articles


Mozilla Labs has unveiled a new Add-on that allows Firefox to pinpoint your location based on Wi-Fi signals. The feature, called Geode, is a prototype for the location-tracking technology that will be built into the forthcoming Firefox 3.1.

Geode is designed to work with websites that rely on knowing your location, such as mapping and geotagging services.

A demo application called Food Finder highlights restaurants and caf�s in the immediate vicinity on a Google Map.

Existing web services such as Pownce (which lets you send location-tagged photos and messages to friends) and Yahoo’s Fire Eagle (which updates your blog and other web services with your current location) will also work with Geode.

Privacy concerns

The prospect of Firefox having the ability to track your location raises obvious privacy fears. Mozilla insists users will remain in complete control.

“With Geode, when a website requests your location a notification bar will ask how much information you want to give that site: your exact location, your neighbourhood, your city, or nothing at all,” the Mozilla Labs blog. claims.

Geode uses Skyhook’s Loki technology to determine your location from local Wi-Fi hotspots, with Mozilla claiming the technology can map your location to within 10-20 metres in less than a second. That obviously hinges on Loki knowing the co-ordinates of a hotspot in your area: in our brief test this morning in Sussex, it was unable to determine our location.

Mozilla says it plans to refine the technology before the launch of Firefox 3.1. “Geode and the Geolocation Services in Firefox 3.1 will use the same W3C API for Geolocation, meaning that the same Javascript code will work in both,” the blog claims.

“The still-in-developement Firefox 3.1 version will allow the user to choose a geolocation service provider, which can either be a peripheral device like a GPS, or a web-based service provider like we’ve used in Geode.”

Firefox users can download the Geode Add-on here.


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