back to article Mozilla slots pr0n safe mode into Firefox 3.1

Mozilla is responding to challenges from browser rivals Apple, Microsoft and Google by reviving private browsing mode features in Firefox. The approach has been considered before but was sidelined in the run-up to the release of Firefox 3.0. However, the inclusion of similar privacy protecting features in Apple's Safari and, …


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  1. Aetyr

    If only...

    ...these private modes could also stop naughty sites leaving viruses and malware on your PC. I can has "sandbox" mode plz?

  2. Gareth
    Thumb Up

    Guilty by absence

    Finally something that doesn't scream guilty like the clearing history and / or private data. A sure sign I've been upto no good!

  3. Colin Guthrie
    Paris Hilton

    Firefox already has this...

    ... it's called "profile support".

    I use it all the time to test a clean FF without any extensions/customisations on websites I develop, but it would be trivial to create a profile to use for one handed surfing which automatically cleans the private data at the end of a session.

    Nothing new here. Move along please.

    Paris because.... well duh!!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    On Google

    The funny thing for this article is on google tech news it shows up with out the strikeout for Pr0n.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    This should be...

    A major feature in every browser and it needs a big button that shows that safe mode is on or off. I am not even talking about porn here. If I ever get fired, an HR droid will call me to come to his/her office. 2 seconds after I leave my desk an IT person (sent by the HR gods) will show up to pick up my laptop so I won't harm the company once I get the bad news and become a bit emotionally unstable. What warranties do I have that all info will be erased from the HD then? I will be out of the company and "my" laptop is somewhere in there. With the cookies and stored passwords.

    No really... I even think a browser should ask for a login and a password and should encrypt its temp files using that data. Same goes for your mail client software @ work.

    Paris because she does not care about privacy.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    There is

    You can boot XP- with some minor tweaks- from a read-only SD card. Even MCE. I believe I read somewhere that it's impossible, or perhaps that was just installing direct to an SD card but either way it's actually surprisingly simple...

    Obviously other OSses will work, but I can only confirm 2000 and XP.

    This would then mean that when you shut down the PC you lose all of the locally held temporary files and boot up again fresh as a daisy. I say fresh as a daisy- I mean "painfully slow" but that's due to using a budget SD card on a "test" PC with bugger all RAM and no HDD space to page to... I'm testing it later on today with a faster card in a half-decent system.

    Doesn't stop all exploits, but should prevent anyone from really getting a good foothold on your system with trojans and the like.


    Also, Privacy mode in Firefox sounds great, until you look at your privacy settings and find you're already clearing all that stuff automatically whenever Firefox closes...

  7. Daryl

    Aetyr - there is an answer!

    There's a firefox addon called NoScript which will stop any website from running any scripts, ads and viruses etc without your permision, definitely worth a look - does a brilliant job.

  8. Agent420

    Looking for a sandbox?

    Try Sandboxie.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    and it needs a big button that shows that safe mode is on or off.

    It should also announce periodically through the speakers


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Let’s hope they pay attention to Mike Perry, so that this work will make future versions of Torbutton significantly simpler and more effective.

  11. RW

    @ Colin Guthrie

    Firefox profile support is largely redundant on Linux if each person using the machine has his/her own userid.

    The profiles are stored in users' home directories, hence to some extent inaccessible to others.

  12. TonyZ


    It's the IT in me that has to ask...

    What's "porn" mode gonna do for you when the browser abends and the "cleanup" routine never executes?

    I could go on and on, but the truth is browsing "untrusted content" of any form is and will always be unsafe in nature and the only way to be "safe" is to boot from a "live CD" or Thumbdrive which only writes to RAM or just stay off the damn net.

    I like the bit about how this "feature" *was* slated for a previous release. It WAS because it's shit...

    But I guess now that all the idiots "think" it's a good idea and ...all the other browsers are doing it...

  13. Steve Skipper
    Gates Halo


    They shouldn't bother putting in "safe mode", just so they can say IE8 is the browser of choice for wankers.

  14. J

    other technologies thought to be more important at the time

    Wot!? Is there anything more important that safely and privately surfing pr0n!? What is this world coming to... (pun intended?)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For all journos looking for a practical example of pornomode usage

    you may wish to add "online banking" to that slim list. Just a thought.

  16. Pierre
    Dead Vulture

    "the technology"? Tell me you're kidding

    Three time in the article this "private" thing is called a (impliedly, new) "technology". When it's just not recording passwords and deleting some cookies and history items. Nothing that can't be done by hand anyway. It's just a macro-command that is now built in. Might be useful, but it's light-years away from being a new technology! Actually, it's technically shutting down some relatively old tech (autocompletion, history and password storing), so it's more like a leap back to Neanderthal-like technology. Lynx and Mosaic have had this "technology" built-in since the early nineties.

  17. Charles Silver badge

    Re: ABEnd?

    Firefox detects AbEnds when you restart the application. If you AbEnd, just start it again, and it should detect it and perform a cleanup. Then just close it again and you're in the clear. someone said, perhaps another move that could be made is a command-line option to *default* to privacy mode, a handy feature for public computer terminals.

  18. Graham Marsden

    Firefox Portable...

    ... has been doing this for ages anyway

    Wanders off humming "The Internet is for Pr0n"

  19. phormwatch

    Possible bad side-effect

    The possible bad side effect of having a pr0n mode is to lull users into a false sense of security that everything they are doing online is private; pr0n mode will do nothing against DPI.

    Techies tend to jump towards technical solutions to political problems. Sometimes that works - at least for a period of time. Sometimes, it just isn't enough. There needs to be more robust privacy legislation in the UK. We really need to have a discussion about acceptable business practices with respect to privacy and data protection.

    Check out BT's latest nastiness:

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Do we need a "porn" mode?

    I've always had Firefox set to keep my history for 0 days, keep cookies until the end of the session only, not save passwords or auto-remember form data, and to purge all private data when closed.

    I started doing this to escape the tracking cookies for all the advertisers and I just don't trust a cache of all my passwords on a browser to be safe.

    So by default I have a "porn" mode already, with the added perk that at least unlike the IE8 mode my browsing history really isn't there as opposed to being inaccessible. The Firefox mode sounds mostly like what I'm doing already.

    So what's next? Any time I don't have a visible browsing history will the fingers start pointing from the moral police?

  21. Colin Guthrie
    Thumb Up


    Your argument about Linux is irrelevant as the same is true on Win XP and OSX too. Doesn't mean you (meaning a single user) do not want multiple profiles.

    I use Linux too, and you just need to run the profile manager to create and/or use a different profile for whatever, ahem, purpose you like.

    It's a very useful feature that, as a developer, I find very useful. In my day to day development profile, I have firebug and a heap of other extensions, but in my testing profile, it's clean as a whistle.

    Combine with MOZ_NO_REMOTE=1 env var and you can run two instances at the same time.


  22. Mike

    As if there was another reason

    For network administrators to ban it from their networks. Let's see: it doesn't respect network policy settings, and NOW it has a porn mode that means it won't even record the sites people go to so you can't catch employees except with firewall logs (which don't show which account actually accessed it in most cases), and there's no real way for network administrators to lock this feature out. Yep, I'd ban it.

  23. Tim Bates
    Thumb Up

    This will be fun...

    I wonder how many students at the high school I work for will think this mode will let them bypass filters or browse without being checked up on.... My money is on a lot.

    I'll be rolling out FF3.1 as soon as FrontMotion release a policy hacked version.

  24. Iain

    Seems a little unnecessary

    As mentioned once or twice above, surely setting FF/Op/whatever to clear private data at end of each session is just as effective (so long as it does do what it says, always useful to use CCleaner just to mop up any loose ends). Also, just don't surf porn at work you filthy gits! Surely you can wait until you get home? Seriously guys.

  25. Colin Millar

    @ "the technology"? Tell me you're kidding

    Yeah - what Pierre said

    This is all options available anyway so its just a new button to change a profile of preferences

    Of course being Firefox if it aint an AddOn then it aint anything. How a browser which encourages users to install a massive variety of various quality add-ons and plug-ins gets to be so popular amongst the anti-MS crowd is laughable.

  26. Mike

    Re: Colin Millar

    Thank you. I share your opinion completely. Firefox is feature-poor and clunky. It starts slower than IE and most other browsers, and the user interface can best be described as "poor". The vaunted tabbed browsing relies on a tiny button buried among similar-looking buttons to open a new tab. Or a keyboard shortcut (CTRL+T) that's inconvenient and uncomfortable to hit. And once you start adding features to it with addons, guess what? It slows down everything because a major portion of each addon must be loaded at all times and webpages are processed through the addons. And ANY one of these addons may compromise the security of your computer. Wow, that's a LOT better than IE where you only require Flash, Java, and Silverlight and you have more features than Firefox ever had.

  27. Stephen

    Re: As if there was another reason..

    Yep managing your own network and enforcing your Internet policies is now going to be a nightmare.

    Unless Firefox finally comes with the capability to lock it down in GPO I will have no choice but to remove it from our network. Given we still have Windows 2000 machines in some places still I wouldn't exactly fall head over heels with those people using IE6 again. (The Horror, the horror).

    At this rate it would be safer to ban the Internet at work and bring us back to the old days.

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