Announcing Mozilla Fellow, Eric Rescorla

David Bryant

I am pleased to announce that Eric Rescorla has been appointed Mozilla Fellow, a vice-president level role created to recognize top technical leadership at Mozilla. This new role is a complement to the organization’s existing Distinguished Engineers award and is distinct from Mozilla’s other existing fellowship programs. As part of Mozilla’s executive leadership team, Eric will provide key technical expertise and representation for Engineering broadly in all aspects of company decision making. Continue reading …

Firefox Gives You More Control Over Your Data in Private Browsing

Mozilla

Today, we are giving you more control over how your data is shared in Firefox by letting you block additional trackers in Private Browsing with Tracking Protection.

en-changelist(1)We recently introduced Private Browsing with Tracking Protection to give you control over the data that third parties receive from you online. The list of trackers blocked by Tracking Protection in Private Browsing is based on the blocklist provided by our partner Disconnect.

A basic protection list is on by default in Private Browsing with Tracking Protection and it shields against many ad, analytics and social trackers. If you want increased protection from tracking, Firefox now allows you to choose a ‘strict’ protection blocklist which will block additional content trackers such as those often found in video, photo and embeddable content. Choosing this list comes with a tradeoff because Disconnect has received reports from users of some sites not working properly and in some cases being unusable, when this ‘strict’ list is used.

We are continuing to experiment and get feedback on ways to improve Tracking Protection through tests in our Nightly release channel.

More information:

Firefox OS Pivot to Connected Devices

Ari Jaaksi Ari Jaaksi

Everything is connected around us. This revolution has already started and it will be bigger than previous technology revolutions, including the mobile smartphone revolution. Internet of Things, as many call it today, will fundamentally affect all of us.

We will prototype this future starting right now using technologies developed as part of the Firefox OS project to give us a kick start. Continue reading …

Focus by Firefox – Content Blocking for the Open Web

Denelle Dixon-Thayer

Today we are launching Focus by Firefox, a free content blocker for Safari users on iOS 9. The app allows users to control their data flow by blocking categories of trackers such as those used for ads, analytics and social media and allows increased performance on mobile devices by blocking Web fonts.

We want to build an Internet that respects users, puts them in control, and creates and maintains trust. Too many users have lost trust and lack meaningful controls over their digital lives. This loss of trust has impacted the ecosystem – sometimes negatively. Content blockers offer a way to rebuild that trust by empowering users. At the same time, it is important that these tools are used to create a healthy, open ecosystem that supports commercial activity, instead of being used to lock down the Web or to discriminate against certain industries or content. That’s why we articulated our three content blocking principles.

We’ve now put these principles into action. We made Focus by Firefox because we believe content blockers need to be transparent with publishers and other content providers about how lists are created and maintained, rather than placing certain content in a permanent penalty box. We want this product to encourage a discussion about users and content providers, instead of monetizing users’ mistrust and pulling value out of the Web ecosystem. Focus by Firefox is free to users and we don’t monetize it in other ways.

For many content blockers, the standards used to determine what gets blocked aren’t clear. They aren’t transparent about their choices. They don’t provide ways for blocked content providers to improve and become unblocked. And some content blockers remove companies from a list in exchange for payment.

With Focus by Firefox, we are taking a different approach. To do this, we’ve based a portion of our product on a list provided by our partner Disconnect under the General Public License. We think Disconnect’s public list provides a good starting point that demonstrates the value of open data. It bases its list on a public definition of tracking and publicly identifies any changes it makes to that list, so users and content providers can see and understand the standards it is applying. The fact that those standards are public means that content providers–in this case those that are tracking users–have an opportunity to improve their practices. If they do so, Disconnect has a process in place for content providers to become unblocked, creating an important feedback loop between users and content providers.

Content blocking is new terrain for us and we don’t have all the answers yet. As an industry, we need to figure out how to make these feedback mechanisms much more robust, so that content providers have a stronger incentive to put users in command of their online experience. And we need to understand better what users want. Some care about privacy. Others on mobile care about performance. So while Focus by Firefox is launching geared towards giving more choice over tracking, we plan to provide control over performance and data usage.

As we innovate on this product, we’ll be transparent about our decisions and work to create and improve those feedback loops between users and content providers. This is how we believe blocking tools can strengthen the commercial activity that underlies the Internet while giving users control and earning back their trust.

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Visualizing the Invisible

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff Jascha Kaykas-Wolff

Today, online privacy and threats like invisible tracking from third parties on the Web seem very abstract. Many of us are either not aware of what’s happening with our online data or we feel powerless because we don’t know what to do. More and more, the Internet is becoming a giant glass house where your personal information is exposed to third parties who collect and use it for their own purposes.

We recently released Private Browsing with Tracking Protection in Firefox – a feature focused on providing anyone using Firefox with meaningful choice over third parties on the Web that might be collecting data without their understanding or control. This is a feature which addresses the need for more control over privacy online but is also connected to an ongoing and important debate around the preservation of a healthy, open Web ecosystem and the problems and possible solutions to the content blocking question.

The Glass House

Earlier this month we dedicated a three-day event to the topic of online privacy in Hamburg, Germany. Today, we would like to share some impressions from the event and also an experiment we filmed on the city’s famous Reeperbahn.

Our experiment?

We set out to see if we could explain something that is not easily visible, online privacy, in a very tangible way. We built an apartment fully equipped with everything one needs to enjoy a short trip to Germany’s northern pearl. We made the apartment available to various travelers arriving to stay the night. Once they logged onto the apartment’s Wi-Fi, all the walls were removed, revealing the travelers to onlookers and external commotion caused when their private information turned out to be public.

The travelers’ responses are genuine.

That said, we did bring in a few actors for dramatic effect to help highlight a not-so-subtle reference to what can happen to your data when you aren’t paying attention. Welcome to the glass house.

While the results of the experiment are intended to educate and generate awareness, we also captured the participants’ thoughts and feelings after the reveal. Here are some of most poignant reactions:

Discussing the State of Data Control on the Web Today

Over the next two days, in that same glass house, German technology and privacy experts, Hamburg’s Digital Media Women group, the Mozilla community and people interested in the topic of online privacy came together to discuss the State of Data and Control on the Web.

We kicked-off with a panel discussion. Moderated by Svenja Teichmann, founder and Managing Director of crowdmedia, German data protection experts spoke about various aspects of online privacy protection and questions like “What is private nowadays?” while passersby could look over their shoulders through the glass walls.

Glass House: Panel DIscussion on Online PrivacyFrom left to right: Lars Reppesgaard (Author, “The Google Empire”), Svenja Teichmann (crowdmedia), Frederick Richter (Chairman German Data Protection Foundation) and Winston Bowden (Sr. Manager Firefox Product Marketing)

Frederick Richter pointed to the user’s uncertainty: “On the Web we are not aware of who is watching us. And many people can’t protect their privacy online, because they don’t have easy features to use.” Lars Reppesgaard is not fundamentally against tracking but thinks users must have a choice: “If you want the technology to help you, it has to collect data sometimes. But for most users it’s not obvious when and by whom they are tracked.” When it came to the new Tracking Protection feature in Private Browsing on Firefox, Winston Bowden emphasized: “We are not an enemy of online advertising. It’s a legitimate source of income and guarantees highly exciting content on the Web. But tracking users without them knowing or tracking them even if they actively decided against it, won’t work. The open and free Web is a valuable asset, which we should protect. Users have to be in control of their data.”

Educating and Engaging

Finally, German Mozilla community members joined the event to inform and educate people about how Firefox can help users gain control over their online experience. They explained the background and genesis of Tracking Protection but also showed tools such as Lightbeam and talked about Smart On Privacy and Web Literacy programs to offer better insight into how the Web works.

Glass House: Community Engagement Thanks to all who worked behind the scenes and/or came to Hamburg and made this event possible. We appreciate your help educating and advocating for people about their choice and control over online privacy.

Firefox Users Can Now Choose Their Favorite Browser on iOS

Nick Nguyen

If you’re an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch user you’ll be happy to learn that Firefox for iOS is now available in the App Store worldwide.

Firefox for iOS lets you take your favorite browser with you wherever you go with the Firefox features you already love including smart and flexible search, intuitive tab management, syncing with Firefox Accounts and Private Browsing.

You can use Firefox Accounts to sync your browsing history, tabs and passwords and bring bookmarks from your other devices to Firefox for iOS.

  • Search suggestions  predict what you’re looking for in your favorite search engine.
  • Visual Tabs allow you to easily manage multiple tabs on the same screen.
  • Private Browsing gives you the ability to browse the Web without saving history or sharing existing cookies with the sites you visit.

Firefox for iOSTo make Firefox easy to reach on your iOS device you can add it to the dock on the bottom of your home screen.

I hope you enjoy the first ever release of Firefox for iOS, and expect to see much more from us soon as we are going full speed ahead on continuously delivering new features. I’m proud of the team for getting us to where we are today and excited about where we’ll be in the future.

Thanks for trying us out.

A New Yahoo Search Experience for Firefox Users in U.S.

Denelle Dixon-Thayer

Today, we are excited that Firefox users in the U.S. will see a new, improved, innovative and fun experience on Yahoo Search. A year ago we entered into a strategic partnership with Yahoo to be the default search experience for Firefox users in the U.S. We ended our practice of having a single global default search provider for Firefox because we wanted to encourage growth in search, provide users with local choices and promote innovation in the space.

We have accomplished a lot over the last year. We worked closely with Yahoo to improve the search experience for our U.S. users. And, while we tend to be an opinionated and passionate project, Yahoo has been collaborative and flexible as we’ve provided continual feedback. Ultimately, these advances in the experience improve the competitive landscape for search which is good for our users.

yahoo-mockingjay2-awsomebar2-1Firefox users in the U.S. can try this exclusive new search experience in the Firefox Awesome bar on Windows, Mac and Linux. Yahoo Search has been redesigned to surface relevant, actionable answers and display images and videos up front so that you can browse, find and discover more about your queries. You can learn more about the new Yahoo Search experience here.

Give it a try and let them know what you think!