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Mozilla Revamps Firefox For iOS Devices

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla has rolled out a revamped Firefox for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, debuting the new look that will also grace the more popular desktop version of the browser next week.

Firefox for iOS version 10, which is available in the App Store, features the same user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) that will also mark Firefox 57 for Windows, macOS and Linux, when it ships Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Derived from an ongoing project tapped as “Photon,” the Firefox UI/UX mimics the minimalism of other browsers, notably Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge, with reduced clutter at the top of the window that includes combined address and search bars.

Firefox for iOS 10’s other changes range from a revamped menu under the three-lined “hamburger” icon at the upper right to a recast new tab display, with the latter replicating the desktop browser’s design.

But most of the drum-thumping that Mozilla has done for what it has billed as “Firefox Quantum” – the alternate name for the upcoming Firefox 57 – is simply moot, and muted, on iOS.

That’s because, like all browsers allowed into the App Store, Firefox for iOS is, at root, Safari, because Apple mandates that rivals rely on the same WebKit rendering and Nitro JavaScript engines used by its own Safari. Firefox on iOS, as is Chrome on the iPhone and iPad, is little more than a different UI wrapper around iOS’s default browser.

That leaves competitors able to credibly compete only on a UI basis, and on the argument that it’s more productive to use the same browser on both mobile and desktop.

So, Firefox on iOS cannot boast the same speed improvements that mark Firefox Quantum on personal computers – Mozilla said Quantum is twice as fast as Firefox of a year earlier – nor will the iPhone and iPad browser be able to offer the future additions Mozilla envisions for its desktop browser, among them a graphics processor-enhanced renderer.

Apple’s long-standing rule conceivably has multiple fathers, but the most important to Apple, certainly, is that it precludes anyone gaining a performance edge over Safari, which Firefox might if Mozilla were allowed to use its own under-the-hood technologies. Minus performance differences, there are few reasons for switching.

Apple’s position has paid off.

While Microsoft has seen its browsers’ share tank on the far-more-open Windows – in October, Internet Explorer and Edge accounted for 19.7% of all Windows browsers, down from 52% just two years earlier – Apple has kept its users close, and on Safari. According to Irish analytics vendor StatCounter, 92% of all browsing activity on iOS in October was via Safari. In the U.S., Safari’s percentage on iOS was a slightly higher 95.3%.

Another metrics vendor, U.S-based Net Applications, pegged Safari’s worldwide user share on iOS at 89.2%. (Those percentages from StatCounter and Net Applications were only possible to calculate because Safari runs only on iOS.)

 

Opera Browser Now Supports Virtual Reality

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Opera desktop browser was revamped with social media capabilities earlier this year, but the updates didn’t end there.

The latest update adds VR support to the multifaceted browser, letting you stream 360-degree videos to your HTC Vive or Oculus headset, as well as any OpenVR devices. It’ll also let you edit screenshots, add emojis and take selfies with your laptop camera.

The feature-packed update comes as Opera plays catch up to Chrome, Safari and Firefox, and the new features are part of the company’s plan to rethink and modernize the browser as part of its Reborn project.

While tracking site Statcounter says Opera’s market share is just 3.89 percent globally in October, Opera is reporting rosy numbers. It claims to have seen double-digit growth in 2017, with active monthly users increasing by 25 percent year-on-year. The company says use of its desktop browser has grown by 65 percent in the US, 64 percent in France and by 50 percent in the UK.

Other features previously added include built-in browser support for chat services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and VK. Unit conversions were also added in a September update, making it easier to figure out time zones, miles to kilometers and more.

FireFox Quantum Browser Coming In November

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

After being stuck in the slow lane for ages, Mozilla’s new Quantum browser is starting to look like it might be faster than Chrome.

A beta version of Firefox Quatum lets you test whether Mozilla’s newly named web browser, replete with changes built over more than a year, is a match for Google. We had a quick look and it managed to make Fudzilla’s esoteric CMS machine go like the clappers. Opera on the other hand keeps on insisting that it needs a password for every screen.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard claims that the new browser is a “big bang” although we suggest that probably means he needs to get out more. Company executives have acknowledged they let Firefox languish but now it is ready to do better with its life.

Firefox 57 is faster at starting up and loading web pages, judged on page-load speed, “Firefox Quantum is often perceivably faster” while using 30 percent less memory, Nguyen said in a blog post Tuesday. And it’s twice as fast as Firefox a year ago.

The new Firefox revamp includes Quantum Flow, which stamps out dozens of performance bugs, and Quantum CSS, aka Stylo, which speeds up website formatting. Photon that kills Firefox’s rounded tabs and adds a “page action” menu into the address bar. It also builds in the Pocket bookmarking service Mozilla acquired and uses it to recommend sites.

All up, it does not appear too bad. The phrase “at bloody last” crosses my mind. It still needs its acid test – whether or not it can handle Mrs Farrell’s shopping, which for some reason requires 105 open tabs which must never be closed unless you want to be divorced.

Firefox Quantum will arrive in its final form on November the 14th.

Courtesy-Fud

CloudFlare To Launch Service To Protect Against Against DDoS Attacks

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Cloudflare is making protection against DDoS attacks free, regardless of how bad they are and claims that soon that method of bringing down a website will be history.

For those who came in late, Cloudflare is one of the bigger internet security firms and it wants to kill off distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks . The company announced Monday that every customer—including those who only use its free services—will receive a new feature called Unmetered Mitigation, which protects against every DDoS attack, regardless of its size.

Now every website can fight back against DDoS attacks for free. Previously, customers who bought less expensive plans from Cloudflare, or another security firm, were still vulnerable to larger scale DDoS attacks. Now, Cloudflare will use its resources to help everyone fight an attack, regardless of how much they pay.

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said the standard practice in the industry for some time has been to charge more if you come under attack and will fire you as a customer if you’re not sort of paying enough and you get a large attack.

Prince said that Unmetered Mitigation has the power to render DDoS an activist tool of the past.

Prince sees the playing field of DDoS attacks as fundamentally uneven. “We should not create a system of vigilante justice where a single individual—because they are upset with someone—can shut them down,” he said. “What we are trying to do is say ‘regardless of what your resources are, we will keep you online.'”

He told Motherboard: “We can now absorb anything that the internet throws at us,” he said. DDoS attacks are going to become “something you only read about in the history books”.

Courtesy-Fud

Google’s Chrome Exploring Strengthen Of Ad-blocking In Browser

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has included a built-in ad blocker to earlier version of Chrome, signaling that it will assume responsibility for barring some online ads in the polished product as early as October.

The ad blocker appeared in some users’ copies of the “Canary” build of Chrome last week; Canary is the name Google gives to the preliminary version of the browser, one that is updated nightly and precedes the three-step release process of “Dev,” “Beta” and finally “Stable” code.

Chrome’s ad blocker was present only in Windows’ Canary build; it was AWOL from the macOS edition.

Reports of Google’s ad-blocking plans first surfaced in April, shortly after the Coalition for Better Ads announced a set of online ad types that users in the U.S. and Europe said were the most annoying and disruptive. Google was a founding member of the coalition. Two months ago, Google confirmed that it would introduce ad blocking to Chrome, saying then that the target timetable was next year.

“We plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018,” Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, a product management executive, wrote in the Google post.

On the desktop, Chrome will block pop-up advertisements; ads that automatically begin playing both video and audio; “prestitial” ads accompanied by a countdown clock that appear before content is shown; and what the coalition dubbed “large sticky ads,” those that account for more than 30% of the screen space and which remain in place no matter how much the user scrolls.

Those and other types of ads will also be blocked by Chrome on Android- and iOS-powered mobile devices.

Ads will be blocked by site, not by individual advertisement. In other words, Google will craft a list of websites it contends “tend to show intrusive ads,” and then block the ad categories that violate the coalition’s “standards.” A stray “bad” ad displayed by a site not on the list, however, will not be blocked.

While Google has pegged 2018 as the launch of the baked-in ad blocker, the tool may debut sooner. The current Canary of Chrome is version 62, which according to the release schedule, will release in final form as the Stable build on Oct. 17 for personal computers, Oct. 24 for mobile.

Microsoft’s Edge Browser Continues Its Free Fall

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft’s browsers last month continued their downward spiral, again shedding a significant amount of user share, an analytics company reported today.

According to data from California-based Net Applications, the user shareof Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge — an estimate of the proportion of the world’s personal computer owners who ran those browsers — fell by nearly a full percentage point in May, ending at a combined 23.2%.

May’s decline was the largest since January, and could signal a resumption of the precipitous plunge IE and Edge experienced in 2016, when the browsers lost more than 22 percentage points, almost half their total share at the start of that year, and ceded the top spot to Google’s Chrome.

Microsoft’s problem, as it has been since mid-2015, stemmed from two factors: A persistent decline in the demoted-to-legacy IE, which was expected after the launch of Windows 10, and the inability, to put it mildly, for Edge, 10’s default browser, to make up the difference. The second was certainly not in Microsoft’s projections.

In the last 11 months, IE’s share dropped by 41%, while Edge’s increased by only 11%. On its own, IE has been under the 20% mark since January, and fell to a new low of 17.6% in May. Meanwhile, Edge stayed flat for the fourth month in a row at 5.6%. All of those ingredients cooked up a debacle.

Projections of the IE + Edge combination hint at an even uglier future. IE and Edge could fall under 20% as soon as this month, and likely by no later than December, according to the 12- and three-month trends in the data.

Although Microsoft has aggressively touted Edge, the effort has not yet paid off. Last month, just 21% of all Windows 10 users ran Edge as their primary browser, down from 29% a year earlier. Some analysts, however, expect Edge to turn toward a larger share of Windows 10 once enterprises seriously start migrating corporate PCs to the new OS, and, more importantly, when they divest themselves of the legacy web apps and intranet sites that require workers to run IE alongside a “modern” browser, like Edge.

May’s biggest beneficiary was Chrome, which added four-tenths of a percentage point to its user share, reaching a record 59.4%. Computerworld‘s forecast — again using the trends in Net Applications’ data — puts Chrome over the 60% bar by August at the latest.

Mozilla’s Firefox, which in the first quarter of 2017 lost four-tenths of a percentage point, recouped half of that last month, climbing to 12%, its highest mark since December.

Net Applications estimates user share by sniffing the browser agent strings of those who visit its clients’ websites, then tallying the various browsers and operating systems. It also weights each country’s data by the size of its online population to account for areas, such as China, where it lacks large numbers of analytics customers.

 

Mozilla Rolls Out Improved Version Of Firefox

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla continued its years-long campaign to make Firefox more technologically competitive with the competition, Google’s Chrome in particular, by boosting performance, increasing stability and reining in memory consumption.

The open-source developer also patched 31 security vulnerabilities, three of them rated “Critical,” the firm’s most serious ranking.

Firefox 54, released June 13, expanded on Mozilla’s multi-process project, code-named “Electrolysis” (shortened to “e10s”), that since 2009 has tried to mimic Chrome, and separate the browser’s operation into more than one CPU process. Previously, Firefox split its user interface (UI) and all content into separate processes — running all tabs in one of those processes — to prevent the browser from completely crashing when a website or web app failed. Firefox 54 uses up to four processes to run the browser’s tabs, assigning each to one of the CPU buckets.

“By separating the tabs into separate processes, we make better use of the hardware on your computer, so Firefox can deliver you more of the web you love, with less waiting,” assured Nick Nguyen, the product lead for Firefox, in a post to a company blog. In the same piece, Nguyen bragged that version 54 was “the best release of Firefox ever.”

Because operating multiple processes bloats a browser’s memory consumption, and also because Firefox pre-e10s was extensively criticized as a RAM pig, Nguyen asserted that version 54 uses “significantly less RAM” than rivals such as Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Edge. Elsewhere, Ryan Pollack, a product marketing manager at Mozilla, argued that the four-process limit is the correct compromise between low and high memory use. He even cited the Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale to declare that the balance between performance (lots of processes) and memory consumption (few processes) is perfect.

“Firefox uses four content processes because it’s the ‘just right’ number for many Firefox users,” said Pollack. “With four content processes, your computer should have plenty of memory left to run apps besides Firefox.”

Chrome has relied on a multi-process model since its 2008 launch. Because it devotes a separate process to each tab, and each process requires memory, Chrome generally consumes much more memory than other browsers. (Safari uses a similar, but not identical, multi-process model that ultimately eats less RAM than Chrome. Edge, too, uses multiple processes.) So, it wasn’t surprising that Pollack compared Firefox 54’s memory appetite primarily to Chrome’s, and charged that in a 30-tab test the latter required up to 2.4 times the RAM of Firefox.

Users with devices boasting larger amounts of RAM — more than 8GB, Pollack said — can boost the number of processes Firefox 54 consumes by typing about:config in the browser’s address bar, then changing the number for the dom.ipc.processCount setting.

While e10s has been a focus of Mozilla engineers for two years, the project also illustrated how far Firefox had fallen behind other browsers, notably Chrome but even, in areas, Edge. Mozilla has suffered several massive defeats in recent years, including a drubbing over mobile operating systems and a lesser beating from a stab at in-browser advertising. Lately, it has rededicated itself to Firefox, but the jury remains undecided, with some, including a former CTO, maintaining that the browser has no chance of unseating Chrome.

Last month, Firefox accounted for 12% of all browsers used worldwide, about a fifth of the share owned by Chrome and half that of a combined Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge. That May number was the highest of the year so far, but it was also nearly identical to Firefox’s share of 24 months earlier, showing how mired the browser had become.

Is The Pentagon Still Running Windows 95 And XP?

May 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The US government might have the latest in military technology, but the computers behind the whole thing are older than some of the soldiers it sends to fight.

The army is proud of the fact that it is going to complete a Windows 10 transition by the end of this year, but 75 per cent of its control system devices still run Windows XP or other older versions. There are some sites running Windows 95 and 98.

The logic is that while a lot of these systems are still Windows 95 or 98, that’s OK – because they’re not connected to the internet.

A Pentagon official now wants the bug bounty program of the top U.S. Defence agency expanded to scan for vulnerabilities in its critical infrastructure.

DefenceOne raises the possibility of “building and electrical systems, HVAC equipment and other critical infrastructure laden with internet-connected sensors,” with one military program manager saying

Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, “the Defence Department is paying Microsoft to continue providing support for the legacy OS” it no longer even thinks about Windows 95 or 98.

Courtesy-Fud

Was Apple Really Selling Bricked Phones?

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Australian users have a bit of a DIY mentality – like New Zealanders they can’t see the point of paying a fortune for something that they can get a mate to fix cheaper.  Normally they would only take it in to Apple if the problem cannot be fixed with masking tape and number eight fencing wire.  Apple has a huge problem with this. It makes a fortune charging fees to have its spotty blue shirts repairing things that most uses could fix with a screwdriver and WD40.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Apple thought it would be a rather super, cool, and revolutionary thing to brick iPhones which had not been repaired by its Genii. The way users would have to return the phone to be fixed.

Australia’s consumer watchdog has sued Apple claiming that the bricking happened in a software update which had cracked screens fixed by third parties and then refused to unlock them on the grounds that customers had had the devices serviced by non-Apple repairers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told the court that consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party.

Of course Apple is not saying anything. We have no doubt that its acolytes really believe that they are saving the customers’ souls from the dangers of cheap repairs. Everyone knows that all the phones don’t really belong to the users but are given in a sacred trust to the user for large amounts of cash on the assumption that they will never touch without the blessing of the church.

The regulator said that between September 2014 and February 2016, Apple customers who downloaded software updates then connected their devices to their computers received a message saying the device “could not be restored and the device had stopped functioning”.

Apple engaged in “misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to consumers” about its software updates and customers’ rights to have their products repaired by the company, the commission said.

As well as fines, the ACCC said it was seeking injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs.

Courtesy-Fud

Scammers Trick iPhone Users Into Paying To Fix Non-existent Problem

March 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has fixed a bug in the iOS version of Safari that had been used by criminals to trick phone owners into paying $125 or more because they assumed the browser was broken.

The flaw, fixed in Monday’s iOS 10.3 update, had been reported to Apple a month ago by researchers at San Francisco-based mobile security firm Lookout.

“One of our users alerted us to this campaign, and said he had lost control of Safari on his iPhone,” Andrew Blaich, a Lookout security researcher, said in a Tuesday interview. “He said, ‘I can’t use my browser anymore.'”

The criminal campaign, Blaich and two colleagues reported in a Monday post to Lookout’s blog, exploited a bug in how Safari displayed JavaScript pop-ups. When the browser reached a malicious site implanted with the attack code, the browser went into an endless loop of dialogs that refused to close no matter who many times “OK” was tapped. The result: Safari was unusable.

At the same time, the attack showed a message, purportedly from a law enforcement agency, demanding payment to unlock the browser for, in one instance at least, simply steering to a URL that suggested the site’s content was pornographic. Payment was to be made by texting a £100 ($125) iTunes gift card code to a designated number.

Blaich stressed that the attack was as much scam as scare: To regain control of Safari, all one had to do was head to Settings, tap Safari, then Clear History and Website Data.

“This was a scareware attack, where [the attackers] were trying to get people to not think and just pay,” said Blaich.

Scareware is a label applied to phony security software that claims a computer is heavily infected with malware. Such software nags users with pervasive pop-ups and fake alerts until they fork over the “registration” fee, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars.

In iOS 10.3, Apple re-engineered Safari so that it handles JavaScript pop-ups on a per-tab basis. iOS 10.3 also patched 84 security vulnerabilities.

“[The hackers] hoped you would just react, want to cover it up, then pay and move on,” Blaich said.

Mozilla’s Firefox Rolls Out Version 52, Bans Nearly All Plug-ins

March 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla has officially updated Firefox to version 52, which warns users when they put passwords into non-encrypted websites, bars all plug-ins other than Adobe’s Flash Player and adds support for an under-consideration technology standard that claims to run web apps at nearly the same speed as native code.

Firefox 52 also patched 28 security vulnerabilities, a half dozen of them tagged with the “Critical” label. On another security front, the browser now pops up a warning message when users start to type in a password into a page not secured — and encrypted — with HTTPS.

The just-instituted plug-in prohibition applied to NPAPI plug-ins, (Netscape Plug-in Application Programming Interface) a format from the 1990s and Netscape, the browser Microsoft buried in its antitrust-triggering battle over the browser market. NPAPI has now been banned from most browsers; Apple’s Safari is the largest exception.

But Mozilla trumpeted Firefox 52’s support for WebAssembly the loudest.

In a pair of posts — one to a company blog, another to Medium.com, Mozilla executives touted Firefox as the first to support WebAssembly; that wasn’t much of a surprise, since the potential standard stemmed from a Mozilla research project.

“WebAssembly is one of the biggest advances to the Web Platform over the past decade,” contended David Bryant, who leads the company’s platform engineering team.

According to Bryant, WebAssembly will let developers create CPU-intensive apps — such as games, 3D renderers, video editors — that run in near-native speed without relying on plug-ins. Bryant envisioned WebAssembly (which also goes by “wasm”) as leading to both revamped current web apps and new categories that have been stymied by performance issues.

Bryant also called WebAssembly a “game changer.”

Apple (WebKit, the foundation of Safari), Google (Chrome) and Microsoft (Edge) have also signed on to WebAssembly. Google has said it will enable WebAssembly support in Chrome 57, currently slated to ship March 14.

Firefox 52 can be downloaded for Windows, macOS and Linux from Mozilla’s website. Current Firefox users may trigger an update by selecting ‘About Firefox” from the Firefox menu.

Apple’s Safari Browser Continues Shedding Users

March 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple’s Safari browser, like rival Internet Explorer (IE), has lost a rather large chunk of users in the last two years.

The most likely destination of Safari defectors: Google’s Chrome.

According to California-based analytics vendor Net Applications, in March 2015, an estimated 69% of all Mac owners used Safari to go online. But by last month, that number had dropped to 56%, a drop of 13 percentage points — representing a decline of nearly a fifth of the share of two years prior.

It was possible to peg the percentage of Mac users who ran Safari only because that browser works solely on macOS, the Apple operating system formerly labeled OS X. The same single-OS characteristic of IE and Edge has made it possible in the past to determine the percentage of Windows users who run those browsers.

Net Applications measures user share by sniffing the browser user agent string of visitors to its customers’ websites, then tallying the various browsers and OSes.

Safari’s share erosion was much less than that suffered by Microsoft’s browsers, particularly IE, during the same period. From March 2015 to February 2017, the use of Microsoft’s IE and Edge on Windows personal computers plummeted. Two years ago, the browsers were run by 62% of Windows PC owners; last month, the figure had fallen by more than half, to just 27%.

Simultaneous with the decline of IE has been the rise of Chrome. The user share of Google’s browser — its share of all browsers on all operating systems — more than doubled in the last two years, jumping from 25% in March 2015 to 59.5% last month. Along the way, Chrome supplanted IE to become the world’s most-used browser.

It’s impossible to be certain, but Chrome was probably the beneficiary from Safari’s user share decline as well. In the last 24 months, Mozilla’s Firefox — the other major browser alternative to Chrome for macOS users — has barely budged, losing just two-tenths of a percentage point in user share.

Apple’s iCloud Retained Deleted Browser History

February 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple’s iCloud appears to have been retaining users’ deleted internet browsing histories, including records over a year old.

Moscow-based forensics firm Elcomsoft noticed it was able to pull supposedly deleted Safari browser histories from iCloud accounts, such as the date and time the site was visited and when the record was deleted.

“In fact, we were able to access records dated more than one year back,” wrote Elcomsoft’s CEO Vladimir Katalov in a blog post.

Users can set iCloud to store their browsing history so that it’s available from all connected devices. The researchers found that when a user deletes that history, iCloud doesn’t actually erase it but keeps it in a format invisible to the user.

The company discovered the issue with its Phone Breaker product, a forensic tool designed to streamline the extracting files from an iCloud account.

Keeping a copy of a user’s browser history can certainly be “invaluable for surveillance and investigations,” Katalov said. But it’s unclear if Apple knew that its iCloud service was storing the deleted records.

On Thursday, Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but since Elcomsoft’s blog post went live, Apple appears to be “purging” older browser history records from iCloud, the forensics firm said.

“For what we know, they could be just moving them to other servers, making deleted records inaccessible from the outside,” the blog post said. But now only deleted records as old as only two weeks can be extracted, the company said.

Elcomsoft has previously found that Apple was saving users’ call history to iCloud, but offering no explicit way to turn the synching on or off. At the time, Apple responded that its call synching function was designed for convenience, allowing customers to return phone calls from any device.

For users concerned about their privacy, Elcomsoft said that they can opt-out of syncing their Safari browsing history from iCloud.

Privacy Groups Appeal To FTC Over Google’s Policy Change

December 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

google-building-3-150x150Privacy groups have made their concerns known to the Federal Trade Commission that Google is encroaching on user privacy through a policy change in June that allows it to combine personally identifiable information with browsing data collected by its DoubleClick digital advertising service.

The complaint, by Consumer Watchdog and Privacy Rights Clearing House, alleged that Google has created “super-profiles” as it can track user activity on Android mobile phones, with an 88 percent market share of smartphones worldwide. The information can also be gleaned “from any website that uses Google Analytics, hosts YouTube videos, or displays ads served by DoubleClick or AdSense,” according to the complaint.

The combination of data is in contrast to Google’s pledges not to combine users’ personally identifiable information with DoubleClick’s browsing data when acquiring the ad serving service in 2008, according to the complaint filed Thursday but made public on Monday. In October this year, ProPublica reported that Google “quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand” by its policy change in June that allowed the DoubleClick database of web browsing records to be combined with personal user data.

On June 28, Google users were informed of some new optional features introduced for their account that would give them more control over the data the company collects and how it’s used, while allowing the search giant to show more relevant ads. As part of the changes, Google struck out the language in its privacy policy stating that it would “not combine DoubleClick cookie information with personally identifiable information unless we have your opt-in consent,” according to the complaint. Existing users were presumably given the chance to opt out, but for new users the combination of personal and browsing data was done by default, it added.

An investigation by the FTC would add to a number of disputes the company has had with the FTC on privacy issues, including a $22.5 million settlement with the FTC in 2012 on charges that it misrepresented to users of Apple’s Safari browser that it would not place tracking cookies or serve targeted ads to those users. That action violated an earlier privacy settlement between the company and the FTC.

In 2012, Google introduced a new and controversial privacy policy that stated that when users are signed in, the company may combine their information across services used.

Mozilla’s Search Deal With Yahoo Appears To Be Paying Off

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mozilla-logo-2-150x150Mozilla has reported that revenue for 2015 was up 28% over the year before, the biggest increase in three years.

Nearly all the $421 million booked by the Mozilla Foundation came from royalty payments, the bulk of which originated, as always, from search deals that set defaults in the Firefox browser.

Mozilla Foundation is the nonprofit organization that oversees Mozilla Corp., the commercial arm which builds and maintains Firefox for personal computers and smartphones.

According to a financial statement, $417 million, or 99% of all revenue, came from royalty payments. The percentage of revenue derived from royalties has never dipped below 91% — Mozilla’s fortunes have always been tightly linked to the Firefox search deals — but 2015’s portion was the highest since 2010.

 Although Mozilla has tried to diversify its revenue sources, notably in early 2014 when it experimented with in-browser advertising, those attempts have not succeeded. Mozilla dropped the in-Firefox ad idea in December 2015, for example.

Nor has it been able to monetize mobile to any extent: Its Android and iOS versions of Firefox — the latter is actually just a wrapper around Apple’s Safari browser — have never been able to collect more than a minuscule portion of the market. Mozilla’s revenues, then, largely rely on the desktop Firefox, which runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Search-based revenue was approximately $410 million, representing 98% of all royalty income and 97% of Mozilla’s total revenue. The $410 million was $119 million more than in 2014, representing a 41% increase.

Mozilla was able to squeeze more out of its Firefox search deals because of two decisions it made in late 2014. First, it dumped the global arrangement it had with Google — whereby Google’s search engine was the default for virtually all copies of Firefox — and instead struck country-specific or regional deals with a dozen different search and information providers. Secondly, it negotiated a lucrative deal with Yahoo, which was made the default search provider for U.S. Firefox users.

The second deal was the more important of the two. Yahoo paid Mozilla about $375 million in 2015 — and is contracted to continue payments of that size until 2019 — or approximately $100 million more than Google laid out in 2013, the last full year of its Firefox arrangement. Other search contracts contributed $35 million to Mozilla’s coffers, Computerworldcalculated from the organization’s financial statement and tax return.

Mozilla trumpeted the change in search strategy even as it declined to point out the positive impact to its bottom line. “We decided that one global default search partner was no longer the right choice for our users or the web,” the organization said in a “State of Mozilla” report. “Instead, we adopted a more local and flexible approach by country to control our own destiny and to diversify the user experience and competitive landscape of web search globally.”

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