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.

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.