09.10.20

The Web is Becoming More Proprietary and Means for Accessing the Web Likewise (Now With DRM and With Limited — by Design — Compatibility)

Posted in DRM, Google, Microsoft, Standard at 3:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’ll get harder to stay a “Gnu”

Wildebeest and Zebras in the Maasai Mara
The first time I installed IceCat was about 15 years ago (it was still difficult to install); Mozilla has changed its spots since, so more Firefox alternatives may be needed

Summary: The Web is becoming a sordid jungle of Google-oriented proprietary browsers with DRM built in; this is a very sad situation and various people are increasingly sounding the alarm about it

THE LATE 90s were terrible for the World Wide Web. All the major Web browsers were proprietary (I used Netscape when it was still primitive, but I cannot recall the exact version number; prior to that I used pre-Netscape browsers, which were light and surprisingly simple although good enough to enter every Web site). Years later I used Konqueror, which I still use today, along with Falkon/QupZilla (the latter on older machines). Sometimes, especially when it comes to WordPress, I use Firefox too (I was a very early adopter of it, some time around spring of 2004 when the name “Firefox” was set in stone; I used “Mozilla” prior to that, along with Konqueror in S.u.S.E. 8.3). I’ve tried almost every browser over the years (as part of my job I had to test compatibility). Chromium is of no interest to me and the monoculture that develops around it reminds me of the MSIE monopoly days. Sure, it’s Google as opposed to Microsoft, but the threat is still real and oughtn’t be underestimated. Google plays a big role in insertion of DRM into Linux (yes, the kernel itself). Thanks for nothing, Google! You’re part of the problem and your bribes don’t sufficiently disguise that.

“Chromium is of no interest to me and the monoculture that develops around it reminds me of the MSIE monopoly days.”Mozilla Firefox is not inherently bad, but when shipped by Mozilla (not via Debian, which I use, as an ESR) it contains some bad things. Thankfully there are forks and branches of Firefox, including some that are (or were) associated with the GNU Project. I’ve used a few over the years. Some projects like WaterFox are in fact connected to surveillance giants and should thus be shunned (same surveillance company that covertly runs Startpage), so not everything Gecko-based is harmless. Mozilla really blew it with XUL because it betrayed a lot of developers and yesterday it revealed plans to charge extension developers (basically volunteers) to become visible.

Not a good direction. Is that like some new effort at finding a business model? Charging developers to participate or get more hits/users?

A lot of people don’t seem to understand that Chromium-derived browsers are “proprietary garbage”, as Derek explains in this new video. That’s true for Opera, Vivaldi, Edge, Chrome and many more.

“Mozilla helped save the (digital) world from MSIE monopoly, which deliberately held back development/advancement of the Web (Microsoft didn’t even bother with newer versions for many years). For that alone we should eternally be grateful to Mozilla.”However, there are pitfalls and gotchas. For instance, Firefox comes with what it calls “telemetry” (basically surveillance) and Google is the default search engine (because Google, a surveillance company, pays for it). Then there’s DRM which is right there ready to be enabled (EME) and there are some side issues such as Firefox hosting sub-projects or components under Microsoft (developed on Microsoft servers, using GitHub). There’s also that concern that Microsoft veterans are now in the board of Mozilla and Facebook veterans are in top management positions. Those are people who came from the surveillance industry, nothing less!

In our Daily Links we include as many links as possible about Mozilla because it’s still important to support this company (it also makes Thunderbird with PGP support after all) and right now all the major alternatives are proprietary and Google-centric.

Mozilla helped save the (digital) world from MSIE monopoly, which deliberately held back development/advancement of the Web (Microsoft didn’t even bother with newer versions for many years). For that alone we should eternally be grateful to Mozilla.

I will, for the time being, keep Firefox installed and use it to compose/publish posts (for 4 years prior to today I used QupZilla to do this). Mozilla relies on the goodwill of geeks and their eagerness to promote it to friends/family. My wife only uses Firefox because I advised her to avoid Google. If Mozilla messes up and throws away all this goodwill (to appease the wrong groups/interests), its market share will continue to erode. Putting Microsofters inside your board is a breach of trust, as was this move. Who are you trying to impress these days?

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