December 2, 2020

Online Privacy Initiative: Mozilla Foundation Partnering With Tor Project & Center for Democracy and Technology

From the Mozilla Foundation Privacy Blog:

Today, we are excited to announce a new strategic initiative at Mozilla called Polaris. Polaris is a privacy initiative built to pull together our own privacy efforts along with other privacy leaders in the industry.

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Today we’re announcing two experiments under the Polaris banner, focused on anti-censorship technology, anonymity, and cross-site tracking protection. First, Mozilla engineers are evaluating the Tor Project’s changes to Firefox, to determine if changes to our own platform codebase can enable Tor to work more quickly and easily. Mozilla will also soon begin hosting our own high-capacity Tor middle relays to make Tor’s network more responsive and allow Tor to serve more users.  “The Tor Project is excited to join Mozilla as a launch partner in the Polaris program. We look forward to working together on privacy
technology, open standards, and future product collaborations,” said  Andrew Lewman of the Tor Project.

The second experiment (which is our first in-product Polaris experiment) seeks to understand how we can offer a feature that protects those users that want to be free from invasive tracking without penalizing advertisers and content sites that respect a user’s preferences. We’re currently testing this privacy tool in our “Nightly” channel. The experiment is promising, but it’s not a full-fledged feature yet.  We’ll test and refine the user experience and platform behavior over the coming months and collect feedback from all sides before this is added to our general release versions.

From the Tor Project Blog:

The initial projects with Mozilla will focus on two areas:

Engineering support:

The Tor Browser is built on the Firefox platform and we are excited to have the resources of Mozilla’s engineers to help us merge the many Firefox privacy fixes into the Mozilla codebase. The increased attention from Mozilla will give us time to focus on finding and fixing new issues rather than maintaining our fork.

Network Support:

Tor’s network size constrains the number of users that can use Tor concurrently. In the short term, Mozilla will help address this by hosting high-capacity Tor middle relays to make Tor’s network more responsive and allow Tor to serve more users.

We believe that the Tor Browser is one of the best ways to protect privacy on the web and this partnership is a huge step in advancing people’s right to freedom of expression online.

Direct to Polaris Wiki

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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