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:

International Women’s Day; Time to Take Action

Tuesday March 8 2016 is International Women’s Day (IWD).  While Mozilla celebrates the progress to date we also realize there is a great deal of critical work still needed. The Internet can play an enormous role in improving the lives and opportunities of women, girls and their families. This is why I am honored to participate in the United Nations’ first High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, which was launched this January. I am eager to emphasize the positive effects of technology and the Open Internet as part of the Panel’s work. I am also intent on representing voices from around the globe in this discussion, and have begun collecting input to do this.

You can learn more about work in these topics and read my thoughts on how the Internet can empower women in a post on my blog.

Standing Up with Apple to Fight for Everyone’s Security

Mozilla today is joining a coalition of technology companies, including Google, Nest Labs, Facebook, WhatsApp, Evernote, Snapchat and Microsoft, in filing an amicus brief in support of Apple’s position in its ongoing dispute with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In our brief we are urging the district court not to force Apple to undo its own security protections to break into an iPhone.

Ultimately, companies like Mozilla are constantly striving to build more secure products. We make decisions every single day intended to protect our users. But those decisions affect all our users, which means Mozilla cannot weaken security for one user without effectively weakening it for everybody else. And it also means we cannot stand by as other companies are required to do so.

We are filing the amicus brief to help the court understand why it is dangerous to force technology companies to actively undermine their own security features. Opposing the FBI order is about taking a stand for public safety. It is the responsibility of technology companies to build as strong a product as possible to protect all users. We’ve already seen what weak security can do. We think users want more security, not less security. Tech companies should aspire to build “unhackable” products. With this precedent, we could all be told not to build secure products in the first place.

Security is critical to the continued evolution and growth of the Internet. It’s part of our mission to safeguard the Web, we consider it part of our job to take a stand on issues that threaten the health of the Internet.

Update on Connected Devices Innovation Process: Four Projects Move Forward

The Internet of Things is changing the world around us, with new use cases, experiences and technologies emerging every day. As we continue to experiment in this space, we wanted to take a moment to share more details around our approach, process and current projects we’re testing.

We are focused on a gated innovation process that includes time to brainstorm solutions to real life problems and evaluate the market opportunity for these ideas. Additionally, we are aligning ourselves with users when it comes to simplicity, ease-of-use and engaging experiences, while ensuring everything is built with the Mozilla values of openness, transparency, privacy and user control at the core.

We have identified a shortlist of experiments as our first group of projects in need of community participation to help us develop, test and evaluate.  We’re excited to say that our first round of projects cover a wide range of potential solutions, as you can see below:

  • Project Link: Your personal user agent that understands your preferences for how you want to interact with the world of devices in your home, and automate your connected world for you. All of this still done conveniently and securely, but completely under your control.
  • Project Sensor Web: The easiest path from sensors to open data for contributors to collaboratively build a detailed understanding of their living environments. We are launching a pilot project to build a crowdsourced pm2.5 sensor network.
  • Project Smart Home: A middle ground between “in a box” solutions like Apple Homekit and DIY solutions like Raspberry Pi. Combining modular, affordable hardware with easy-to-use rules, Smart Home empowers people to solve unique everyday problems in new and creative ways.
  • Project Vaani: An IoT enabler package to developers, device makers and users who want to add a voice interface to their devices in a flexible and customizable way. We will prototype interactions at home in near term, and in future, showcase the ability to access services from the open Web.

We cannot do this without our dedicated and passionate community of developers and volunteers serving in an array of roles, as they are critical at ensuring each project has the best opportunity at making an impact. If you are interested in participating as a developer or tester, please click here to get involved.

We look forward to giving you updates on these projects as we continue to innovate with you all, out in the open.

This post was originally posted on the Future Release blog.

Firefox OS will Power New Line-up of Panasonic Ultra HD TVs

Panasonic announced today that Firefox OS will power the new Panasonic DX-series UHD TVs.

Panasonic TVs powered by Firefox OS are already available globally. These TVs have intuitive and customizable home screens which give you “quick access” to Live TV, Apps and personal connected devices. You can access your favorite channels, apps, videos, websites and content quickly – and you can also pin any app or content to your TV home screen.

What’s New in Firefox OS For TVs

Panasonic plans to update the DX-series UHD TVs, first announced in Europe, with a new version of Firefox OS later this year. This update will give you a new way to discover Web Apps and save them to your TV. Firefox OS will feature Web Apps with curated Web content optimized for TV, such as games, news, video on demand, weather and more. You will also get an easy “click to watch” content discovery experience with no installation necessary.

Panasonic’s DX-series UHD TVs powered by Firefox OS will also get new features that provide a seamless Firefox experience across multiple platforms. A new “send to TV” feature will allow you to easily share Web content from Firefox for Android to a Firefox OS-powered TV.

Mozilla and Panasonic have been collaborating since 2014 to provide consumers with intuitive, optimized user experiences and allow them to enjoy the benefits of the Open Web platform.

For more information:

Mozilla Introduces Surveillance Principles for a Secure, Trusted Internet

#encryption

Security is paramount to a trusted Internet. Encryption is a critical part of how that trust is made real. The recent events around Apple and the FBI set a dangerous precedent. Our position on these issues is simple: the FBI should not be able to require a technology company to create code that “undoes” years of security enhancements by creating additional vulnerabilities.

Even when legitimate, government surveillance can cause massive harm to user security and the Internet. Governments don’t always take this harm into account when conducting their surveillance activities. The Apple case is just the latest example. We propose that governments adopt basic principles that guide the scope of their surveillance activities, balancing their legitimate needs with the broader good:

  • User Security: Governments need to strengthen user security, including the best encryption, not weaken it.
  • Minimal Impact: Government surveillance should minimize impact on user trust and security.
  • Accountability: Surveillance activities need empowered, independent, and transparent oversight.

These principles were not proposed in a vacuum. At Mozilla, we believe that user privacy and security is fundamental, that the Internet is a global public resource, and that transparent processes promote trust and accountability. Those ideas shouldn’t just apply to the way Mozilla builds its products. They can help all of us, including governments, create a safer, more trusted Internet.

So what can you do? Help advocate by being a voice for these principles. As a member of the public, talk about these issues (#encryption), share the principles and encourage your policymakers and governments to get serious about protecting users from the harms of surveillance. If you are a policymaker, you can go even further by implementing basic principles that help us all create a more secure and trusted Internet.

Continuing the Conversation About Encryption and Apple: A New Video From Mozilla

In the past week, the conversation about encryption has reached fever pitch. Encryption, Apple, and the FBI are in headlines around the world. And lively discussions about security and privacy are taking place around kitchen tables, on television, and in comment sections across the Internet.

Mozilla believes the U.S. government’s demand for Apple to circumvent their own security protections is a massive overreach. To require Apple to do this would set a dangerous precedent that threatens consumer security going forward. But this discussion is an opportunity to broaden public understanding of encryption. When people understand the role encryption plays in their everyday lives, we can all stand up for encryption when threats surface — this key issue related to the overall health of the Internet becomes mainstream.

Earlier this month — just days before the Apple story broke — Mozilla launched a public education campaign about encryption. We’re excited to continue this campaign alongside the new, robust conversations that have emerged.

Today, Mozilla is releasing the next installment in the campaign: a short film that animates encryption as a lovable character and unpacks how she works and why she’s so important.

We hope you’ll share this video with your friends and family — and then start a conversation about the issues that have come to the fore over the past week. Building grassroots support for a safe and open Internet is essential. It’s a tried and true tactic: kitchen table conversations and support from everyday Internet users helped uphold net neutrality. This is the power of the open Internet movement at work. Now, it’s time to do it again — let’s spread the word about encryption and help keep it safe.

Celebrating Our Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellows, and Looking Ahead

Today, the Internet we love and treasure is facing serious threats. Issues like mass surveillance and walled gardens, along with calls to weaken online security, increasingly endanger the Internet’s openness. Most recently, we saw the FBI ask Apple to circumvent their own devices’ security protections, setting a dangerous precedent that threatens consumers’ security. And in many parts of the world, especially emerging markets, inclusion and equality online aren’t guaranteed.

To address these threats, the Internet needs a new breed of advocate: individuals with both a technologist’s savvy and an activist’s zeal. We need advocates who can stand up for critical issues like privacy, inclusion, and literacy online, and ensure the Internet remains a public resource.

APPLY TODAY TO BE A FORD-MOZILLA OPEN WEB FELLOW

In 2015, Mozilla and the Ford Foundation launched the Open Web Fellows program to foster this type of advocate. We built an international leadership initiative to embed bright and passionate technology talent at leading civil society organizations. It’s a necessary step, and a topic we discussed in the Washington Post when the fellowship debuted.

Says Jenny Toomey, Ford Foundation’s Director of Internet Freedom:

“Technology is transforming every aspect of our world. But there aren’t enough technologists who are prepared to lend their vision to the public sector and make sure we’re building the kind of critical systems that can protect and empower us all. We need to make sure that the rights we have fought so hard to achieve are upheld and strengthened in the digital space. And we need to make sure that the people who are working to challenge inequality have the tools and infrastructure they need to do it well. That means having a diverse, creative cohort of public interest technologists, designers, and engineers working within civil society and governments.”

Now, almost 12 months later, we’re accepting applications for the second cohort of Open Web Fellows. This upcoming cohort of fellows will embed at civil society organizations on four continents.

We’re also celebrating the successes of our 2015 fellows. They’ve accomplished amazing things, which we share below.

To paint a clear picture of the Fellowship program and its impact, we asked our 2015 fellows to explain in their own words. Below, you’ll hear from Andrea Del Rio at Association for Progressive Communications (APC); Tennyson Holloway at Public Knowledge; Paola Villarreal at ACLU Massachusetts; Gem Barrett at Open Technology Institute (OTI); Drew Wilson at Free Press; and Tim Sammut at Amnesty International.

What does an Open Web Fellow look like?

There’s no formula or singular mold: Fellows are data architects and women’s rights activists, developers and designers. They hail from four countries and various points in their careers. But they share a common belief: The world can be made a better place by leveraging the open Internet.

Open Web Fellows are very talented technical people, but also have a sense of social duty. That’s what sets us apart.” — Andrea Del Rio

We all share a core understanding that an open Internet is important to modern society, and it needs to be protected.” — Tennyson Holloway

We all come at the open Web from different angles. We’re passionate about one topic, but come at it from a range of backgrounds with a holistic approach.” — Gem Barrett

What does an Open Web Fellow do?

Fellows dream up and create projects at the intersection of the Internet and civil society. They write code, develop apps, and pen blog posts. They host podcasts, attend conferences, and lead workshops. More broadly, fellows engage with the most important issues facing the Internet today: surveillance, inclusion, equality. Fellows work across organizations, borders, and time zones, networking and collaborating with like-minded technologists and do-gooders.

We’re pioneers. We’re technologists working for nonprofits doing relevant work.” — Andrea Del Rio

It’s about data and open source tools and advocacy. It’s about benefiting from the open Web.” — Paola Villarreal

It’s about making sure the Internet remains open and accessible for everyone. It’s also about expanding freedoms online to more people globally.” — Tim Sammut

Fellows are interested in social change activities in the long-term.” — Drew Wilson

Why apply?

Open Web Fellows have the opportunity to fight on the front lines of the open Internet movement. They help some of the world’s most established NGOs and civil society organizations navigate the vibrant and increasingly important realm of Internet advocacy. And fellows build valuable relationships with like-minded advocates.

Having access to all these tools, information, support, people, and resources is a life-changing experience. The work I have been doing during this fellowship has had, and will have, an impact.” — Paola Villarreal

You’re part of a much larger movement, and that’s definitely rewarding.” — Tennyson Holloway

If someone is passionate about improving the world, and wants a springboard into doing that as a career, this is for them.” — Gem Barrett

One of the best things about the fellowship has been the people I met in the Internet freedom community.” — Tim Sammut

What are the host organizations?

Key to the Open Web Fellow program are our host organizations: leading nonprofits around the globe devoted to improving the Internet and the lives of everyone it touches. Host organizations have diverse ambits, from law and human rights to gender equality and press freedom.

Our 2015 host organizations are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Massachusetts, Amnesty International, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Free Press, Open Technology Institute (OTI), and Public Knowledge.

Our 2016 host organizations are Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law, The Citizen Lab at Munk School of Global Affairs, ColorOfChange.org, Data & Society, Derechos Digitales, European Digital Rights (EDRi), Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Privacy International.

The Open Web Fellows Program connects the incredible wealth of tech talent with the justice-minded organizations that so badly need their skills. This is not just about bringing technologists into civil society organizations and government, but about strengthening critical institutions and helping them rise to meet the challenges of the digital age — some of which haven’t even been identified yet.” — Jenny Toomey, Director of Internet Freedom, Ford Foundation

Our 2015 Fellows

Andrea

 

Andrea Del Rio,

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

 

Andrea Del Rio is embedded at APC, the South Africa-based nonprofit expanding women’s rights and gender equality online with focus on the global south. Andrea’s digital savvy allows APC to advance this mission and present their work in a more dynamic and impactful way. Andrea is crafting an interactive platform for APC’s “Feminist Principles of the Internet,” a treatise bridging the gap between the feminist movement and the Internet rights movement. She is transforming the static document into an interactive community where activists can talk and share resources. When complete, the platform will live at http://feministinternet.net/.

I try to make a difference on the user interface.”

In November 2015, Andrea led a gender equality session at MozFest, Mozilla’s annual celebration of the open Internet. The session — “A Feminist Internet in 140 Characters” — brought together diverse makers, designers, and technologists who authored a list of open Web feminist principles.

The feminist principles of the Internet should be relevant to anyone who loves the Internet and is interested in gender equality.”

During her tenure as a fellow, Andrea has traveled to Malaysia, the Philippines, Mexico, the U.S., the UK, and South Africa.

Tennyson

 

Tennyson Holloway,

Public Knowledge

 

Tennyson works alongside Public Knowledge, the advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Its scope: issues at the intersection of public interest and technology. Public Knowledge explores and comments on troubling corporate mergers; advocates for issues like net neutrality; and upholds consumer protections. It’s here that Tennyson functions as a sorely-needed technologist among lawyers and policy experts.

Tennyson is also devoted to a series of self-directed projects. He created the SMS Vote Updater, a tool for subscribing to and monitoring legislators’ voting. Users text their zip code to the service and quickly receive a list of relevant legislators. Users then subscribe to select policymakers — and when policymakers vote on a bill in Congress, users get a notification detailing the vote and bill.

I was really excited to build this. I like the idea of increasing access. You can keep an eye on your legislator.”

Tennyson is also building whatcanidofortheinternet.org, a collection of resources and stories that detail how individuals can contribute to the Internet. The site motivates others to improve the Internet, and serves as a friendly gateway to the open Internet movement.

Alongside Fellows Andrea Del Rio and Drew Wilson, Tennyson produces the NetPosi podcast. The trio interviews technologists making a mark in the world of activism (or vice versa). Guests include Cory Doctorow and Wendy Seltzer.

It’s a podcast about the intersection of activism and technology.”

PV

 

Paola Villarreal,

ACLU Massachusetts

 

Paola is embedded at ACLU Massachusetts, a staple in the fight for individual rights and liberties. Here, Paola brings a technologist’s savvy (16 years of IT experience) to the world of social justice. She writes code and analyzes gigabits of data to battle inequality.

Paola’s capstone work is Data for Justice, an ambitious initiative that connects activists with data so they can drive change in their communities.

It empowers activists and advocates to make data-driven decisions.”

Specifically, Paola’s project analyzes data from the Boston Police Department and several other sources, spotlighting discriminatory practices. Findings are then showcased using a data visualization framework, titled Augmented Narrative Toolkit, developed explicitly for this project. And in true open source form, the Data for Justice project can be adapted to other cities around the world.

Paola has also traveled extensively as an Open Web Fellow, plugging into pockets of the open Internet movement around the world. She has attended and spoke at open source and open government gatherings in Mexico City, London, Hamburg, Harvard University, and beyond.

Gem

 

Gem Barrett,

Open Technology Institute (OTI)

 

Gem works with Open Technology Institute (OTI), an arm of New America focusing on open source innovation. It’s here that Gem writes, programs, designs, and speaks. Specifically, Gem is helping OTI build out their transparency and open data initiatives.

An open Web fellow gets embedded into an organization and offers their unique skills in order to promote the open Web.”

Gem is also committed to a range of satellite projects. She’s penned articles about making the open source ecosystem more inclusive (here and here), and planned events that explore the intersection of gaming and social justice.

You have the freedom to explore other opportunities outside of the organization for promoting your passion.”

Drew

 

Drew Wilson,

Free Press

 

Drew works with Free Press, a nonprofit that advocates for a healthy and free fourth estate. Here, Drew has helped shape Internet2016, an initiative to inject net policy issues into the 2016 election discourse. The approach is decidedly grassroots: Internet 2016 galvanizes Internet advocates to dog politicians on topics like mass surveillance, encryption, and access. Drew lent both his tech and advocacy acumen, building the web page and consulting on campaign content.

Drew has also tackled a number of personal projects. He co-hosts the NetPosi podcast alongside fellows Andrea and Tennyson.

NetPosi shares stories from people who do interesting work at the intersection of social change and technology.”

Drew curates Tools for Activism, a resource that lists digital tools for activists and technologists. It recently snagged front-page real estate on GitHub. Drew also built a couple of experimental web-tools-for-activism prototypes: a meme generator targeting 2016 presidential candidates (the goal: “empower people to be more politically engaged online”), and Printernet, a web application that assists small NGOs with print mailings.

Tim

 

Tim Sammut,

Amnesty International

 

Amnesty International stands up for human rights around the globe. As an Open Web Fellow, Tim furthers this mission in a 21st-century fashion. Currently, Tim is helping Amnesty pilot GlobaLeaks, and open source platform for the safer submission of sensitive information.

Tim is also building the Secure Communications Framework, a reference model for human rights researchers and activists seeking the right tools and practices for sensitive work. It’s a matrix for identifying safer, more secure, and reliable channels for carrying out work in dangerous regions. The framework can help people maintain privacy and avoid arrest, detention, or worse.

[It’s for] a researcher that may be an expert in their field with first-hand knowledge of the challenges that surround them, but is uncertain which digital tools and practices will enable their work without simultaneously undermining their safety.”