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Nov 17

“Mozilla is no longer fighting for market share of its browser: it is fighting for the future of the web,” writes the Guardian, citing Mozilla Project co-founder Mitchell Baker:

Baker’s pitch is that only Mozilla is motivated, first and foremost, to make using the web a pleasurable experience. Google’s main priority is to funnel user data into the enormous advertising engine that accounts for most of its revenue. Apple’s motivation is to ensure that customers continue to buy a new iPhone every couple of years and don’t switch to Android….”

Firefox now runs sites such as Facebook in “containers”, effectively hiving the social network off into its own little sandboxed world, where it can’t see what’s happening on other sites. Baker says: “It reduces Facebook’s ability to follow you around the web and track you when you’re not on Facebook and just living your life….” Mozilla has launched Monitor, a data-breach reporting service; Lockwise, a password manager; and Send, a privacy-focused alternative to services such as WeSendit. It’s also beta-testing a VPN (virtual private network) service, which it hopes to market to privacy-conscious users…

Apple’s iOS (mobile operating system) is an acknowledged disaster for Mozilla. Safari is the default and, while users can install other browsers, they come doubly hindered: they can never be set as the default, meaning any link clicked in other applications will open in Safari; and they must use Safari’s “rendering engine”, a technical limitation that means that even the browsers that Firefox does have on the platform are technically just fancy wrappers for Apple’s own browser, rather than full versions of the service that Mozilla has built over the decades… “Even if you do download a replacement, iOS drops you back into the default. I don’t know why that’s acceptable. Every link you open on a phone is the choice of the phone maker, even if you, as a user, want something else.”

Summarizing Baker’s concerns, the Guardian writes that “It is perfectly possible to build a browser that prevents advertising companies from aggregating user data. But it is unlikely that any browser made by an advertising company would offer such a feature…”

And an activist for the Small Technology Foundation tells them that Google “wants the web to go through Google. It already mostly does: with eyes on 70% to 80% of the web.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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