back to article Want to support Firefox? Great, you'll have no problem with personalised, sponsored search suggestions then

Mozilla is trialling personalised advertising in its Firefox Suggest feature, along with sponsored search results, with users told that it "helps fund Firefox development." Firefox Suggest was first introduced last month in Firefox 92, billed as "a new discovery feature that is built directly into the browser." The feature …

  1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

    Tabs should never, ever, unload as they may contain information that can't just be 'reloaded'. If it's that low on memory, refuse to load a new tab until free memory rises again. Just because apps on Android do it doesn't make it right, it's highly irritating on there too.

    Couple that with the behaviour I saw on a Raspberry Pi recently where Firefox updated in the background and then refused to create new tabs until the browser was restarted. What if you're working on something important? What if there's a download that shouldn't be interrupted. Bone headed behaviour that shouldn't survive five minutes thinking about it.

    I'd be happy to pay for a browser that was actually any good (Opera, you had your chance, it was awful), rather than the current situation of finding a least worst choice.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      Please let me know what can't be serialised to disk and then reloaded...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        It's fine if they actually do serialise to disk all half-edited form fields, JavaScript state, DOM state, etc... but it's not so good if they just forget the page and you have to reload everything with all your edits forgotten, which is what tends to happen on Android when it runs out of memory.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

          It's not "fine" at all. Caching all that rubbish is a privacy hosepipe just waiting to spray its goodies over whoever figures out how to access it. Since the user doesn't know it's there, it'll never occur to them to clean it up.

    2. tony72

      Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      I ditched Firefox a while back, so I've got no skin in the game anymore, but you do honestly wonder what the discussion is like at Mozilla. Do they actually have a plan to regain some of their lost market share? Do they think this kind of thing fits into said plan somehow? Anyone know where their roadmap is now? wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Roadmap/Updates says it's "No longer maintained", hasn't been updated in a year.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        "Anyone know where their roadmap is now?"

        Lost.

        I'm using FF-92 on a new install, and out-of-the-box it's just awful. Had to uncheck a dozen boxes to disable the slurp (probably I didn't succeed 100%), address bar is a search bar even if you tell it not to do that, auto-complete is http instead of https, bookmarks sidebar is okay but bookmarks menu shows only "recent bookmarks", on and on.

        For now it's customisable, but I predict that will change when their current measures don't bring in enough lucre.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

          For many years already, Firefox has been redirecting http addresses to https equivalents if they exist. Using http for auto complete makes sense from a backwards compatibility point of view, and makes no difference to the site that eventually gets loaded.

          1. brotherelf
            Boffin

            Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

            No, Firefox does no such thing. It's the web server sending HSTS headers (which mean "once you successfully https, always upgrade http to https for the next X seconds), an upgrade-insecure-requests CSP, redirects to https on http, or optimally, all three.

            (Making https the default protocol if you leave it off in the URL bar is being debated and would indeed be easy with almost no compatibility concerns, but that is something that's happening vaguely now, not "for many years".)

        2. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge
          Flame

          Firefox privacy/lack-of-privacy

          You can't preserve your privacy by just clicking some boxes in Firefox. Some of the boxes in Preferences do not control whether information is collected and sent on, or not. Instead, some of those boxes merely control whether Firefox SHOWS you the information or not.

          To do a thorough job, you have to go into "about:config" and muck with the F.F. equivalent to the Windows Registry.

      2. deceptionatd

        Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        It has moved. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Release_Management/Calendar

        1. tony72

          Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

          Interestingly, as of today, that returns "There is currently no text in this page." Wayback machine tells me it did have content as recently as 2nd November, much less when you posted the link. Who knows whether to read anything into that.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      "Just because apps on Android do it doesn't make it right, it's highly irritating on there too."

      Upvote. Because of recent EU rules on banking, quite often when I buy something from a website I'm asked the switch to the bank app to authorise the purchase. If I do that, I find that upon switching back, the OS unloaded the browser and thus threw away all the order information/basket contents. So I've just authorised a purchase that got "forgotten".

      What I have to do is either use my tablet and phone, or wait for the thing to time out and offer to send me a text instead (then wait more until it arrives). It's a pain in the arse, and, I suspect, just a lot of security theatre for no actual benefit (it's the same bank that replaced my longish foreign word password with a five digit PIN because this is "my trusted device" <facepalm emoji>).

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        " longish foreign word password"

        Off topic.... but...given that dictionaries are surely available in any language, having a password in a foreign (by which I guess you mean non-english) language is no more secure than an english language word of similair length. The safety of a password comes from the not being brute-forceable from both length and dictionary perspective. If it's in a dictionary than the "longish" part loses its power

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

          Not a word you'll find in a dictionary - this twat misspelled it, then decided that was better exactly because it won't match any known word.

          Anyway, if you're trying to brute force the password of a British bloke in a French bank, are you really going to cycle through all of the word lists of all of the languages? Oh, things like Russian would be fun - at work we've had an Oxana, an Oksana, an Oxhana, and an Ocksanna (who may or may not have had an 'h', I don't remember). All the same in Russian, transliterated multiple ways to Latin alphabet. Apply that to the rest of the language (and others...Japanese - Herburn or Wapuro?) and it starts to get a bit infeasible, don't you think?

          1. Richocet

            Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

            Short answer: Yes.

            Dictionaries in most languages and algorithms to generate misspellings and letter substitution versions of the words.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

          How about the unwritten language of Ayapaneco, a language spoken only in the small Mexican village of Ayapa. Sort of like those Native American radio operators in WWII. Today, they could make a living selling passwords.

        3. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

          Password strength

          See: xkcd.com/936/

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @BinkyTheMagicPaperclip - Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      Er, they are losing market share so they have nothing left to lose.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Well one thing is for sure : sponsored search suggestions is not going to help.

        Anything "sponsored" is 99.999% likely to be something I have absolutely zero interest in.

        Besides, I use an ad-blocker and NoScript. They stuff it where the sun don't shine.

        1. Jedit Silver badge
          Pint

          "Anything "sponsored" is 99.999% likely to be something I have absolutely zero interest in."

          This is not quite true. I may indeed be interested in buying something "sponsored". It's just that after seeing your "sponsored" advert, I have absolutely zero interest in buying it from *you*. This applies even if I had previously intended to buy it from you.

          This post is sponsored by beer, but please decide for yourself if you want to buy it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC - It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        Actually, they can lose everything that they have left, which is more than just market share. If it was a private firm operating of a closed source code base I wouldn't have much to say about management trying to leap face first at the curb and bite the concrete.

        Firefox is a community project, and it seems that both current and previous management have been working harder to alienate the user base instead of recruiting contributors and building that community. They need to go back to the drawing board and work with the community to make Firefox a project that is on a real direction and trajectory again.

        Right now each update amounts to Firefox becoming a little more like chrome, but with Mozilla run spyw-- er TELEMETRY, ads, and "premium services" wired in, all while limiting or removing the parts that can be customized, which where the last parts that were useful that weren't already in chrome.

        They could have monetized the plugin market, and blocked publishing of all the toxic browser hijacker plugins and BS toolbars. Instead they crippled the plugin framework so the high quality third party plugins (that were the only reason left to put up with what was left of the browser) either had to re-architect with less functionality or were shut out entirely.

      3. rcxb1 Bronze badge

        Re: @BinkyTheMagicPaperclip - It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        <blockquote>they are losing market share so they have nothing left to lose</blockquote>

        Their market share is above 0%, so they have a great deal left to lose.

    5. msknight

      Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      I don't mind paying for something I'm using. Or pay a subscription for a premium feature which is actually useful... as opposed to companies turn to advertising and that sort of garbage which actually turns me off the product and ends up with me fighting the crap they're pushing in my face.

      Unloading pages, though... yes... depending on how it's done it can be a nightmare for the user.

      I do wonder what platform Firefox are on. With all that's happened in this sphere already, I thought they'd have had more sense than to go this way.

    6. jvf

      me too

      Count me in. I'd pay good money for a good browser.

      1. jtaylor Bronze badge

        Re: me too

        "I'd pay good money for a good browser."

        As would I. I paid for Opera back in the day. It might not be a viable business model, though.

      2. Woodnag

        Re: me too

        I would pay if I wasn't forced to accept feature updates, just security fixes.

      3. quxinot

        Re: me too

        I'd pay for a good browser too.

        Which Firefox used to be.... and really isn't, anymore.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      Do you use multiple profiles? I was having this background update issue and it was because the profiles act independently; the "other" profile was happily updating Firefox as a whole on the system level, so when my "main" profile came to try and access the program files it noticed that they'd updated and refuses to use them before a restart. Why it can't just check for other instances and only update if it's the only instance is beyond me... any beyond Firefox developers, apparently.

      And to make matters worse, the "fix" is to disable automatic updates on all profiles... ok... but if you do this, there is a popup that appears *multiple times a day*, *over the top-right corner of your current webpage* telling you there is an update. This is not possible to turn off without about:config-ing and *turning updates off entirely*. As in you can't update at all, even manually, through the settings ui. It's baffling.

      Oh yeah, and there's been this bug on macOS for the past... few years? That's now in the "fixed but keeps coming back" stage, where the macOS menu bar will sometimes get stuck over the top of Firefox and not hide itself when in full screen mode.

      I used to love Firefox. I even like the new UI with the chunky tabs, to be honest. But almost everything they've done in the past few years has made me like it less, not more.

      Maybe I'm just being negative and unreasonable by now, but I've alway had a weird feeling from Mozilla. I remember 10 years ago with Firefox 3 I think it was, there were terrible memory leaks on OS X. I went to the Mozilla issues tracker and saw multiple threads of people complaining of the same issue, and in every one Mozilla engineers were point blank refusing to even acknowledge there was an issue. What extensions do you have? None. Is this a fresh install? Yes? Works on my machine, closed. Maybe not entirely relevant and a bit ranty this last bit, but... it really did sour my view of Mozilla somehow. I realise most software houses have this kind of attitude though, I guess...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        I don't use multiple profiles, but I do have 'just tell me when there's an update' option set and don't find the 'new version' pop-up intrusive... I normally go for the download and curse when I have to wait for it to update when I next launch FF

    8. veti Silver badge

      Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

      If you're "working on something important" or downloading something, that doesn't require new tabs, does it?

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: It's as if they're designing it to lose market share

        If I'm downloading a 1.4G image. I'm certainly not going to sit there and do nothing while it downloads. I'm going to open a new tab and do something else until the download button pulses (or task bar icon finished turning green (WTF isn't there a way to disable this))

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it the search bar or the address bar?

    The picture shows that this will run in the address bar, not the search bar. Will there be the usual slew of entries in about:config that all have to be set in the perfect configuration to stop user-data being sent to Mozilla/advertisers/god-knows-where? Please Mozilla, just... don't.

    (Was it Mozilla that tried to rename it to the Awesomebar? Just leave it for addresses, please. Keep the search stuff separate.)

    1. demon driver

      Re: Is it the search bar or the address bar?

      The consent dialog shows a search bar, the data flow diagram shows an address bar – but in Firefox, both address input and search are combined within the address bar as a single input field, which might explain the diagram... (And I think you're right with the 'Awesomebar'. Hideous.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it the search bar or the address bar?

      Shh, don't remind them that there is still an option for a separate search box or they will delete it from the code base.

  3. elregidente

    Moz jumped the shark years ago

    Many years ago, I had cause to install FF on Windows from the standard installer.

    When the browser first started, it presented a page which in every way had been made to trick the user into thinking they now *had* to make an account with Mozilla to proceed.

    I was, and remain, disgusted.

    I think Moz jumped the shark years ago.

    The saving grace is that FF is so customizable you can turn off all the evil stuff, and of course, that there are not any obvious alternatives. You can't use Chrome, or anything from MS, or anything from Apple. Chromium, maybe, is an option, but I've been wary. I don't know exactly what it does or not contain.

    As it is anyway, I use Tor, which acts to remove a lot of the evil stuff in the first place.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Ah yes, Tor. The NSA-created refuge for criminals, black marketers and intelligence agencies all over the world.

      Brilliant idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Annnd, they got you

        not only have you bought the lie that only criminals think they deserve privacy, but that you should spread that lie to other people. Congratulations for helping re-enforce the stranglehold that created monstrosities like Facebook.

        We can all have a little privacy, not just the oppressed and exceptionally vulnerable. Privacy isn't hurting you. And the criminals that slipped through the cracks can and did long before Tor came around. Lot's of them still get busted. But if a dissident can get inn touch with the outside press without getting shot or arrested, or a victim of domestic abuse can hide when they reach out for help, that's a good thing.

        Neither Tor nor privacy is inherently evil, and maybe consider mentioning that instead the next time it comes up in conversation.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Annnd, they got you

          It's also quite useful for assessing how you're currently being Bubbled by Google et al. Run a google search on both your own-id browser and on blank-user Tor. Compare the search results. Repeat for various dimensions of interest.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Annnd, they got you

            you can't compare results of google sarch via tor, because google purposefully makes it near-impossible to use their search on tor.

            ...

            well, my, it just worked! First time in a long time, instead of the usual mumble-mumble you appear to be a bot shit, etc.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: Annnd, they got you

              If you're getting "errors" like that from Google or whomever, just drop&reconnect your underlying Tor circuit to get a new exit point. Or wait for the autotimer to switch you automatically -- 10-15mins IIRC. Chances are, this'll give you an exit point less amenable to nannyism -- if not, rinse& repeat until success.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Annnd, they got you

          None of which has anything to do with GP's point, which is that the NSA sponsored Tor for their reasons, not yours. If you think it gives you privacy... Well, carry on I guess. If you're planning anything that the NSA would care about, frankly I'd rather they did know.

          1. Richocet

            Re: Annnd, they got you

            Such as voting for a Democrat?

            5 years ago I would have viewed my sentence as a joke or a troll, but not now.

  4. Irongut

    Why do devs insist on trying this?

    > the location is derived from the IP address of the client

    Which means it will be wrong 100% of the time. Every site that attempts to determine my location from my IP gets it wrong... about 300 miles away wrong and in the wrong country. They can't even decide which of my ISP's offices my IP belongs to, giving different locations at different times for the same IP.

    1. Andy Non

      Re: Why do devs insist on trying this?

      I get that all the time too. Whenever I log into Amazon I get a warning text message querying that I've just logged in from London, Newcastle, Cornwall etc and I'm still in the same room on the same computer in Nottingham.

      Google News is funny like that too, If I'm logged in to Google, it shows a section of news from my "Local Area" which is anywhere in the country, often from small towns I've never even heard of.

    2. Steve Graham

      Re: Why do devs insist on trying this?

      Call me a nerd, but every so often I load Google Maps just to see where it thinks I am this time. It's usually within about 100km.

      I actually have given permission for the browser to blab my location, but a plugin, Location Guard, constantly feeds it lies. Google just uses IP address until you click on their bullseye icon.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why do devs insist on trying this?

      I've seen "Hot singles in Nantwich are waiting to meet you" based on IP address location.

      Well...thanks? But that really isn't convenient.

  5. demon driver

    Surreptitious Advertising

    It's even worse than what the article describes. As BleepingComputer reports, "Firefox doesn't tag the ads displayed via Firefox Suggest. There is no clear way to identify what a sponsored suggestion and what a regular unsponsored suggestion should look like. The only way Firefox users will know whether a sponsored suggestion is an ad would be by looking at the URL, but, in many cases, the URL is not clearly visible." If they plan to roll this out outside of the US, such practices might even turn out to be illegal in some jurisdictions.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Surreptitious Advertising

      !!

      That's ... f%&#ng disgraceful.

  6. Mike 137 Silver badge

    the blocking of downloads over unencrypted connections

    Why? And whose decision should it be anyway? Nanny doesn't always know what I want.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: the blocking of downloads over unencrypted connections

      It's still your decision. It just (in some cases, quite rightly) advises against it. I already have automatic redirection to HTTPS switched on (with a warning if I want to bypass this for local embedded devices/dinosaur websites). I've said it before: encryption should be the norm, and there should be a good reason to NOT use it.

      Don't go shouting about not needing it unless you're inputting private information – EVERYTHING you look at on the web is private information. Do you really want me to be able to collect a list of which pages on which specific websites you've visited, including a copy of all their content? I could find out a lot about you with that.

      We've had free certs for over six years, and any decent hosting provider will make using them seamless (if yours doesn't, then switch). Anyone who cares about privacy should insist on encryption for every website. Yet for some reason, I'm still going to get downvotes for this post.

      1. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: the blocking of downloads over unencrypted connections

        Do you really want me to be able to collect a list of which pages on which specific websites you've visited, including a copy of all their content? I could find out a lot about you with that.

        I generally agree. Encrypt all the things. If we were developing a new system today it would encrypt by design. There's just one exception. Software Mirrors.

        Encrypting those makes opportunistic/transparent caching impossible. Sure, you can do it with a trusted proxy on a managed network where clients have certificates installed, but it nukes caching by ISPs or for unmanaged devices. It would kill LANCache and similar software.

        There is no reason whatsoever why software (especially enormous game downloads) needs to be encrypted when you can compare signatures to verify integrity. It's why all the major marketplaces encrypt everything except the software downloads. They know networks need to cache them.

        1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

          Re: the blocking of downloads over unencrypted connections

          I disagree – software downloads should absolutely be encrypted. I don't want you or anybody else knowing I'm downloading Leather Goddesses of Phobos. If this breaks your caching system, then you need to find a way to fix it.

          1. the small snake Bronze badge
            Big Brother

            Re: the blocking of downloads over unencrypted connections

            If is a way of fixing it then is a way of man-in-the-middling the link. So there better had not be.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: the blocking of downloads over unencrypted connections

          "There is no reason whatsoever why software (especially enormous game downloads) needs to be encrypted when you can compare signatures to verify integrity."

          Two words: Chinese Cannon. AND they can swap the hashes, too. I believe that actually happened once.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You pay £60 a month to BT

    Well, you're paying up to £720 a year to BT to get a fast internet connection, and they're paying nothing towards any of the websites they resell or the software used to view those websites. They keep it all for themselves.

    All of that they get free. You're not paying for the Internet, you're paying landlord-freeloader BT a rent on other people's property. None of those website they sell access to, they fund, none of that data is there's to sell.

    Charge ISPs like BT a 10% tax on their domestic internet connections, give the end users credit tokens for that 10%, tokens they can spend on the internet. Make it only work for countries that support the same system. "Here's magic money you can only spent for internet services in countries that support the tax, so now spend it."

    If Mozilla want the fee, they have to move operations to the UK, or convince USA to join the fee scheme. I don't think the latter will be difficult, given ATnT has been revealed as a major funder of One America Network, on condition they attack the Dems and the Net Neutrality law and be nice to ATnT. They should be happy to make ATnT pay their way, after they undermined American democracy.

    All the pot of money available will naturally be spent on the limited available initial recipients, which will encourage rapid adoption.

    Then you have a economy based on people paying you. NOT secretly selling their data everywhere. NOT ramming insane ads into people's faces. NOT tricking app buyers into paying more by deception. A healthy system of people paying for the goods and services they're using. Potentially a heck of a lot of money too. These ISPs and Cable companies make tens of billions in profits each year off the backs of others.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: You pay £60 a month to BT

      No I'm not. I live in France. I pay €45/month to Orange.

      I understand you have a pet peeve, but you need to understand that Firefox in not used only in the UK.

      The Internet is wider than BT.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: You pay £60 a month to BT

        The Internet is wider than BT.

        Thank the deity of your choice.

        1. Richocet

          Re: You pay £60 a month to BT

          Tim Berners-Lee in my case.

    2. Alpine_Hermit
      WTF?

      Re: You pay £60 a month to BT

      In your case BT provide the pipe. It's no different to your other service providers.

      And I'm baffled at your rationale. By the same token, do you expect EDF to give you 10% back of what you pay them, so that you can purchase devices which plug into the power socket???!!!

      But I'm a hermit, so what I do I know about the modern world which becomes ever more baffling by the day...

      1. Richocet

        Re: You pay £60 a month to BT

        Not a great analogy, because EDF pass a significant amount of the money that you pay them on to the power generators or 'content providers' if you will.

  8. ThatOne Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Caught between a rock and a hard place

    I understand their plight, they need money, like everyone they eat several times a day and some have even families, and they know sugar daddy Google only keeps them around to ward against monopoly accusations, he has no other use for them and definitely doesn't want them to stand in the way of Chrome's global domination.

    They know they need to break free and become independent (well, as much as possible), and how do they go about it? By taking a blunderbuss and carefully aiming at their foot... Seriously guys, if there is a big no-no nowadays, it's creepy spying. Besides, what happened to that point 4 of the Mozilla Manifesto?...

    I'm aware of Hanlon's razor, but I only can explain this by either suggesting blind, greedy (used cars sales grade) marketing now controls the Mozilla Foundation, or that it's yet another attempt of sugar daddy Google to prevent losing Chrome users to Firefox, by making it look even creepier than Chrome. After neutering ad blockers in Chrome, they needed to do something to prevent users switching to Firefox I guess.

    Disclaimer, I've been using Firefox for 20 years now, I was using Netscape before that. I'm a staunch supporter of Mozilla, but they make it increasingly difficult to defend them. Bad decisions and a total lack of understanding for their user base do hurt them way more than the general push to use Chrome or one of its clones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Caught between a rock and a hard place

      How would you donate for their privacy aim? You'd have to hand them money and with it your id.

      Or they can ram adverts down you, but then thats a slippery slope, slowly Google will drag them down.

      Requiring Google Play Store to install Firefox mobile looks like Google's work to me, Firefox APK use to be simply downloadable.

      So you need some simple way to pay Mozilla for their work, that rewards their privacy aims, while not violating your privacy in the process.

      Do a 10% ISP tax, give customer tokens, anonymous customer pays Mozilla using the tokens.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Caught between a rock and a hard place

        The Firefox APK is in three other app stores and is still downloadable.

        I still think the best way forward for Mozilla would be allowing the user to tip websites to pay for content or remove ads and receive a small commission.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Caught between a rock and a hard place

        > You'd have to hand them money and with it your id

        I'm not on the run, I have no problem handing my ID to Mozilla. Lots of people know who I am, but they are the ones I chose to identify myself to.

        What I do have problems with is some shady fly-by-night marketing (tautology!) company spying on my computer.

        .

        > So you need some simple way to pay Mozilla for their work

        Yes, and that's the whole problem. Netscape has proven that a to-pay browser has no chance against a free and ubiquitous one. Donations are not a solution either, Mozilla has them already.

        No, I don't have the solution either, but we need one, else we're all lifers in ad-infested Googleland, sliced and diced and sold wholesale.

      3. Alpine_Hermit

        Re: Caught between a rock and a hard place

        Do a 10% ISP tax, give customer tokens, anonymous customer pays Mozilla using the tokens.

        That's definitely blue sky, idealistic thinking, and there's zero chance of ANY bunch of politicians having such a vision and implementing it. But well done for trying at least.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Caught between a rock and a hard place

          (did you mean for your first paragraph there to be more clearly a quote from the AC above?)

      4. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

        Re: Caught between a rock and a hard place

        You could send a money order (no ID required to purchase where I live, YMMV).

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    Can we as a community not think of a way to drop Mozilla some pennies so they stop trying on stupid shite like this?

    How about in their binary builds reduce the feature set unless you buy a "pro" version. So disable:

    - WebGL

    - Snippets

    - Firefox Account

    - Firefox Sync

    - etc...

    ... although I am sure many of us will actually prefer this version of the build. haha.

    OK, lets try the other way, perhaps Mozilla can charge money for a stripped down build? Perhaps even a patched source tree that they charge access to with the nonsense stripped out? This could actually be something I would personally be interested in. It would also make a few headlines.

    1. babaganoush

      I agree. Charging for a stripped-down, no-nonsense version that gets an update maybe every 5 years is the way forward. I'd pay for it.

  10. Eric Olson

    The irony...

    After I did the update so I would remember to disable to feature, the typical "new version" tab was advertising their VPN and proclaiming how your privacy matters.

    Never mind that the VPN would make the localized suggestions pointless, but it also means they aren't being upfront about a rather huge privacy change.

    I will also note the setting indicates it "Helps fund Firefox development and optimization," so at least they are being upfront on why they've included it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Practical Alternatives

    The Firefox fellas & fems need to eat and are in an invideous situation. Currently the market is massivly unballenced and is therefore not functioning as Google has a massive share, it sponsers Firefox, whilst sharpening the axe in the background as a threat and it has as a client Microsoft. Thus it has a disproportionate share of the market.

    I can't beleive that I am suggesting this but it would be a much healthier situation if Microsoft were to use Firefox technology. This would rebalance the market and give Goo gull some competition.

    In the corperate space Firefox should sell itself as the secure option with a corporate IT friendly focus. By corporate I also include governmental customers.

    In the domestic space give the users a real option between an adds based service but with a secure twist (as much as you posibly can) and a cheap non-ads service, say £5 or £10 per year.

    Do it all and this would give them a distinctive product and reaason for existence in a more functionaly competative market and if ised more corporately a greater profile amongst the masses who currently are unaware of their existance.

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Practical Alternatives

      In the domestic space give the users a real option between an adds based service but with a secure twist (as much as you posibly can) and a cheap non-ads service, say £5 or £10 per year.

      I don't think that'll be enough though. Not unless you can massively grow market share.

      Firefox has something under 260 million desktop installs. If you can convince 1% to cough up £10 for a "pro" or ad-free version then that's £26m. If another 1% cough up £5 for a middle-version that's another £13m.

      For sure it's diversity of income and makes then less reliant on Google, but Mozilla run on an annual budget of >$300m (granted there's the Foundation/Corp angle of it). So they'd need significant additional income.

      Now maybe I'm being pessimistic. If you can get 2-3% to pay then you'd be getting there. In principle £1/install would more than do the job. Micro-transactions? On iOS the mobile version will always be Safari under the hood, but can they find a killer feature that's worth £1.50? People are more than happy to pay money for flappy crush saga. But they need to step up their market presence and push whatever USP they have. Realistically people will just use Safari, Edge or Chrome.

      Of course Mozilla do things which aren't Firefox, so it might be possible to do a paid-version of those. Presumably they make some money out of reselling Mullvad VPN. Maybe develop a support package for corporates to pitch in a few quid. Or charge £10/yr for the FF Dev Edition.

      And they could also not pay Mitchell Baker $3m/yr. Executive pay at Mozilla is starting to make some bankers look modest (albeit there are no stock options). She's added half a million dollars a year to her salary whilst laying off hundreds of staff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        and there you hit the nail on the head.

        The management is spending money on initiatives that are failing, while giving themselves raises, and cutting to the quick the parts of the foundation that had made it thrive.

        They have stopped trying to succeed as a project, they are just picking the bones knowing that they can look busy and keep getting paid as long as they keep the anti-trust heat off of Google and M$.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Practical Alternatives

        > If you can convince 1% to cough up £10 for a "pro" or ad-free version

        Netscape has proven that nobody pays if they can use an equivalent free browser. Good intentions and big declarations always stop just in front of the wallet. Not to mention asking for money isn't the best way to gain lost market share...

        Also, increasingly people go ad-blind: I was asking somebody the other day if he wasn't annoyed by the mass of shrill ads crawling all over the page he was consulting. He sincerely replied "Huh? Which ads?". He has learned to mentally filter them out like background noise.

        Meaning that nobody will be paying for no ads. The techies will set up their piholes and stuff, and the rest will just accept their fate with the ancient words of wisdom "whatcha gonna do?"...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Practical Alternatives

          Netscape might have proven something but that was 25 years ago (Yes we're old), all the premises of that argument have probably changed since. Proton is the obvious example, people pay to have an privacy friendly email address and calendar, something you use way less frequently than a browser. Arguably a browser exposes you a lot more to the baddies than your calendar and email.

          Also, believing that you can somehow mentally filter ads is wrong. You probably don't believe it either but I wanted to make sure it's written.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Mozilla runs on an annual budget of >$300M

        How on earth does Mozilla need $300M each year?

        I realise that browsers have got well beyond emacs levels of complexity (ahem) these days, but that seems at least an order of magnitude out of whack, surely? What on earth are they squandering it all on?

        And if, as it sounds, they are top-heavy with overpaid troough-slurping "execs", and not enough proper devs (etc), it's clear where the efficiency cutbacks really need to be.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Practical Alternatives

      The Firefox fellas & fems need to eat and are in an invideous situation

      Then they need to stop turning their browser to shit and dropping important features. They've already chased me away to [spit] Chrome.

    3. Woodnag

      Re: Practical Alternatives

      Firefox "fellas & fems"?

      They may have non-binary staff too. "people" is easier.

  12. Blackjack Silver badge

    Honesty while I am poor I would have prefered a donate button.

    There is a reason I am using Icecat and Iceraven and is because default Firefox had been getting worse over the years.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > I would have prefered a donate button

      There already is one ("About" menu), since always. Proof it isn't very efficient...

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        It should be in clear view, how many times a day you use the "about" thing?

  13. grizewald

    What other browser runs NoScript, uBlock Origin and Cookie Autodelete?

    I've used Firefox for a long time, primarily because it supports full function versions of these three plugins.

    Not only do they keep malicious Javascript at bay, they allow me to be as useless as possible to those who think it's OK to monetise my activity without permission or payment.

    This is a real "wrong direction" move from Mozilla; one serious enough to make me contemplate ditching Firefox.

    What are the alternatives (on Linux)?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So in summary. FF proposes to poison search results with ads.

    That is bad enough but the ads will now be for stuff In have already bought, so no longer have the need to look for, stuff I have looked at and decided I don't want, stuff that the advertiser has decided is similar to, but not actually anything like, the stuff I have bought or looked at and have absolutely no interest in, stuff that is "trending" (as if that was somehow relevant to anyone)

    Sorry FF but you can go screw yourselves.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use extensive ad blocking and share as little data as possible !!!

    What is an Ad ???

    What is a search suggestion ???

    :)

    P.S. I use FF with a few addons of choice !!!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gulp

    They rake in something like $500 million per year already. WTF are they doing with it all???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: gulp

      well, I presume [almost] all of this goes back to paying developers who develop firefox, their flagship product, right? Oh.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is horrible, but...

    I still feel the need to count myself part of Firefox's market share, because the world desperately needs a non-Google-engine browser.

    So I use Firefox Developer Edition and harden it:

    https://brainfucksec.github.io/hardening-firefox-sep-2021-update

    (there are other hardening guides too - I just like this one)

  18. six_tymes

    people are still using that browser in 2021? that is surprising.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Of course people still use it -- it's the only one which supports Capital letters! Apparently.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "people are still using that browser in 2021? that is surprising"

      Surprised as well. It's shite, particularly in the favs department.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. a small "Not now" link.

    this one always gets me when I see it. It's that huge, monstreous 'cuddly' teddy bear bully telling you, in plain English: you little, thankless user-shit, I'm letting you off THIS TIME, but we shall meet again, and THEN I wil l FUCK YOU anyway!

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    Two things

    First, do not create a Firefox account. Ever.

    Second, clear your history every single day or use Private Browsing as much as possible. You can also set FireFox to delete all tracking data, page caches, cookie, etc, when closing your session.

    Install and use ad blocking plug-ins. NoScript and UBlock seem to work the best. Yes, they will take constant adjusting until they work with your personal needs.

    Do this and you can stop worrying about the low hanging fruit.

  21. U1traVio1et

    i would love to know what they are doing with all the money google gives them each year

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