Several tech companies are asking the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation that would prevent the FBI from obtaining people’s browser history without a warrant. The tech companies include: Mozilla, Reddit, Twitter, and Patreon.
Mozilla Corporation, Engine, Reddit, Inc., Reform Government Surveillance, Twitter, i2Coalition, and Patreon sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary Jerry Nadler, and Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. From the letter:
We urge you to explicitly prohibit the warrantless collection of internet search and browsing history when you consider the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6172) next week. As leading internet businesses and organizations, we believe privacy and security are essential to our economy our businesses, and the continued growth of the free and open internet. By clearly reaffirming these protections, Congress can help preserve user trust and facilitate the continued use of the internet as a powerful contributing force for our recovery.
This comes after the U.S. Senate voted down an amendment to the USA Patriot Act that would create a tougher standard for government investigators to collect web search and browsing histories of people in the states.
It was a bipartisan amendment that would have required the Department of Justice to show probable cause when requesting approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to collect the data for counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigations.
The Mozilla Blog posted detailed information about all the ways the Firefox browser brings privacy protections front and center and lets you track the trackers.
In September of 2019, Mozilla announced that Firefox will block third-party tracking, cookies, and cryptomining. They released Enhanced Tracking Protection that would be turned on by default for all Firefox users worldwide as part of the “Standard” setting in the Firefox browser.
But now with growing threats to your privacy, it’s clear that you need more visibility into how you’re being tracked online so you can better combat it. That’s why today we’re introducing a new feature that offers you a free report outlining the number of third-party and social media trackers blocked automatically by the Firefox browser with Enhanced Tracking Protection.
The Firefox Privacy Protections report includes:
See how many times Enhanced Tracking Protection blocks an attempt to tag you with cookies. Part of the Enhanced Tracking Protection prevents third-party trackers from building a profile of you based on your online activity. Now, you’ll see the number of cross-site and social media trackers, fingerprinters, and cryptominers blocked on your behalf.
Keep up to date on data breaches with Firefox Mozilla. Now, you can view at a glance a summary of the number of unsafe passwords that have been used in a breach, so that you can take action to change those passwords.
Manage your passwords and synced devices with Firefox Lockwise. Now, you can get a brief look at the number of passwords you have safely stored with Firefox Lockwise. They also added a button where you can click to view your logins and update. You’ll also have the ability to quickly view and manage how many devices you are syncing and sharing your passwords with.
I’ve been using the Firefox browser since Mozilla added the protections in September. I like that it prevents someone else from using my computer for cryptomining. I’m also happy that Firefox blocks tracking, prevents cookies, and stops websites from collecting my data.
Mozilla announced that Firefox 69 on desktop and Android will, by default, empower all users by blocking third-party tracking cookies and cryptominers. Mozilla calls this a major step in their multi-year effort to bring stronger, usable, privacy protections to everyone using Firefox.
For today’s release, Enhanced Tracking Protection will automatically be turned on by default for all users worldwide as part of the ‘Standard’ setting in the Firefox browser and will block known “third-party tracking cookies” according to the Disconnect list.
Mozilla notes that they first enabled this default feature for new users in June of 2019. Mozilla also points out that over 20% of Firefox users have Enhanced Tracking Protection on. With this new release, they expect to provide protection for 100% of their users by default.
Enhanced Tracking Protection, Mozilla explains, works behind-the-scenes to keep a company from forming a profile of you based on their tracking of your browsing behavior across websites – often without your consent or knowledge. Those profiles and information may be sold for purposes that you never knew or intended.
How can you tell when Enhanced Tracking Protection is working? It is working when you visit a site and see a shield icon in the address bar.
In addition, Firefox 69 will protect users from cryptominers, who attempt to access the CPU of other people’s computers in order to generate cryptocurrency for themselves. The option to block cryptominers is included in the ‘Standard Mode’ of the Content Blocking preferences in Firefox 69.
I love when companies make an effort to protect the privacy of their users. It is a rare thing in today’s world, were so many websites and corporations feel that they are entitled to harvest as much data as they can grab. It is also good that Mozilla’s Firefox 69 will block cryptominers. It is wrong (and incredibly selfish) to sneakily access someone else’s computer for the purpose of cryptomining.
Three big browser makers are now blocking the use of a root certificate that Kazakhstan’s government had used to intercept internet traffic. According to Ars Technica, Khazakhstan reportedly said it halted the use of the certificate. Ars Technica reported that the actions taken by Google, Mozilla, and Apple could protect users who already installed it or prevent future use of the certificate by Kazakstan’s government.
Apple told Ars Technica that it is blocking the ability to use the certificate to intercept internet traffic.
Mozilla posted on The Mozilla Blog “Today, Mozilla and Google took action to protect the online security and privacy of individuals in Kazakhstan. Together, the companies deployed technical solutions within Firefox and Chrome to block the Kazakhstan government’s ability to intercept internet traffic within the country.”
The response comes after credible reports that internet service providers in Kazakhstan have required people in the country to download and install a government-issued certificate on all devices and in every browser in order to access the internet. This certificate is not trusted by either of the companies, and once installed, allowed the government to decrypt and read anything a user types or posts, including intercepting their account information and passwords. This targeted people visiting popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, among others.
Google posted information on its Google Security Blog. Part of that blog post says: “In response to recent actions by the Kazakhstan government, Chrome, along with other browsers, has taken steps to protect users from the interception or modification of TLS connections made to websites.”
It continues: “Chrome will be blocking the certificate the Kazakhstan government required users to install. The blog post has more specific details about that certificate.
It is good that these companies, all of whom make browsers, are taking a stand against government intrusion into people’s privacy. I hope that these companies will take the same action whenever another government chooses to spy on its own people in an effort to sneakily discover what those people do online.
Mozilla has created the Facebook Container Extension It functions similarly to Mozilla’s Multi-Account Containers. The Facebook Container Extension was designed specifically to help Firefox users have more control of their data on Facebook.
The Facebook Container Extension helps people who are using Firefox to control more of their web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. Mozilla says this makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.
Rather than stop using a service you find valuable and miss out on those adorable photos of your nephew, we think you should have tools to limit what data others can collect about you. That includes us: Mozilla does not collect data from your use of the Facebook Container extension. We only know the number of times the extension is installed or removed.
When you install the Facebook Container Extension, it will delete your Facebook cookies and log you out of Facebook. The next time you visit Facebook, it will open in a new blue-colored browser (the “container tab). In that tab, you can login and use Facebook as you normally would. If you click on a non-Facebook link, it will load outside of the container.
I think this is a useful tool for people who value their privacy but do not want to stop using Facebook. It can be difficult to quit using Facebook if it is the most reliable way to contact members of your family.
It should be noted that the Facebook Container Extension is for Firefox. It won’t work on other browsers. The Mozilla blog points out that if you click on any Facebook Share buttons or other browser tabs it will load within the Facebook container. When you use those buttons, information will be sent to Facebook about the website that you shared from.
For a year now we have known that Mozilla was developing its own mobile operating system. There has even been a preview version you could run with the Firefox web browser and developer handsets available, though these sold out very quickly.
Now the launch is at hand, as the first handset will be going on sale through Telefonica in Spain. “Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, today announced that the regional launches of Firefox OS smartphones will begin soon. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica will release the first Firefox OS devices, the ALCATEL ONE TOUCH Fire and the ZTE Open, soon. Individual partners will announce specifics about launches in each market soon” says Mozilla.
Mozilla boasts that Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies. The handsets will have the basic — calls, messaging, email, camera. There are also things you wish a smartphone offered. Firefox OS also includes built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with offline capabilities and smart walking, driving and public transit directions, much-loved features like the Firefox Web browser, a new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace and much more.
Other markets will be coming soon, as Mozilla boasts of more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, the organization hopes to fill a niche market with low-priced smartphones.
Mozilla may be suffering a bit lately thanks to the growth of the Chrome web browser, but they are still a popular choice for many computer users. They have also begun updating the browser at a much faster pace in order to keep pace with the competition. Those frequent updates don’t always result in cool new features, but the release today of the version 18 beta does bring some welcome new features.
Whenever a company updates their software I always tend to go first to the changelog so I can find out exactly what I am looking for. In this case I was surprised to find a couple of nice updates.
- CHANGED: Performance improvements around tab switching.
- DEVELOPER: CSS3 Flexbox implemented.
- DEVELOPER: Support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio.
- DEVELOPER: Support for @supports added.
- DEVELOPER: Improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates.
- HTML5: Support for W3C touch events impemented, taking the place of MozTouch events.
- FIXED: Disable insecure content loading on HTTPS pages (62178).
- FIXED: Improved responsiveness for users on proxies (769764).
If you are already using the beta version of Firefox then you should receive this update automatically. If not, then head over to the Mozilla Beta Channel to make the switch. The final version will be released in January.