Tor and Mozilla Team Up to Protect Internet Privacy

Carey Wedler
November 12, 2014

(TheAntiMedia) Mozilla, maker of Firefox, and  Torthe non-profit that protects anonymity on the webare teaming up to protect the Internet. Mozilla announced the news this week that they are working together to improve privacy features.

In the company’s blog post about the venture, called Polaris, Denelle Dixon-Thayer cited a Harris poll that found 74% of Americans feel they have less privacy than a year ago. To challenge this, Mozilla and Tor launched Polaris, which they describe as as

“…designed to allow us to collaborate more effectively, more explicitly and more directly to bring more privacy features into our products. We want to accelerate pragmatic and user-focused advances in privacy technology for the Web, giving users more control, awareness and protection in their Web experiences.”

Along with Tor, which made headlines after the FBI’s Silk Road shutdown last week, Mozilla is working with the Center for Democratic Technology. Justin Brookman of CDT, also a non-profit, stated that the group

“looks forward to working with Mozilla on the Polaris program and advising on issues like combating Internet censorship and protecting online anonymity, which are vital to promoting free expression online.”

On Monday, Mozilla announced two initial “experiments” of Polaris, “focused on anti-censorship technology, anonymity, and cross-site tracking protection.” The first involves Mozilla engineers evaluating the Tor Project’s modifications to Firefox to determine if even further changes can help Tor work more efficiently. Mozilla will also “soon begin hosting [their] own high-capacity Tor middle relays to make Tor’s network more responsive and allow Tor to serve more users” (according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, relays are routers or nodes that “receive traffic on the internet and pass it on”).

Andrew Lewman of Tor expressed optimism about this first endeavor of the project. He stated that

“We look forward to working together on privacy technology, open standards, and future product collaborations.”

The second “experiment” will focus on offering a feature that protects users from

“invasive tracking without penalizing advertisers and content sites that respect a user’s preference.”

Mozilla has long opposed government intrusion into the Internet.  It has publicly protested various congressional votes on internet censorship policies like SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA.

The company’s move is in line with recent market responses to government surveillance, which the government has sharply criticized.

As Mozilla stated in its announcement:

“At Mozilla, we believe that an individual’s  privacy on the Internet cannot be treated as optional…We want to give our users the Web experience they want through features that create transparency and control.  We want our users to trust us and the Web.”

Values like these are proving to be in high demand as companies and organizations that respond to them enjoy increasing support.

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