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Is Firefox Going away and Taking Privacy Options with It?

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Firefox was once one of the leading “alternative” browsers on the internet. After the death of Netscape Firefox came along and offered people an alternative to the building Windows Internet Explorer and even to Safari on macOS. This trend continued into the mobile arena, at least until Google launched the Chrome Browser. Although Chrome had a bit of a rocky start (with clear indications of data collection), it has grown in popularity and gobble up about 64% of the browsing on the internet.

The rapid adoption of Google’s Chrome is a bit interesting to us considering how much is known about Google’s data collection efforts. They are up there with Facebook when it comes to amassing data about their user’s browsing habits for use in analytics and targeted ads. By comparison Mozilla’s Firefox seemed to be a breath of fresh air in terms of privacy. There were great option present in the browser to control that data passed to sites visited as well as a large store of add-ons to enhance private browsing.

Yet Firefox seems like they are in a bit of a bind lately. In 2020 there were two rounds of layoffs at Mozilla and their revenue has not been where is should be. To make matters worse their search deal with Google will expire soon and that will take even more revenue away from them (if Google does not renew) at a time when they cannot afford it. Many are seeing this as the beginning of the end for Mozilla and Firefox.

The question is, will this also be the end of the privacy focus from Web Browsers? Firefox has been one of the leading privacy centric browsers for a long time. Running it in the right configuration (and with the right add-ons) gives you some excellent settings for protecting your browsing and personal information. While other groups have started to add in their own Privacy settings most of them are not in the same realm as what Firefox had to offer. One recent notable exception could be the security and privacy changes that have been added to Microsoft’s Edge (which has a terrible usage percentage).

Mozilla is not in the best financial condition, and they have relied too heavily on revenue for their Google search deal. However, they are looking to change this and partner with other people outside for Google. There was a recent announcement that Mozilla will partner with Meta around the Metaverse. Now this might be a good financial deal for Mozilla, but given Meta(Facebook)’s history of privacy and personal data abuses, it might hurt them with privacy advocates. This in turn could end up reducing their already dwindling market share.

The next couple of years will be interesting to watch. If Mozilla’s Firefox goes away there could be a further erosion of online privacy as one of the main options would be gone. This is not a good thing in the long run as it can make it easier for groups like Google to expand their gathering efforts.

Sean Kalinich

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