Home The Big Story The PET Project That Mozilla Acquired

The PET Project That Mozilla Acquired


Why would Mozilla buy a privacy tech startup?

To discuss its recent acquisition of Anonym, we bring on Co-Founder and CEO Brad Smallwood and CTO Tammy Greasby.

When Anonym explored a partnership with Mozilla – not Firefox, its browser – the companies discovered they shared a mission to create a more private internet, Smallwood says.

In practice, that means Mozilla wants Anonym to keep working on its PET (privacy-enhancing technologies) projects – platform-specific ways it can write algorithms that allow targeting, measurement and attribution without compromising an individual’s privacy. Anonym’s pet tactic is differential privacy, a technology in which noise is added to data in a way that prevents identification.

With Anonym’s approach, an advertiser and ad platform can join their data within the encrypted memory of a trusted execution environment (TEE), Greasby explains. Then, any algorithms used to analyze or extract the data use differential privacy, so the output of that joined data also remains private. Still following?

Although Anonym is separate from Mozilla’s web browser, Firefox, there are ways they could work together in the future. Both Apple and Google Chrome offer privacy-centric tech to replace cookies and app trackers. Mozilla wants something broader, Smallwood says. “The goal is very much to operate across the internet.”

Also in this episode: Smallwood (who worked at Meta with Oracle Data Cloud) and Greasby (who worked at Datalogix) reflect on the end of Oracle Data Cloud.

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