Welcome Sean White, Vice President of Technology Strategy

Dr. Sean White joins the Mozilla leadership team this week as a Vice President of Technology Strategy.

In this role, Sean will help guide and consult on strategic projects across the organization, with an initial focus on emerging technology opportunities in the areas of VR & AR and Connected Devices.

Sean White HeadshotSean was most recently the founder and CEO of BrightSky Labs as well as a Technologist-in-Residence at Greylock Partners, where he led tech evaluations for potential investments and provided strategy consulting to portfolio companies. Prior to this, he established and lead the Interaction Ecologies Group at Nokia, leading multiple innovative efforts in mobile forms and experiences in the areas of wearables, Internet of Things, and augmented reality. He has also held a variety of senior technology leadership roles at NeoCarta Ventures, Lycos and WhoWhere.

He will be based in the Bay Area, primarily working out of our headquarters in Mountain View.

Welcome Sean!

chris

Background:

Sean’s bio & Mozillians profile

LinkedIn profile

High-res photo

Introducing Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map, Our New Blueprint for Teaching People About the Web

Within the next decade, the number of individuals with access to the Internet will rise to five billion. These billions of new users, many from emerging markets, have the potential to experience unprecedented personal, civic and economic opportunity online — but only if they have the necessary skills to meaningfully wield the Internet.

To this end, Mozilla is dedicated to empowering people with the knowledge they need to read, write and participate online. We define this knowledge as “web literacy” — a collection of core skills and competencies like search engine know-how, design basics, online privacy fundamentals, and a working understanding of sharing, open source licensing and remixing.

We don’t believe everyone needs to learn how to code in order to be web literate. But when everyone has a fundamental understanding of web mechanics, they’re able to realize the Internet’s full potential. Learning and teaching these skills — combined with 21st-century skills like collaboration and problem solving — allows more and diverse people to shape the Web. And this helps grow a stronger, healthier open Internet.

When users aren’t web literate, they become disenfranchised from the open Internet. And the Internet itself suffers, too — without new and diverse users, it becomes more closed, more commercial, more monolithic.

We believe web literacy is as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. When teaching these three Rs, we rely on centuries of experience. But the Internet has no clear educational roadmap. Mozilla created the Web Literacy Map, version 2.0 as a resource to fill this gap and aid educators around the globe who are teaching and learning the Web.

The Map is an interactive, detailed framework that outlines and defines the key web literacy and 21st-century skills needed to realize the Internet’s full potential. The Map also provides hands-on activities for teaching and learning these skills.

Mozilla staff and volunteers worked for several months to create and launch the Map. A diverse collection of researchers, educators, scientists, entrepreneurs and others contributed research, interviews, surveys and focus groups.

Explore Mozilla’s new Web Literacy Map ≫

Whether you’re a first-time smartphone user or accomplished programmer, we encourage you to explore the Map, and to use it as a resource as you teach and learn the Web with those around you.

An-Me Chung is the Mozilla Foundation’s Director of Strategic Partnerships.

Mozilla community members teach the Web in Indonesia. Credit: Laura de Reynal

Mozilla community members teach the Web in Indonesia. Credit: Laura de Reynal

Everyday Internet Users Can Stand Up for Encryption — Here’s How

At Mozilla, we believe encryption is critical to the health of the Web. It allows us to live, work and play on a more secure Internet. Encryption helps keep the Internet exceptional.

Today, encryption is being threatened around the world. More and more governments are proposing policies that would harm user security by weakening encryption. From France to Australia to the UK, these suggested measures would thwart strong encryption for everyday Internet users. And in the U.S., the FBI was asking Apple to undermine the security of its own products.

At Mozilla, our thoughts are with the victims of recent attacks around the world. Horrific events are a moment where we must not give in to fear and weaken encryption — because encryption is a tool we all rely on every day to keep important information secure, like our financial and medical details.

The latest video in Mozilla’s public education encryption campaign explores threats to encryption around the world:

There is reason for hope — like the open Internet movement’s proven ability to take a stand and make a difference. That’s why we first started our encryption education campaign. We knew encryption would need strong, grassroots support in the coming months and years.

Now, we’re asking everyday Internet users to take an active stand. Sign our pledge to become an encryption champion standing alongside Mozilla.

By adding your name, you’re pledging to take future action to help protect encryption when it matters most. You’re joining a grassroots movement that can call policy makers, share encryption software and tips, and more, if and when necessary. We’re going to need your help with these things in the months and years ahead.

We still have time to speak up and make a difference. The power to protect strong encryption is in our hands — I hope you’ll join Mozilla and stand up for encryption today. Share our videos with your friends and join the over three million people who learned more about how encryption works, why it matters and why it’s worth protecting.

Firefox for iOS adds Security Features

We’re always working to make Firefox as great as possible on all platforms. Today, we’re adding features to Firefox for iOS to protect your security.

The Firefox Password Manager securely stores and autofills your usernames and passwords across sites you visit. Firefox for iOS now lets you add a 4-digit passcode to the Password Manager to keep your information more secure while helping you browse faster without slowing down to retype login details. With this feature, if your phone somehow ends up out of your hands, your passwords have an extra layer of protection.

On all iOS devices where Touch ID is currently available, you can quickly use your fingerprint to access saved logins.

As always, when you open the latest version of Firefox for iOS, you’ll see all the other updates we’ve added to make it great.

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For more information:

Co-Chairing the US Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Advisory Board

The U.S. Department of Commerce has just created a Board of Advisors for topics related to the Digital Economy.  I will participate as one of the two co-chairs, along with Zoë Baird, President and CEO of the Markle Foundation.  The Digital Economy Board of Advisors is to provide regular advice to the Secretary of Commerce from leaders in industry, academia, and civil society on the Department’s new Digital Economy Agenda. The Agenda is focused on advancing the Internet and the digital economy across many frontiers, including promoting innovation, a free and open Internet, trust online, and Internet access for all Americans.

The Board of Advisors has been charged with taking a broad, strategic look at the digital economy, including how best to promote innovation and development of new technologies, and the impact of Internet policy issues such as cybersecurity and privacy on the digital economy. I expect the the Board of Advisors will consider whether, when, and how the U.S. government should take direct regulatory and policy action, and when not to do so. The Department of Commerce has a key leadership role within the U.S. government on these issues.

Read more about the Commerce Department’s Digital Agenda here and see the Advisory Board’s announced appointments here.

User Security Relies on Encryption

Security of users is paramount. Technology companies need to do everything in their power to ensure the security of their users and build products and services with strong security measures in place to do that.

At Mozilla, it’s part of our mission to safeguard the Web and to take a stand on issues that threaten the health of the Internet. People need to understand and engage with encryption as a core technology that keeps our everyday transactions and conversations secure. That’s why, just days before the Apple story broke, we launched an awareness campaign to educate users on the importance of encryption.

The Apple vs. FBI case

We’ve supported Apple since we first heard of the FBI request to Apple because this case is about user security and public safety.

The government is requiring Apple to create a flawed version of its software without key security features. The precedent this sets could drastically affect our users and every technology company. This can cause ripple effects across the industry to other technologies and companies.  And it would make it more likely that other governments would request the creation of this kind of flawed software. This situation is understandably emotionally-charged, but we don’t have the luxury of saying “just this one time.”

Last week, the FBI said in a brief that Apple purposefully created its products to be warrant-proof and that this fight is a marketing decision for Apple. The view that any company would design products with the goal of being “warrant proof” is ludicrous. Companies like Mozilla decide to create security features to protect users, keep the bad guys away and contribute to public safety, not to make their technology warrant proof. Unfortunately, making something that can be easily hacked by the FBI means making something that can be easily hacked by bad guys too.

Code is Speech

We also think that the FBI’s request raises serious concerns around the First Amendment and free speech. We said so in an amicus brief we filed earlier this month with a coalition of technology companies. For many technology companies their code represents their view on security.  For Mozilla, as an open source company, because our code is made publicly available and guided by our Manifesto, it is an essential way we express our views about security and many other issues.

One of the most important things about this case is that it has created mainstream discourse about some very important topics relevant to all our users – encryption, user security and government access to data. Encryption is an essential and ubiquitous security tool and weakening our security tools undermines everyday Internet users’ security.

Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Chief Business & Legal Officer at Mozilla in conversation with Jochai Ben-Avie, Senior Global Policy Manager on the ongoing encryption conversation & the responsibility of tech companies to defend security.

Mozilla Pushes the Web to New Levels as a Platform for Games

The Web is the platform for game development and we’ll be showing it in action at this year’s Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. Powerful new capabilities continue to emerge and gain mindshare with developers and gamers alike as the open Web games stack reaches ubiquity.

  • Technologies pioneered by Mozilla, such as WebGL, WebVR and asm.js are all gaining momentum.
  • Today, WebAssembly, the next evolution of asm.js, is available as an experiment for testing in Firefox Nightly.
  • Launching this week at GDC, Open Web Games is a site for developers and browser makers to demonstrate modern Web game technologies, stress-test browser implementations and collaborate on maintaining the stability and evolution of the Web games stack over time using a variety of real-world games and demos.
  • Next generation Web technologies such as WebGL 2, SIMD.js and Shared Array Buffer are also now available for anyone to explore in Firefox Nightly.
  • To advance WebVR, Mozilla recently announced version 1.0 of the WebVR API proposal.
  • Mozilla is investing in helping developers move titles based on plugins to Web technologies through the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) and direct engineering support.

Over the last year the industry has continued to demonstrate its support for the open Web stack:

  • Unity, one of the largest and best-regarded game engines in the industry, showed that the Web stack is ready for prime time by removing the ‘Preview’ label from their amazing WebGL exporter which takes advantage of WebGL and asm.js.
  • Autodesk, a leader in 3D design and animation tools, is showing a tech preview of Web export support with its Stingray game engine.
  • Indy mobile developers like EVERYDAYiPLAY are expanding their revenue streams by building for the Web with games like Heroes of Paragon. They report Daily Average Revenue per User (DARPU) numbers that are much better for the Web version of their game than the Android Play store and are very competitive, relative to iOS.

EVERYDAYiPLAY-DARPU

  • Major browsers have adopted more of the key APIs needed to enable the next generation of Web games. The industry’s top brands are coming out with growing support for the Web, making it easier than ever for developers to create for and succeed on the Web platform.

timelineFor more information:

  • If you’re at GDC, come see us at booth 936 on the Lower Level of the South Hall.
  • If you’re a member of the press and have a question, please email press@mozilla.com and we’ll help you out.
  • To learn more about what Mozilla is doing at GDC, read articles from developers or learn how to get involved, please visit games.mozilla.org.

Mozilla A-Frame Powers New Amnesty International Virtual Reality Website #360Syria

Amnesty International today announced a new #360Syria “virtual tour” website showing the devastation brought by Syrian government barrel bombing of the besieged city of Aleppo. The website demonstration, called “Fear of the Sky” (www.360Syria.com), is built using Mozilla A-Frame technology.

Websites like #360Syria, that allow viewers to take a virtual tour of the devastated city of Aleppo, are a significant new use case for WebVR. Technology gives people a voice where otherwise there is none. It brings a new level of visibility and greater levels of empathy to real-life situations.

The #360Syria website comprises specially-created 360-degree photography, narration, sound recordings, 3-D data graphics and videos gathered by Amnesty-trained Syrian media activists. The site was created in partnership with San Francisco design and technology company Junior (www.junior.io).

A-Frame is an open source framework that simplifies WebVR development and enables easy creation of WebVR experiences with HTML. Because A-Frame is built around building blocks that can be extended and combined into limitless combinations, it provides a high degree of creative freedom.It is designed and maintained by MozVR (Mozilla’s virtual reality research team) and optimizes for a smooth learning curve between ease-of-use for developers who are new to virtual reality technology and increased flexibility for advanced developers.

At Mozilla one of our goals is to bring high-performance, responsive virtual reality technology to the open Web. We launched A-Frame, an open source library for creating virtual reality Web experiences, so that Web developers could create virtual reality websites from a single line of HTML code and bypass complex 3D APIs like WebGL.

Our hope is that A-Frame provides a constructive contribution to a growing pantheon of WebVR development tools, helping to grow the number of VR Web developers and experiences.

More information:
About Mozilla VR (MozVR)
Getting Started with Mozilla A-Frame
Amnesty International #360Syria blog post

Encryption, Journalism and Free Expression

Over the past several weeks, Mozilla has been running an educational campaign about encryption. We believe it’s essential for everyday Internet users to better understand the technology that helps keep the Web a more secure platform.

So far, we’ve explored encryption’s role in helping protect users’ personal, intimate information. We’ve created an animated short that uses plain language to explain how encryption works. And we’ve expressed our support for Apple in its ongoing case against the FBI.

Today, we’re spotlighting how encryption can support not only our personal security, but also how it can play a role in promoting values like free expression that most of us hold dear.

Recently, Mozilla spoke with Trevor Timm, Executive Director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports and defends journalism dedicated to transparency and accountability. “Increasingly, encryption is playing a huge role in upholding free expression rights,” Trevor says. You can learn more by watching our interview below:

I hope you’ll take a moment, hear Trevor, and share this video with friends and family. Broadening public understanding of encryption is the first step toward protecting it. We’ve learned that an informed public is one of the open Internet movement’s most powerful tools.

Mozilla is also supporting encryption by placing a technologist, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, at the Freedom Of The Press Foundation. It’s part of our Open Web Fellows program — if you are interested in this program, apply by March 20.

Thanks for being involved and for joining the discussion about encryption. It’s an important moment for all of us to be talking about these issues.

Updates to Firefox Hello Beta

Firefox Hello Beta is a communication tool that lets you share tabs you’re browsing in Firefox with others and chat over video or text, free and without needing an account or login. Firefox Hello Beta in Windows, Mac and Linux helps you discuss and make decisions about anything online by sharing the website you’re browsing in your conversation. This makes it easier and faster to do things like to shop online together with friends, plan a vacation with the family or collaborate on work with a colleague.

When you click the Firefox Hello icon Firefox Hello Beta in Firefox and invite someone to your conversation, Hello will instantly share the tab you’re viewing with them when they join.

Firefox Hello on Windows, Mac and Linux is developed with our partner Telefónica and we’re always working on adding features, including the ability to pause sharing and more.

We hope you enjoy using the updated Firefox Hello Beta and we look forward to sharing more updates about new features we’re testing on our Future Releases Blog.

More information: