Support Public Education and Web Literacy in California

Web Literacy

Web literacy — the ability to read, write, and participate online — is one of the most important skills of the 21st century. We believe it should be enshrined as the fourth “R,” alongside Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. From our open source learning tools to our free educational curriculum, we are dedicated to empowering individuals by teaching Web literacy.

In 2015, 65% of California public schools offered no computer science courses at all. Public schools should do more to expose students to Web literacy: a paucity of funding and the elimination of digital skills classes and curriculum are a disservice to students and the state’s future.

On June 30, we submitted an amicus letter to the California Supreme Court urging review of the case Campaign for Quality Education v. State of California. The issue in this case is whether the California Constitution requires California to provide its public school students with a quality education. We wrote this letter because we believe that California students risk being left behind in our increasingly digitized society without a quality education that includes Web literacy skills.

The internet has become an integral part of life for many and continues to grow in its global impact. Empowering a Web literate generation of students is crucial to their success, that of the broader online ecosystem and to our local economy. Using technology is an important part of Web literacy but it is not all. Web literacy needs to include a deeper understanding of technology itself and of its impact to empower students and allow meaningful participation in their online lives.

We hope the California Supreme Court takes this case. Ultimately, a quality education, including Web literacy, unlocks opportunities for students to be more engaged citizens as well as making them more college and career ready in today’s technology-driven market.

Meet Codemoji: Mozilla’s New Game for Teaching Encryption Basics with Emoji

🌂🐵✉😓🌉✋📒🏩💥🐵 👻😩📒📒🏂😓😁

The above message may seem like a random string of emoji. But not so: When decoded, it reads: “Encryption Matters.”

Today, Mozilla is launching Codemoji, a fun, educational tool that introduces everyday Internet users to ciphers — the basic building blocks of encryption — using emoji.

Try Codemoji »

How it works

Codemoji is a Web-based platform that allows users to write a message, encode it using emoji, and then send it to a friend.

codemoji

A friendly reminder: Codemoji is intended as a learning tool, not a platform for sharing personal data. Thankfully, modern encryption is much stronger than simple emoji ciphers. If you are going to be sending sensitive information, best to use a more sophisticated security tool 😏.

Why we built Codemoji

Mozilla built Codemoji alongside our friends at TODO, the Turin, Italy-based design and creative agency. Our goal: To educate everyday Internet users about ciphers and the basics of encryption.

Says Mark Surman, Mozilla’s Executive Director:

“When more people understand how encryption works and why it’s important to them, more people can stand up for encryption when it matters most. This is crucial: Currently, encryption is being threatened around the world. From France to Australia to the UK, governments are proposing policies that would harm user security by weakening encryption. And in the U.S., the FBI recently asked Apple to undermine the security of its own products.”

Mozilla believes encryption is the most important tool we have for building a more safe, secure Internet. And building a more secure Internet is critical to our users, our economy, and our national security.

Encryption is also a part of everyday life and everyday commerce. The things we do with it are things we value, like bank and shop. If encryption is weakened, these things become risky.

We believe Codemoji is a first step for everyday Internet users to better understand encryption. To learn more about encryption’s importance, and how you can stand up for encryption, visit advocacy.mozilla.org/encrypt.

Thanks for reading. Or, in Codemoji, 🔔🚄😩🐵🍏😁 🌠💥😓 😓🏂😩💾🏩🐵🚤 .

week2_codemoji_04

Mozilla Awards $385,000 to Open Source Projects as part of MOSS “Mission Partners” Program

moz-love-open

For many years people with visual impairments and the legally blind have paid a steep price to access the Web on Windows-based computers. The market-leading software for screen readers costs well over $1,000. The high price is a considerable obstacle to keeping the Web open and accessible to all. The NVDA Project has developed an open source screen reader that is free to download and to use, and which works well with Firefox. NVDA aligns with one of the Mozilla Manifesto’s principles: “The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.”

That’s why, at Mozilla, we have elected to give the project $15,000 in the inaugural round of our Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) “Mission Partners” awards. The award will help NVDA stay compatible with the Firefox browser and support a long-term relationship between our two organizations. NVDA is just one of eight grantees in a wide range of key disciplines and technology areas that we have chosen to support as part of the MOSS Mission Partners track. This track financially supports open source software projects doing work that meaningfully advances Mozilla’s mission and priorities.

Giving Money for Open Source Accessibility, Privacy, Security and More

Aside from accessibility, security and privacy are common themes in this set of awards. We are supporting several secure communications tools, a web server which only works in secure mode, and a distributed, client-side, privacy-respecting search engine. The set is rounded out with awards to support the growing Rust ecosystem and promote open source options for the building of compelling games on the Web. (Yes, games. We consider games to be a key art-form in this modern era, which is why we are investing in the future of Web games with WebAssembly and Open Web Games.)

MOSS is a continuing program. The Mission Partners track has a budget for 2016 of around US$1.25 million. The first set of awards listed below total US$385,000 and we look forward to supporting more projects in the coming months. Applications remain open both for Mission Partners and for the Foundational Technology track (for projects creating software that Mozilla already uses or deploys) on an ongoing basis.

We are greatly helped in evaluating applications and making awards by the MOSS Committee. Many thanks again to them.

And The Winners Are….

The first eight awardees are:

Tor: $152,500. Tor is a system for using a distributed network to communicate anonymously and without being tracked. This award will be used to significantly enhance the Tor network’s metrics infrastructure so that the performance and stability of the network can be monitored and improvements made as appropriate.

Tails: $77,000. Tails is a secure-by-default live operating system that aims at preserving the user’s privacy and anonymity. This award will be used to implement reproducible builds, making it possible for third parties to independently verify that a Tails ISO image was built from the corresponding Tails source code.

caddy-open

Caddy: $50,000. Caddy is an HTTP/2 web server that uses HTTPS automatically and by default via Let’s Encrypt. This award will be used to add a REST API, web UI, and new documentation, all of which make it easier to deploy more services with TLS.

Mio: $30,000. Mio is an asynchronous I/O library written in Rust. This award will be used to make ergonomic improvements to the API and thereby make it easier to build high performance applications with Mio in Rust.

getdns-300

DNSSEC/DANE Chain Stapling: $25,000. This project is standardizing and implementing a new TLS extension for transport of a serialized DNSSEC record set, to reduce the latency associated with DANE and DNSSEC validation. This award will be used to complete the standard in the IETF and build both a client-side and a server-side implementation.

godot

Godot Engine: $20,000. Godot is a high-performance multi-platform game engine which can deploy to HTML5. This award will be used to add support for Web Sockets, WebAssembly and WebGL 2.0.

pears

PeARS: $15,500. PeARS (Peer-to-peer Agent for Reciprocated Search) is a lightweight, distributed web search engine which runs in an individual’s browser and indexes the pages they visit in a privacy-respecting way. This award will permit face-to-face collaboration among the remote team and bring the software to beta status.

nvaccess

NVDA: $15,000. NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free, open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows. This award will be used to make sure NVDA and Firefox continue to work well together as Firefox moves to a multi-process architecture.

This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more award announcements as we allocate funds. Open Source is a movement that is only growing, both in numbers and in importance. Operating in the open makes for better security, better accessibility, better policy, better code and, ultimately, a better world. So if you know any projects whose work furthers the Mozilla Mission, send them our way and encourage them to apply.

Expanding Mozilla’s Boards

In a post earlier this month, I mentioned the importance of building a network of people who can help us identify and recruit potential Board level contributors and senior advisors. We are also currently working to expand both the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation Boards.

The role of a Mozilla Board member

I’ve written a few posts about the role of the Board of Directors at Mozilla.

At Mozilla, we invite our Board members to be more involved with management, employees and volunteers than is generally the case. It’s not that common for Board members to have unstructured contacts with individuals or even sometimes the management team. The conventional thinking is that these types of relationships make it hard for the CEO to do his or her job. We feel differently. We have open flows of information in multiple channels. Part of building the world we want is to have built transparency and shared understandings.

We also prefer a reasonably extended “get to know each other” period for our Board members. Sometimes I hear people speak poorly of extended process, but I feel it’s very important for Mozilla.  Mozilla is an unusual organization. We’re a technology powerhouse with a broad Internet openness and empowerment mission at its core. We feel like a product organization to those from the nonprofit world; we feel like a non-profit organization to those from the Internet industry.

It’s important that our Board members understand the full breadth of Mozilla’s mission. It’s important that Mozilla Foundation Board members understand why we build consumer products, why it happens in the subsidiary and why they cannot micro-manage this work. It is equally important that Mozilla Corporation Board members understand why we engage in the open Internet activities of the Mozilla Foundation and why we seek to develop complementary programs and shared goals.

I want all our Board members to understand that “empowering people” encompasses “user communities” but is much broader for Mozilla. Mozilla should be a resource for the set of people who care about the open Internet. We want people to look to Mozilla because we are such an excellent resource for openness online, not because we hope to “leverage our community” to do something that benefits us.

These sort of distinctions can be rather abstract in practice. So knowing someone well enough to be comfortable about these takes a while. We have a couple of ways of doing this. First, we have extensive discussions with a wide range of people. Board candidates will meet the existing Board members, members of the management team, individual contributors and volunteers. We’ve been piloting ways to work with potential Board candidates in some way. We’ve done that with Cathy Davidson, Ronaldo Lemos, Katharina Borchert and Karim Lakhani. We’re not sure we’ll be able to do it with everyone, and we don’t see it as a requirement. We do see this as a good way to get to know how someone thinks and works within the framework of the Mozilla mission. It helps us feel comfortable including someone at this senior level of stewardship.

What does a Mozilla Board member look like

Job descriptions often get long and wordy. We have those too but, for the search of new Board members, we’ve tried something else this time: a visual role description.

Board member job description for Mozilla Corporation

Board member job description for Mozilla Corporation

Board member job description for Mozilla Foundation

Board member job description for Mozilla Foundation

Here is a short explanation of how to read these visuals:

  • The horizontal lines speaks to things that every Board member should have. For instance, to be a Board member, you have to care about the mission and you have to have some cultural sense of Mozilla, etc. They are a set of things that are important for each and every candidate. In addition, there is a set of things that are important for the Board as a whole. For instance, we could put international experience in there or whether the candidate is a public spokesperson. We want some of that but it is not necessary that every Board member has that.
  • In the vertical green columns, we have the particular skills and expertise that we are looking for at this point.
  • We would expect the horizontal lines not to change too much over time and the vertical lines to change depending on who joins the Board and who leaves.

I invite you to look at these documents and provide input on them. If you have candidates that you believe would be good Board members, send them to the boarddevelopment@mozilla.com mailing list. We will use real discretion with the names you send us.

We’ll also be designing a process for how to broaden participation in the process beyond other Board members. We want to take advantage of the awareness and the cluefulness of the organization. That will be part of a future update.

 

Help Make Open Source Secure

Major security bugs heartbleed bandagein core pieces of open source software – such as Heartbleed and Shellshock – have elevated highly technical security vulnerabilities into national news headlines. Despite these sobering incidents, adequate support for securing open source software remains an unsolved problem, as a panel of 32 security professionals confirmed in 2015. We want to change that, starting today with the creation of the Secure Open Source (“SOS”) Fund aimed at precisely this need.

Open source software is used by millions of businesses and thousands of educational and government institutions for critical applications and services. From Google and Microsoft to the United Nations, open source code is now tightly woven into the fabric of the software that powers the world. Indeed, much of the Internet – including the network infrastructure that supports it – runs using open source technologies. As the Internet moves from connecting browsers to connecting devices (cars and medical equipment), software security becomes a life and death consideration.

The SOS Fund will provide security auditing, remediation, and verification for key open source software projects. The Fund is part of the Mozilla Open Source Support program (MOSS) and has been allocated $500,000 in initial funding, which will cover audits of some widely-used open source libraries and programs. But we hope this is only the beginning. We want to see the numerous companies and governments that use open source join us and provide additional financial support. We challenge these beneficiaries of open source to pay it forward and help secure the Internet.

Security is a process. To have substantial and lasting benefit, we need to invest in education, best practices, and a host of other areas. Yet we hope that this fund will provide needed short-term benefits and industry momentum to help strengthen open source projects.

Mozilla is committed to tackling the need for more security in the open source ecosystem through three steps:

  • Mozilla will contract with and pay professional security firms to audit other projects’ code;
  • Mozilla will work with the project maintainer(s) to support and implement fixes, and to manage disclosure; and
  • Mozilla will pay for the remediation work to be verified, to ensure any identified bugs have been fixed.

We have already tested this process with audits of three pieces of open source software. In those audits we uncovered and addressed a total of 43 bugs, including one critical vulnerability and two issues with a widely-used image file format. These initial results confirm our investment hypothesis, and we’re excited to learn more as we open for applications.

We all rely on open source software. We invite other companies and funders to join us in securing the open source ecosystem. If you’re a developer, apply for support! And if you’re a funder, join us. Together, we can have a greater impact for the security of open source systems and the Internet as a whole.

More information:

 

 

 

Improvements to Tabs and Video on Firefox Make Browsing Faster and Easier

In the recent past we have made several improvements to Firefox Accounts that make your browsing better. Those improvements include personalizing your account and the ability to sync passwords, bookmarks and other browsing data between your desktop and mobile devices.

Now, we are making it even easier to access synced tabs directly in your desktop Firefox browser. If you’re logged into your Firefox Account, you will see all open tabs from your smartphone or other computers within the sidebar. In the sidebar you can also search for specific tabs quickly and easily.

Do you have a powerful multi-processor computer? If so, Firefox now delivers an improved video experience when viewing videos on YouTube. This means videos will run smoother. You will also use less bandwidth and get improved battery life on your laptop.

And if you are an Android user, we have removed the icons that show up in the URL bar. This prevents unsecured sites from copying the images of legitimate sites to try to trick you into thinking the site is safe for sensitive information.

Lastly, we added to Firefox for Android a feature that lets you show or hide web fonts. This may reduce the amount of data required for browsing, an important factor for data-conscious users. We hope you enjoy these new features. Feel free to send us any feedback.

Welcome Alex Salkever, Vice President of Marketing Communications

I’m excited to announce that Alex Salkever joins the Mozilla leadership team today as the Vice President of Marketing Communications.

In this role, Alex Salkever will be responsible for driving strategic positioning and marketing communications campaigns. Alex will oversee the global communications, social media, user support and content marketing teams and work across the organization to develop impactful outbound communications for Mozilla and Firefox products.

Alex Salkever, MozillaAlex was most recently Chief Marketing Officer of Silk.co, a data publishing and visualization startup, where he led efforts focused on user growth and platform partnerships. Alex has held a variety of senior marketing, marketing communications and product marketing roles working on products in the fields of scientific instruments, cloud computing, telecommunications and Internet of Things. In these various capacities, Alex has managed campaigns across all aspects of marketing and product marketing including PR, content marketing, user acquisition, developer marketing and marketing analytics.

Alex also brings to Mozilla his experience as a former Technology Editor for BusinessWeek.com. Among his many accomplishments, Alex is the co-author of “The Immigrant Exodus”, a book named to The Economist Book of the Year List in the Business Books category in 2012.

Welcome Alex!

Background:

Alex’s bio & Mozillians profile

LinkedIn profile

High-resolution photo

Mozilla Expands Its National Gigabit Project to Austin, TX

Mozilla will provide $150,000 in funding, and also grow the local maker community, to spur gigabit innovation in Texas’ capital

When you couple lightning-fast Internet with innovative projects in the realms of education and workforce development, amazing things can happen.

That’s the philosophy behind the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund, our joint initiative with the National Science Foundation and US Ignite. The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund brings funding and staffing to U.S. cities equipped with gigabit connectivity, the next-generation Internet that’s 250-times faster than most other connections. Our goal: Spark the creation of groundbreaking, gigabit-enabled educational technologies so that more people of all ages and backgrounds can read, write, and participate on this next-generation Web.

As we just announced at the Gigabit City Summit in Kansas City, we’re expanding our gigabit work to the city of Austin, TX in August 2016. Selected from a list of contenders from across the country, Austin stood out due to its existing city-wide digital inclusion plan, active developer community, and growing informal education landscape. Beginning this fall, Mozilla will provide $150,000 in grant funding to innovative and local projects and tools that leverage Austin’s Google Fiber network. Think: 4K streaming in classrooms, immersive virtual reality, and more.

(In the existing Mozilla Gigabit cities of Chattanooga, TN and Kansas City, projects include real-time water monitoring systems, 3D learning tools for classrooms, and specialized technology for first responder training. Read more about those projects here.)

Individuals from the Chattanooga gigabit project Hyperaudio participate in a New York City Maker Party.

Individuals from the Chattanooga gigabit project Hyperaudio participate in a New York City Maker Party.

Mozilla is also investing in the makers and educators who make Austin great. We’ll help create Gigabit Hive Austin — a network of individuals, schools, nonprofits, museums, and other local organizations passionate about teaching and learning the Web. Hive Austin will be one of 14 Mozilla Hive networks and communities across four continents that teach web literacy and 21st-century skills.

Mozilla will open the first round of grant applications in Austin this August, and accept applications through October 18, 2016. Applicants and projects don’t have to be from Austin originally, but must be piloted locally. Click here to learn about the RFP process.

This spring, Mozilla is also providing $134,000 in new gigabit funding in Chattanooga and Kansas City. Funds will support projects that explore gigabit and robotics, big data, the Internet of Things, and more. Learn more.

Over the next two years, Mozilla will be expanding its Gigabit work to two additional cities. Interested in becoming a future Gigabit Hive city? We will reopen the city application process in late 2016.

Advance Disclosure Needed to Keep Users Secure

User security is paramount. Vulnerabilities can weaken security and ultimately harm users. We want people who identify security vulnerabilities in our products to disclose them to us so we can fix them as soon as possible. That’s why we were one of the first companies to create a bug bounty program and that’s why we are taking action again – to get information that would allow us to fix a potential vulnerability before it is more widely disclosed.

Today, we filed a brief in an ongoing criminal case asking the court to ensure that, if our code is implicated in a security vulnerability, that the government must disclose the vulnerability to us before it is disclosed to any other party. We aren’t taking sides in the case, but we are on the side of the hundreds of millions of users who could benefit from timely disclosure.

The relevant issue in this case relates to a vulnerability allegedly exploited by the government in the Tor Browser. The Tor Browser is partially based on our Firefox browser code. Some have speculated, including members of the defense team, that the vulnerability might exist in the portion of the Firefox browser code relied on by the Tor Browser. At this point, no one (including us) outside the government knows what vulnerability was exploited and whether it resides in any of our code base. The judge in this case ordered the government to disclose the vulnerability to the defense team but not to any of the entities that could actually fix the vulnerability. We don’t believe that this makes sense because it doesn’t allow the vulnerability to be fixed before it is more widely disclosed.

Court ordered disclosure of vulnerabilities should follow the best practice of advance disclosure that is standard in the security research community. In this instance, the judge should require the government to disclose the vulnerability to the affected technology companies first, so it can be patched quickly.

Governments and technology companies both have a role to play in ensuring people’s security online. Disclosing vulnerabilities to technology companies first, allows us to do our job to prevent users from being harmed and to make the Web more secure.

Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS): Now Open To All Projects

Last year, we launched the Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS) – an award program specifically focused on supporting open source and free software. The first track within MOSS (“Foundational Technology”) provides support for open source and free software projects that Mozilla uses or relies on. We are now adding a second track. “Mission Partners” is open to any open source project in the world which is undertaking an activity that meaningfully furthers Mozilla’s mission.

Our mission, as embodied in our Manifesto, is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An Internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent. We know that many other software projects around the world share these goals with us, and we want to use our resources to help and encourage others to work towards them.

So if you think your project qualifies, we encourage you to apply. Applications for the Mission Partners track are open as of today. (Applications for Foundational Technology also remain open.) You can read more about our selection criteria and committee on the wiki. The budget for this track for 2016 is approximately US$1.25 million.

We are keen to enable applications from groups not currently connected with Mozilla and from communities outside the English-speaking free software world. Therefore, applications for Mission Partners do not require a Mozillian to support them. Instead, they must be endorsed by a well-known and respected figure from the wider software community of which the project is a part.

The deadline for applications for the initial batch of Mission Partners awards is Tuesday, May 31 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. The first awardees will be announced at the Mozilla All Hands in London in the middle of June. After that time, applications will continue to be accepted and will be considered on an ongoing basis.

If you want to be kept informed of updates to the MOSS program, please join our discussion forum and read our updates on the Mozilla blog.

We look forward to considering the applications.