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Mozilla: Emily Dunham Leaves, Management Pitches Privacy

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  • Emily Dunham: Moving on from Mozilla

    Today – Friday, May 22nd, 2020 – is within days of my 5-year anniversary with Mozilla, and it’s also my last day there for a while. Working at Mozilla has been an amazing experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

    There are some things that Mozilla does extremely well, and I’m excited to spread those patterns to other parts of the industry. And there are areas where Mozilla has room for improvement, where I’d like to see how others address those challenges and maybe even bring back what I learn to Moz someday.

  • Protecting Search and Browsing Data from Warrantless Access

    As the maker of Firefox, we know that browsing and search data can provide a detailed portrait of our private lives and needs to be protected. That’s why we work to safeguard your browsing data, with privacy features like Enhanced Tracking Protection and more secure DNS.

    Unfortunately, too much search and browsing history still is collected and stored around the Web. We believe this data deserves strong legal protections when the government seeks access to it, but in many cases that protection is uncertain.

  • The USA Freedom Act and Browsing History

    ast Thursday, the US Senate voted to renew the USA Freedom Act which authorizes a variety of forms of national surveillance. As has been reported, this renewal does not include an amendment offered by Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Steve Daines that would have explicitly prohibited the warrantless collection of Web browsing history. The legislation is now being considered by the House of Representatives and today Mozilla and a number of other technology companies sent a letter urging them to adopt the Wyden-Daines language in their version of the bill. This post helps fill in the technical background of what all this means.

    Despite what you might think from the term “browsing history,” we’re not talking about browsing data stored on your computer. Web browsers like Firefox store, on your computer, a list of the places you’ve gone so that you can go back and find things and to help provide better suggestions when you type stuff in the awesomebar. That’s how it is that you can type ‘f’ in the awesomebar and it might suggest you go to Facebook.

    [...]

    Unfortunately, historically the line between content and metadata hasn’t been incredibly clear in the US courts. In some cases the sites you visit (e.g., www.webmd.com) are treated as metadata, in which case that data would not require a warrant. By contrast, the exact page you went to on WebMD would be content and would require a warrant. However, the sites themselves reveal a huge amount of information about you. Consider, for instance, the implications of having Ashley Madison or Stormfront in your browsing history. The Wyden-Daines amendment would have resolved that ambiguity in favor of requiring a warrant for all Web browsing history and search history. If the House reauthorizes USA Freedom without this language, we will be left with this somewhat uncertain situation but one where in practice much of people’s activity on the Internet — including activity which they would rather keep secret — may be subject to surveillance without a warrant.

More Mozilla

  • Mozilla Accessibility: Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

    Thursday, May 21, 2020, marks the ninth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

    Mozilla is committed to ensuring that all of our offerings are accessible and inclusive. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate that.

  • Data@Mozilla: Sharing data on Italy’s mid-pandemic internet outage

    As a data engineer at Mozilla, my colleagues and I study how internet connectivity changes over time and across regions. Like inclement weather, network outages are simply a fact of life: equipment that powers the internet can fail for numerous reasons in any country. As we know from reports of internet shutdowns and throttling by governments in different parts of the world, sometimes outages can also be intentional. But in terms of data, Mozilla measures outages and connection issues through a series of different metrics, including telemetry upload failures.

  • Mozilla Accessibility: Proper VoiceOver support coming soon to Firefox on MacOS

    Firefox 75, released in April, saw the first fruits of this work. Most notably, we learned our way around the Mac code base and the accessibility APIs. In the process we uncovered a small, but significant, piece we were missing that made us very fast all of a sudden. This small, but mighty, patch, enabled us to progress much more rapidly than we had expected. We also made the VoiceOver cursor visible, and made it follow focus. Also, if navigating with VoiceOver, we made focus follow it if VoiceOver’s setting for that was enabled. And, we also fixed some initial labeling inconsistencies across the board.

  • Data@Mozilla: This Week in Glean: mozregression telemetry (part 2)

    With the probe scraper change merged and deployed, we can now start querying! A number of tables are automatically created according to the schema outlined above: notably “live” and “stable” tables corresponding to the usage ping. Using sql.telemetry.mozilla.org we can start exploring what’s out there.

  • This Week in Glean: Bytes in Memory (on Android)

    With the Glean SDK we follow in the footsteps of other teams to build a cross-platform library to be used in both mobile and desktop applications alike.
    In this blog post we’re taking a look at how we transport some rich data across the FFI boundary to be reused on the Kotlin side of things. We’re using a recent example of a new API in Glean that will drive the HTTP upload of pings, but the concepts I’m explaining here apply more generally.

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Switching from MacBook to Chromebook: Is Chrome OS good enough?

Chrome OS often gets maligned as a platform that you can't do "real work" on, and in some cases, that's true. But sometimes, you don't need a computer that does absolutely everything, and that's why I decided to give switching to Chrome OS on my laptop a try. While I've retained my iMac as a proper workstation, my aging MacBook Air was due for an upgrade, and the opportunity to switch platforms presented itself. Could a simpler, cheaper Chromebook replace my MacBook for working on the go? While I found that the answer was decidedly "no" in some situations—and that simply adapting to Chrome OS and its limitations was a huge adjustment—I do think Chrome now has a place in my workflow, albeit one that is rather hit or miss. Chrome is also definitely still a problematic platform, and those limitations tend to define it in a lot of ways, which I'll explore more in this post. For some added context, here are the devices I'm throwing into the mix: I use a 27-inch iMac with 40GB of RAM and a 9th-gen 3.7GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 at home while my MacBook is running on 4GB of RAM and an aging 4th-gen dual-core Core i5. My new laptop/convertible is a 14-inch HP Chromebook x360 with 8GB of RAM and an 8th-gen dual-core Intel Core i3 (Taylor reviewed a similarly equipped variant here at Android Police). Read more

Programming Leftovers

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  • Why slowing new feature development can be the best way to maintain an open source project

    John Byrd is credited with a great statement: "Good programmers write good code. Great programmers write no code. Zen programmers delete code." It's perhaps an overstatement, but the idea behind it is spot on: As a code base accumulates cruft over time, great engineers will invest the time necessary to strip the code of technical debt. As DJ Walker-Morgan once put it, "Deleted lines [of code] are the final burn down of the ground where tech debt built." [...] We've seen this same principle applied in other projects. Apache Cassandra is a good, recent example. In talking with Cassandra insiders, there was a point when stability took precedence in the Cassandra community, with Apple, Netflix, and other big users of Cassandra joining forces on this goal as users got stuck on version 3.11. As cool as it sounds to issue yet another release, Cassandra users were tiring of revalidating their databases every two months when a new release hit. The Cassandra 4.0 effort has been a broad-based, community effort to get the Cassandra house in order.

  • The End is Near for Zend Server Basic PHP

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  • Seungha Yang: Unfortunately GStreamer 1.17

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  • How the End of Life for Open Source Python 2 Affects Enterprises
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  • Consistent Hashing

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  • Hazelcast CTO: 25 years of Java, welcome to the data-driven 3rd act

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CMS-Centric FOSS Funding

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TeleIRC 2.0.0 Released

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    After almost eight months of work, the TeleIRC Team is happy to announce General Availability of TeleIRC v2.0.0 today. Thanks to the hard work of our volunteer community, we are celebrating an on-time release of a major undertaking to make a more sustainable future for TeleIRC.

  • What’s new in TeleIRC v2.0.0

    TeleIRC v2.0.0 is the latest major release of our open source Telegram <=> IRC bridge. Download the latest release and read the release announcement for the full story. There are several new and noteworthy changes in TeleIRC v2.0.0. This post walks you through the major changes and differences for TeleIRC v2.0.0. Read on for the highlight reel of this release.