We Need A New Browser, as Firefox is Funded by Google

#1

Mozilla Firefox is actually almost completely funded by Google, though they keep it quiet the company receives over 1/2 a billion US dollars each year from Google for misdirecting people to Google search, and also I assume for facilitating Google’s surveillance by not fighting against it.

Now Mozilla is a wonderful company, no doubt, it is actually legally-speaking two organisations. The first is Firefox which is a normal for-profit corporation which is funded by a deal with Google but is the past was also funded by a deal with Yahoo for a few years. The second is a non-profit “Foundation” which receives all the profits from Firefox which actually come from Google. This arrangement is legal and common in the United States.

I personally use Firefox as it is open source, and especially use Firefox Focus because it gives greater privacy than Firefox. But I can’t help but notice with all we’ve learned about humane tech that we need something that is even more humane.

I’ve an emerging theory about tech, that also applies to other business and politics, and that is the entire system (not just the economics of it) is based off of the following:

  • surveillance
  • attention
  • misdirection

My theory is that these three things should be seen as absolute harms to society. Yet these three things run much of the world. However it is possible to put them into check with a mixed system with a three-way balance between business (capitalism), politics (efficient government that works only for people) and nonprofits (volunteerism) which does not currently exist. In the current model, business has much control of corrupt politics and nonprofits, even over Firefox. However when corruption is reduced to zero, the balanced model I suggest becomes possible and therefore with no corruption we now have a fight against surveillance, attention and misdirection since none of these things are remotely in the best interest of people.

Most of the technology we use is designed to do these three things at its core. These are the real hidden currencies that we do not see, yet they are bought and sold at astronomical values. These currencies are built into the core of the way operating systems and programming languages are designed, how programs and services are designed, in fact they are all “on” by default in the existing system unless someone works hard to turn them off. And the only way to shut off these currencies is to have a real nonprofit creating the tech ecosystem, or at least in this case creating the browser.

So any tech company, including Firefox and my own, has the motivation to look good and do some good, while also making profits by quietly dealing in surveillance, attention and misdirection – and these are always harmful to people. In the case of Firefox, it is different because Firefox’s deal with Google funds a nonprofit Foundation. Firefox is of course much more ethical than other for-profit corporations.

Given that Firefox is not completely working in the interest of people I suggest that a nonprofit needs to fork the open source browser and take over its development under a new name and a new focus of being completely outside of the for-profit system of surveillance, attention and misdirection. This nonprofit replacing Mozilla could be funded by donations (hello Bill Gates!).

What do you think? Anyone up for this little task?

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#2

Browsers that respect your privacy. If Mozilla Firefox is funded by Google,there are other browsers to choose from.

Please post the link of the alleged connection of Mozilla Firefox to Google.

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#3

Am I good if I use Opera with duck duck go search engine? Curious.

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#4

Yes but can we trust them? The model of tech like politics and business is wolf in sheep’s clothing. A browser can respect our privacy on some regards, but then get paid by a big tech firm to misdirect people to a big tech search (which then contains misdirecting ads which are not blocked and therefore attention and privacy violations). So it’s selective humane tech, for profit. But that is exactly how all tech operates, they are selectively try to appear to be humane in some areas, only to be take advantage of people in other ways to make a profit. That is why a true nonprofit is in my opinion the better solution. (Mozilla is actually 2 organisations, a for-profit Firefox which uses its profits to fund the non-profit side.)

Regarding providing links, I’ve covered so much here I’ll allow readers to find their own sources. Because actually when you search for this you will see how well Mozilla has hidden that it is almost completely funded by Google, but at the same time you will easily find the facts even in Wikipedia. You will also see how Mozilla tries to hide the fact that it is a mostly for-profit company, though I should point out again that the profits go to fund its non-profit side.

Sorry that my original post wasn’t clear as there is a lot of background I left out which I have just added now.

Opera is part of the same system. I would guess that it is actually probably worse than Firefox since Firefox is open-source and also sends its profits to the Mozilla Foundation (and so the Google money goes to fund open leadership training for this Humane Technology Community). So Firefox is still the best choice in my opinion, but I am hoping that we can do better than Firefox.

I guess the only good search engine would also be a nonprofit, and as far as I know that doesn’t exist.

A humane browser would at least:

  1. Block all tracking and ads by default
  2. Give warnings about tech surveillance, attention and misdirection, and offer solutions
  3. Give preference to other non-profits, which would open the door to the development of a humane non-profit search engine, non-profit messaging service, and other humane non-profit services
  4. Be neutral, don’t promote any for-profit companies
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#5

In the FLOSS (Free and Libre Open Source Software) world there is a lot of talk about creating new browsers. Only today I bounced into Odysseus:

Odysseus is already and will continue to be a convenient, privacy-respecting, ethically designed, and opensource (under the GPLv3+ license) web browser that should run great on any free desktop. However work is ongoing to make Odysseus more convenient with handy navigation aids that gently and unobtrusively guide you wherever you want to go online

https://odysseus.adrian.geek.nz/ by Adrian Cochrane

I don’t know the product-readiness of these products and the problems you’ll face using them, but the subject is very much alive.

There are also completely alternative browsers, like Beaker browser that will enclose a new peer-to-peer web to you. I’m following the technology from a distance now, and never tried it. Dunno if it also allows regular browsing (thought it was derived from Chromium, however


I agree on your concerns regarding Mozilla and Firefox and what is at play there, @Free. I am a happy FF and FF Focus user myself, and those Big Tech links do not sit well with me. FLOSS Influencers like Aral Balkan and many others do not accept it, and are actively boycotting and rallying more people to do so.

Yet - and this has been discussed a number of times on Hacker News - browsers these days are enormously complex beasts of software. You don’t just build a feature-complete, private and secure, UX-friendly browser from scratch. This needs plenty of dedicated development and that needs plenty of money.

Most alternative browsers are forks of existing browser projects. With Microsoft dropping their own engine and going full-on with Chromium from now on, there is only one big name left standing that competes with a unique engine design. And that is Mozilla with Firefox. And that is a very important fact to consider in your choice. If people switch en masse away from and Mozilla goes bust, then it is Chromium allt the way… and some sprinkles of browser dust here and there.

It is a Devil’s pact, really. Another thing that is interesting: people say that Google is supporting Firefox to co-exist with them, as this makes it less likely that their Chrome be seen as a true monopoly and lawmakers jumping in to split that up. Who knows… might well be so.

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#6

I don’t think there is really so much money involved here. Maybe even none at all. The mentors that do the training are all volunteers in the Mozilla Pulse network using their own tools even (though some tool use will be paid by Mozilla, like Zoom for video chat).

Personally I think that the Open Leaders program is more of a marketing instrument, that is a) used to advertise stance on openness / internet health on social media and b) creates new advocates for Mozilla from the candidate base that participate in the program.

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#7

Thanks, you’re on top of everything as always.

I considered already that browsers are extremely complex. Also it’s great that with Firefox the Google money is currently being put to good use in forcing Google to pay to fight itself via Firefox development.

That’s why I suggested forking Firefox, creating a nonprofit funded by donors. Also I’m sure that it could be developed for lower cost than Firefox given their office locations. It is just a fork actually, so Firefox would still do most of the development. It’s just an idea, maybe to scare Firefox, because the ideal would be for Firefox itself to do the following:

  1. Raise money for a humane Firefox from big donors and even governments, promising a new humane tech ecosystem
  2. Scale down their development costs by closing their rich world expensive city offices and replacing them with offices in low cost cities in the world
  3. Be content with a much smaller budget

Seeing as the above being not likely, what company is going to accept 1/10 or 1/5th of its prior budget and have to fire all its staff and hire all new ones? I don’t think they would ever do that which is why I suggested a fork. Obviously it would be really hard to fund this, but if sold as changing the tech world forever for the better, and with a good strong team, maybe somebody would agree to fund this kind of crazy idea.

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#8

@siddhi, opera, brave, chrome, Vivaldi, yandex (maybe 15 others, and soon MS Edge too) are all “wrappers” over the chromium browser an opensource project which is under Google’s leadership. By wrappers I mean, they add components over on top of chromium. Brave adds their adblocking shields over chromium for example.

@free, a remake/fork of firefox called “GNU ICECAT” already exists and maintained by GNU project. Comes with many addons and privacy features by default, however their LibreJs addon may cause breakage in many sites and you need to keep adjusting that addon if some sites don’t work very well.

@aschrijver, aral mentioned in Mastodon that he does use a modified Firefox as his daily browser. . He promotes safari too which is an apple product…

So everyone seems to be fine with using a firefox fork. I personally prefer vanilla firefox, also have GNU ICECAT for testing add-ons :slight_smile:

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#9

I am not smart enough to help you build a browser, but if you need anybody to be an evangelist, or somebody to just bounce ideas off of, let me know.

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#10

Building a new browser isn’t the problem. It is already built, it would just be a fork.

@gkrishnaks Thanks for mentioning GNU ICECAT. Anyone can fork, the issue is marking it user friendly and marketing it to consumers. That takes some kind of super human humane tech marketing and some giant program to save the world in the progress.

And if anyone is in doubt, I just opened Firefox and after some update I saw a Firefox ad for applying for a new credit card on the “home page” “pocket” whatever the f* those are supposed to be. Money money money, greed greed greed.

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#11

Hmm yeah, Gnu Icecat is not exactly user-friendly out of the box.

I just spoke to Adrian the creator of Odysseus browser project on Mastodon. Cloned odysseus code and built the browser. It is still under development, and promises an Ethical alternative to browsers by big companies. :slight_smile:

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#12

Not directly related but I just read this article about framasoft nonprofit with 6 employees , how they support many services for the general public’s benefit without mining users’ data… nice to read :

I use their Mastodon instance at framapiaf.org.

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#13

Well… reading this it may be harder than we think it is:

Huge discussion on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19553941

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#14

Wondering this what happens when to much power at the hands of a tech giant. Monopolistic company historically didn’t want to have real competitors that would threaten their hold on the market. The consequences it stifle innovation and lack of choices to the consumers. Real and healthy competition are basic economic forces that benefits the consumers as well the whole marketplace and the society at large or the whole world.

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#15

Opera is owned by Chinese investors and probably giving your data to the gov’t.

I use Brave Browser, which was actually started by the former CEO of the Mozilla Foundation and inventor of JavaScript. Awesome browser and they are partnered with DuckDuckGo and Qwant for search and have a whole ecosystems for payments and they will actually pay you if you set everything up (check out Brave rewards and Brave Wallet).

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#16

I’ve been using Brave as my default browser for a while and it’s great. It’s built on Chromium so you get all the familiar features minus the evil tracking

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#17

No opinion, but regarding Brave I would read the Mastodon discussion in Attention tokens: is Brave doing enough? and do some more research.

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