Currently, a number of giants such as Google offer geolocation services. However, nearly all existing geolocation services are profit-oriented. Mozilla aims to change this by offering a geolocation service of its own, one that is meant to be used by the public. ‘Mozilla Location Service‘ is still experimental, though, and available in a few countries.
The location service is essentially geared towards mobile phones and so, relies on data from cell towers as well as information from Wi-Fi networks and IP addresses to provide geolocation details.
The key trait of Mozilla’s solution is, as the company puts it, better privacy options. Being an open-source developer, Mozilla claims that it is in a far better position to understand the related privacy issues and provide geolocation services while considering them.
According to the official blog post by Mozilla, “While many commercial services exist in this space, there’s currently no large public service to provide this crucial part of any mobile ecosystem. Mobile phones with a weak GPS signal and laptops without GPS hardware can use this service to quickly identify their approximate location. Even though the underlying data is based on publicly accessible signals, geolocation data is by its very nature personal and privacy sensitive. Mozilla is committed to improving the privacy aspects for all participants of this service offering.”
If you wish to contribute data for the service, you need to install Mozilla’s stumbler application. Currently, the service is included in U.S., Brazil, Australia, Russia and Indonesia. ‘Mozilla Location Service’ certainly seems very promising and in the coming days, we can expect that Mozilla is going to expand the scope of the service by allowing a greater portion of the public to access it.