Menu Close

Whose browser is it anyway?

For most of us, our web browser remains our primary “window upon the world”, so it’s important we can trust it.

There isn’t much choice.  You are nagged and pushed to use the browser the platform vendor wants you to use and, in most circumstances, the purpose is that the vendors get to use and sell your search data.

Disturbingly, starting from 4th July (happy Independence Day to our US friends) and version 115 115, Firefox can silently and remotely disable extensions within your browser.

The release notes say “ We have introduced a new back-end feature to only allow some extensions monitored by Mozilla to run on specific websites for various reasons, including security concerns.”

For various reasons.” That’s quite uninformative and mysterious.

We are all in favour of providing users control over which extensions are allowed to load on which sites (this is already present in Safari) but this isn’t that, Mozilla has now given itself the ability to control that and decide for itself.

This isn’t about extension misbehaviour. Since Mozilla has to analyse and cryptographically sign extensions before they can be installed in Firefox, it’s unclear why there should be a list of domains where only Mozilla chosen extensions can operate. Mozilla’s opacity and vagueness here feels almost deliberate.

We don’t like extension monopolies any more than browser monopolies.

This undermines our trust.