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02.17.14

Mozilla Responds to Controversy Over Embedded Ads in Firefox

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Mozilla uses the yuppie-Nuremberg defense to justify selling away users’ privacy

Mozilla is a company with plenty of good people — good as in ethical. There are great new browsers coming out [1] (latest release at start of the month) and plans for even better [2] and accelerated browsers [3], not to mention powerful derivatives [4] that often come installed by default in GNU/Linux distributions. The recent decision to embed ads in Firefox was therefore a bit baffling and definitely surprising. Mozilla’s official account in Twitter responded to us, taking note of a formal statement from the management (Mitchell Baker [5]) — a statement later cited by some sites [6,7]. There is an online debate about Mozilla’s policy [8,9] after some revealing bias (against ads) even from sites that bombard visitors with ads [10] (sometimes Microsoft ads around GNU/Linux stories).

After reading the response from Mitchell Baker we remain unconvinced that lipstick can be put on the pig. It’s the yuppie-nuremberg defense. There is nothing wrong with making money, but the question is how. Moreover, one’s need for money does not justify an immoral act. Mozilla helps surveillance on Firefox users. It’s hardly even triggered by keystrokes and a trigger action (Chrome is no better in that regard). In the next post we are going to deal with Chrome, which is even worse than Mozilla when it comes to privacy. We recommend Rekonq or some Firefox derivatives like GNU IceCat and Debian’s IceWeasel.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Firefox 27: Faster, more secure and more social
  2. Mozilla Debuts New Australis Interface for Firefox 29 Aurora Browsers

    Mozilla is making a new interface available to users of its open-source Firefox Web browser as an alpha release. Firefox is developed in multiple branches—the mainline release, beta, Aurora (alpha) and Nightly branches. Until Friday, Feb. 7, the new Firefox Australis interface was only available in a Nightly branch for Firefox and has now moved into the alpha phase for what will become Firefox 29. The Firefox 29 Aurora release came in the same week as the mainline Firefox 27 browser debuted, providing users with fixes for 13 security advisories. The new Australis user interface in the Firefox 29 Aurora release has been making the rounds in the Firefox Nightly release channel since at least August 2013.

  3. Mozilla’s Use Of GPUs For 2D Acceleration

    Bas Schouten of Mozilla presented at FOSDEM earlier this month about their use of graphics processors for accelerating 2D content on the web. Unfortunately no slides from the presentation have yet to widely surface, but as of this week there’s now a YouTube video (embedded below) for those interested in Mozilla’s use of GPUs for 2D content and the pros and cons they have experienced thus far.

  4. SeaMonkey – More than a Web Browser

    I actually first discovered SeaMonkey many years ago when trying out the many versions of Puppy Linux, where SeaMonkey was sometimes included as the default “web browser”. Of course, if I had actually paid enough attention, I would have realised it was labeled as an “all-in-one internet application suite”. But nevertheless, it looked and behaved like Firefox so I assumed it was just an off-shoot of that software.

  5. Content, Ads, Caution

    In the early days of Firefox we were very careful not to offer content to our users. Firefox came out of a world in which both Netscape/AOL (the alma mater of many early Mozillians) and Microsoft had valued their content and revenue sources over the user experience. Those of us from Netscape/AOL had seen features, bookmarks, tabs, and other irritants added to the product to generate revenue. We’d seen Mozilla code subsequently “enhanced” with these features.

  6. Mozilla clarifies, defends Firefox ad position

    Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, defends Firefox’s new ad program. Firefox users remain wary.

  7. Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker Gets Crystal Clear on Ads Headed for Firefox

    Just this week, Mozilla appeared to buckle under the weight of the Internet Advertising Bureau’s wishes as the company delivered an announcement that it is going to put “Directory Tiles” in front of Firefox users, which sound a lot like ads. Now, Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker has weighed in officially on the topic of ads in Firefox, and her response is worth a read.

  8. Is Mozilla Selling Ads in Firefox?
  9. Why ads in Firefox are no big deal
  10. Mozilla To Begin Pushing Ads To The New Tabs Page
  11. Mozilla To Sell Ads In Firefox Web Browser

    Wait, what? Mozilla made itself the villian of the online ad business early last year by announcing that the latest version of Firefox would block third-party ad technologies by default, a move the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s top lobbyist called “a nuclear strike” on the industry.

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