Mozilla, the company behind the famous browser Firefox, recently announced a new strategic initiative called Polaris that aims to improve privacy for Mozilla users.
According to Mozilla’s research in October 2014, 74 percent of the 7000 adults surveyed said that they feel their personal information on the internet is less private in today’s world than it was a year ago. The same 74 percent also responded saying that they believe internet companies know too much about them as individuals.
Upon seeing this data, Mozilla responded with enthusiasm:
“Today, we are excited to announce a new strategic initiative at Mozilla called Polaris. Polaris is a privacy initiative built to pull together our own privacy efforts along with other privacy leaders in the industry.”
By partnering with the Tor Project, an internet browser that’s supposedly the pinnacle of anonymous internet usage, and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), Mozilla takes charge of mainstream privacy by letting the two non-profits advise the Polaris project.
“Polaris is designed to allow us to collaborate more effectively, more explicitly and more directly to bring more privacy features into our products. We want to accelerate pragmatic and user-focused advances in privacy technology for the Web, giving users more control, awareness and protection in their Web experiences. We want to advance the state of the art in privacy features, with a specific focus on bringing them to more mainstream audiences.”
Justin Brookman of the CDT said that the non-profit looks forward to working with Mozilla on the Polaris program, along with advising on issues like combating internet censorship and protecting online anonymity. These are two things Brookman believes are vital to promoting free expression online.
At the announcement, Mozilla said they’re moving forward with two experiments under Polaris focused on anti-censorship technology, anonymity and cross-site tracking protection. Mozilla engineers plan to evaluate the Tor Project’s changes to Firefox as the project builds on their platform, and determine if changes to the main codebase can work with Tor, rather than against it. Mozilla also plans to begin hosting their own Tor middle relays to enable Tor to expand their reach and responsiveness.
“The second experiment, which is our first in-product Polaris experiment, seeks to understand how we can offer a feature that protects those users that want to be free from invasive tracking without penalizing advertisers and content sites that respect a user’s preferences,” Mozilla said. “The experiment is promising, but it’s not a full-fledged feature yet. We’ll test and refine the user experience and platform behavior over the coming months and collect feedback from all sides before this is added to our general release versions.”
“We are honored to be working alongside Mozilla as well as the Center for Democracy & Technology to give Firefox users more options to protect their privacy,” the Tor Project said. “We believe that the Tor Browser is one of the best ways to protect privacy on the web and this partnership is a huge step in advancing people’s right to freedom of expression online.”
While some people may fear the outcomes of an anonymous browsing world, as seen by the Silk Road 1.0, 2.0 and now 3.0, anonymous browsing can do more good than bad.
In any field, there’s a potential for bad actors to be the voice of the community: just look at bitcoin. When Andreas Antonopoulos visited the Canadian Senate to teach them about digital currency, a major concern was the negative aspects on the legal side. Antonopoulos stressed that the good that digital currency and anonymous technology could do for the world heavily outweighs the bad that could be handled by stepping up legal proceedings. Internet anonymity works the same way.
The Tor Project is enabling the next step in the technological evolution of privacy-preservation and with Mozilla aiding to increase their potential, the world may be seeing the next level of anonymous technology sooner rather than later. What do you think? Comment below!
Images courtesy of Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, and Shutterstock.
Last modified (UTC): November 13, 2014 06:37