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.

Firefox for iOS Makes it Faster and Easier to Use the Mobile Web the Way You Want

We’re always focused on making the best Firefox experience we can offer. We want to give you complete control over your web experience, while also making sure to protect your privacy and security the best we can. Today, we’re pleased to share an update to Firefox for iOS that gives you a more streamlined experience and that allows for more control over your mobile browsing experience.

What’s New in Firefox for iOS?

iOS Today Widget: We know that getting to what you need on the Web fast is important, especially on your mobile, so you can access Firefox through the iOS Today widget to quickly open a new tab, a new private tab or a recently copied URL.

iOS Today Widget in Firefox for iOS

iOS Today Widget in Firefox for iOS

Awesomebar: Firefox for iOS allows you to search your bookmarks and history within the smart URL bar, making it easier to quickly access your favorite websites.

Search bookmarks

Search bookmarks in Firefox for iOS

Manage Security: By default, Firefox helps to ensure your security by warning you when a website’s connection is not secure. When you attempt to access an unsafe website, you’ll see an error message stating that the connection is untrusted, and you are prevented from accessing that site. With iOS, you can now temporarily ignore these error messages for websites you have deemed as “safe”, but that might register as potentially unsafe by Firefox.

SSL Certificate

Over-ride certificate errors in Firefox for iOS

To experience the newest features and use the latest version of Firefox for iOS, download the update and let us know what you think.

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You Can Help Build the Future of Firefox with the New Test Pilot Program

When building features for hundreds of millions of Firefox users worldwide, it’s important to get them right. To help figure out which features should ship and how they should work, we created the new Test Pilot program. Test Pilot is a way for you to try out experimental features and let us know what you think. You can turn them on and off at any time, and you’ll always know what information you’re sharing to help us understand how these features are used. Of course, you can also use Test Pilot to provide feedback and suggestions to the teams behind each new feature.

As you’re experimenting with new features, you might experience some bugs or lose some of the polish from the general Firefox release, so Test Pilot allows you to easily enable or disable features at any time.

Feedback and data from Test Pilot will help determine which features ultimately end up in a Firefox release for all to enjoy.

What New Experimental Features Can You Test?

Activity Stream: This experiment will make it easier to navigate through browsing history to find important websites and content faster. Activity stream helps you rediscover the things you love the most on the web. Each time you open a new tab, you’ll see your top sites along with highlights from your bookmarks and history. Simply browse the visual timeline to find what you want.

Tab Center: Display tabs vertically along the side of the screen instead of horizontally along the top of the browser to give you a new way to experience tabbed browsing.

Universal search: Combines the Awesome Bar history with the Firefox Search drop down menu to give you the best recommendations so you can spend less time sifting through search results and more time enjoying the web. You’ll notice that search suggestions look different. If you have been to a site before, you will see it clearly highlighted as a search suggestion. Recommended results will include more information about the site suggestion, like top stories on the news page or featured content.

How do I get started?

Test Pilot experiments are currently available in English only and we will add more languages later this year. To download Test Pilot and help us build the future of Firefox, visit https://testpilot.firefox.com/

Update to Firefox Released Today

The latest version of Firefox was released today. It features an improved look and feel for Linux users, a minor security improvement and additional updates for all Firefox users.

The update to Firefox for Android features minor changes, including an improvement to user notifications and clearer homescreen shortcut icons.

More information:

Mozilla’s Commitment to Inclusive Internet Access

Developing the Internet and defending its openness are key to global growth that is equitable, sustainable, and inclusive. The Internet is most powerful when anyone — regardless of gender or geography — can participate equally.

Today Mozilla announced two commitments to help make universal internet access a reality as part of the U.S. State Department’s Global Connect Initiative global actions, in partnership with the World Bank and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

  • Mozilla will launch a public challenge this year to spur innovation and equal-rating solutions for providing affordable access and digital literacy. The goal is to inject practical, action-oriented, new thinking into the current debate on how to connect the unconnected people of the world.
  • Additionally, Mozilla is building a global hub to help more women learn how to read, write, and participate online. Over the past five years, Mozilla volunteers have started over 100 clubs and run over 5000 local events in 90 countries to teach digital literacy. Building on this model, Mozilla is now working with U.N. Women to set up clubs just for women and girls in Kenya and South Africa. This is the next step towards creating a global hub.

“Connecting the unconnected is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and one we must work on together. We will need corporate, government, and philanthropic efforts to ensure that the Internet as the world’s largest shared public resource is truly open and accessible to all. We are pleased to see a sign of that collaboration with the Global Connect Initiative commitments,” said Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of Mozilla.

Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, added, “We must address the breadth but also the depth of digital inclusion. Having access to the Web is essential, but knowing how to read, write and participate in the digital world has become a basic foundational skill next to reading, writing, and arithmetic. At Mozilla we are looking at – and helping to solve – both the access and digital literacy elements of inclusion.”

We look forward to sharing progress on both our commitments as the year progresses.

Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) Update: Q1 2016

This is an update on the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program for the first quarter of 2016. MOSS is Mozilla’s initiative to support the open source community of which we are a part.

We are pleased to announce that MOSS has been funded for 2016 – both the existing Track 1, “Foundational Technology”, and a new Track 2, “Mission Partners”. This new track will be open to any open source project, but the work applied for will need to further the Mozilla mission. Exactly what that means, and how this track will function, is going to be worked out in the next few months.  Join the MOSS discussion forum to have your say.

On Track 1, we have paid or are in the process of making payments to six of the original seven successful applicants whose awards were finalized in December; for the seventh one, work has been postponed for a period. We are learning from our experience with these applications. Much process had to be put in place for the first time, and we hope that future award payments will be smoother and quicker.

This year so far, two more applications have been successful. The Django REST Framework, which is an extension for Django, has been awarded $50,000, and The Intern, a testing framework, has been awarded $35,000. Our congratulations go out to them. We are at the stage of drawing up agreements with both of these projects.

Applications remain open for Track 1. If you know of an open source project that Mozilla uses in its software or infrastructure, or Mozillians use to get their jobs done and which could do with some financial support, please encourage them to apply.

Mozilla-supported Let’s Encrypt goes out of Beta

In 2014, Mozilla teamed up with Akamai, Cisco, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Identrust, and the University of Michigan to found Let’s Encrypt  in order to move the Web towards universal encryption. Today, Let’s Encrypt is leaving beta. We here at Mozilla are very proud of Let’s Encrypt reaching this stage of maturity

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated and open Web certificate authority that helps make it easy for any Web site to turn on encryption. Let’s Encrypt uses an open protocol called ACME which is being standardized in the IETF. There are already over 40 independent implementations of ACME. Several web hosting services such as Dreamhost and Automattic, who runs WordPress.com, also use ACME to integrate with Let’s Encrypt and provide security that is on by default.

HTTPS, the protocol that forms the basis of Web security, has been around for a long time. However, as of the end of 2015, only ~40% of page views and ~65% of transactions used HTTPS. Those numbers should both be 100% if the Web is to provide the level of privacy and security that people expect. One of the biggest barriers to setting up a secure Web site is getting a “certificate”, which is the digital credential that lets Web browsers make certain they are talking to the right site. Historically the process of getting certificates has been difficult and expensive, making it a major roadblock towards universal encryption.

In the six months since its beta launch in November 2015, Let’s Encrypt has issued more than 1.7 million certificates for approximately 2.4 million domain names, and is currently issuing more than 20,000 certificates a day. More than 90% of Let’s Encrypt certificates are protecting web sites that never had security before. In addition, more than 20 other companies have joined Let’s Encrypt, making it a true cross-industry effort.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who has been part of making Let’s Encrypt happen. Security needs to be a fundamental part of the Web and Let’s Encrypt is playing a key role in making the Internet more secure for everyone.