The Mozilla Blog., 15
Dispatches from the Internet frontier.

1. Prepare to be Creeped Out., 15 [−]

Mozilla Fellow Hang Do Thi Duc joins us to share her Data Selfie art project. It collects the same basic info you provide to Facebook. Sharing this kind of data about yourself isnt something wed normally recommend. But, if you want to know whats happening behind the scenes when you scroll through your Facebook feed, installing Data Selfie is worth considering. Use at your own risk. If you do, you might be surprised by what you see.

Hi everyone, Im Hang,

Ever wonder what Facebook knows about you? Why did that ad for motorcycle insurance pop up when you dont own a motorcycle? Why did that ad for foot cream pop up right after you talked about your foot itching?

I wondered. So I created something to help me find out. I call it Data Selfie. Its an add-on–a little piece of software you download to use with your web browser–that works in both Firefox and Chrome.

How does it work? Every time you like, click, read, or post something on Facebook, Facebook knows. Even if you dont comment or share much, Facebook learns about you as you scroll through your feed.

My add-on does something similar. Its here to help you understand how your actions online can be tracked. It does this by collecting the same information you provide to Facebook, while still respecting your privacy.

NOTE: The add-on is available in Firefox too.

Want to see what your Data Selfie looks like? Heres how:

  1. Go here:
  2. Download the Firefox or Chrome add-on
  3. Check out my privacy policy if you want to know more about how this works .
  4. Youll see an eye icon that looks in the upper right corner of your browser. Click on it.
  5. From the list, click Your Data Selfie.

Youll see theres not much to your Data Selfie yet. Just browse Facebook as you normally do. It takes about a week of regular Facebook use for your Data Selfie to gather enough information to give you a good idea of what Facebook might know about you.

Thanks! I hope you enjoy your Data Selfie.

Hang Do Thi Duc
Mozilla Fellow

PS. My Data Selfie says Im a laid-back, liberal man who isnt likely to have a gym membership and prefers style when buying clothes. Pretty accurate, actually.

The post Prepare to be Creeped Out appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

2. Latest Firefox available to users where they browse the web laptop, Fire TV and the office. Plus, a chance to help with the next Firefox release!., 13 [−]

This week, were happy to roll out not one, but three Firefox releases to our users. Now available in more of the places where they browse, Firefox users can access the web whether theyre relaxing at home with their laptop, in front of their TV with Amazon Fire TV, or at the office. Additionally, were running a contest (with prizes!) for users who want to help with the next Firefox Quantum release in May. So, without further ado, heres information on this weeks Firefox releases:

  • Latest Firefox Quantum release for Desktop

Today, March 13, the latest release of Firefox Quantum for desktop users is now available. Weve improved privacy for those who use Private Browsing mode. To learn more about the technical details on how that works, you can visit this blog post. And, we made changes under the hood where users may notice faster page load times. The latest version of Firefox Quantum is available for the Desktop and Mobile – iOS and Android.

  • Latest Firefox for Amazon Fire TV Available this Week

With this latest release, we’ve included a fresh new look to help you easily navigate the web on your Fire TV. No more typing in long URLs that you like to visit frequently. Users can now save their preferred websites by pinning them to the Firefox home screen. By using the menu button, you can easily remove any pinned websites at any time.

Add your favorite websites to Firefox on Fire TV

  • Firefox Quantum for Enterprise Available Wednesday in Beta

Starting on Wednesday, Firefox Quantum for Enterprise enters Beta, as a final step towards bringing a release version of Firefox Quantum to enterprise users. Needless to say, were all super excited to give millions of additional users an update to Firefox Quantum, as everyone deserves to have a super fast and well designed browser. To learn more about how were making it easier for IT professionals to install the new Firefox Quantum for their employees, visit our blog post and sign up for the beta of Firefox Quantum for Enterprise.

Want to help with the next Firefox Quantum release?

Did you know that back in 2008, Pocket won our Extend Firefox 3 contest? Were bringing back the tradition of Firefox Extensions contests with our first Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge this month! Whether youre a developer or someone who likes to create fun, cool things, like one-woman Firefox theme machine, MaDonna, were looking for the next generation of Extensions. Since the next release of Firefox Quantum supports new WebExtension APIs, were on the hunt for new Extensions to make our users browsing experience productive, fast, and fun. The winners will be crowned by the next Firefox Quantum release in May. For more details about the contest and prizes, visit our site today and the Hacks blog on Thursday, March 15.

And in related Extensions/Add-on news, were holding our annual March Add(on)ness. There are thousands of ways you can customize Firefox to make it your own web experience. So, were playing off the top Add-ons to find out who will walk away with the title as the must-have, must-install extension of our annual tournament. Learn more on the Firefox Frontier.

If you havent yet switched to the new Firefox Quantum browser, we invite you to download the latest version.

Release Notes for Firefox for Android

The post Latest Firefox available to users where they browse the web — laptop, Fire TV and the office. Plus, a chance to help with the next Firefox release! appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

3. Mozilla experiment aims to reduce bias in code reviews., 08 [−]

Mozilla is kicking off a new experiment for International Womens Day, looking at ways to make open source software projects friendlier to women and racial minorities. Its first target? The code review process.

The experiment has two parts: theres an effort to build an extension for Firefox that gives programmers a way to anonymize pull requests, so reviewers will see the code itself, but not necessarily the identity of the person who wrote it. The second part is gathering data about how sites like Bugzilla and GitHub work, to see how blind reviews might fit into established workflows.

The idea behind the experiment is a simple one: If the identity of a coder is shielded, theres less opportunity for unconscious gender or racial bias to creep into decision-making processes. Its similar to an experiment that began the 1970s, when U.S. symphonies began using blind auditions to hire musicians. Instead of hand-picking known proteges, juries listened to candidates playing behind a screen. That change gave women an edge: They were 50 percent more likely to make it past the first audition if their gender wasnt known. Over the decades, women gained ground, going from 10% representation in orchestras to 35 percent in the 1990s.

Mozilla is hoping to use a similar mechanism anonymity to make the code review process more egalitarian, especially in open source projects that rely on volunteers. Female programmers are underrepresented in the tech industry overall, and much less likely to participate in open source projects. Women account for 22 percent of computer programmers working in the U.S, but only 11 percent of them contribute to open source projects. A 2016 study of more than 50 GitHub repositories revealed that, in fact, womens pull requests were approved more often than their male counterparts nearly 3% more often. However, if their gender was known, female coders were .8% less likely to have their code accepted.

Whats going on? There are two possible answers. One is that people have an unconscious bias against women who write code. If thats the case, theres a test you can take to find out: Do I have trouble associating women with scientific and technical roles?

Then there is a darker interpretation: that men are acting deliberately to keep computer programming a boys club, rather than accepting high-quality input from women, racial minorities, transgender individuals, and economically underprivileged folks.

A Commitment to Diversity

What does it mean to be inclusive and welcoming to female software engineers? It means, first of all, taking stock of what kind of people we think will do the best job creating software.

When we talk about diversity and inclusion, it helps to understand the default persona that were dealing with, said Emma Humphries, an engineering program manager and bugmaster at Mozilla. We think of a typical software programmer as a white male with a college education and full-time job that affords him the opportunity to do open source work, either as a hobby or as part of a job that directly supports open source projects.

This default group comes with a lot of assumptions, Humphries said. They have access to high-bandwidth internet and computers that can run a compiler and development tools, as opposed to a smartphone or a Chromebook. When we talk about including people outside of this idealized group, we get pushback based on those assumptions, she said.

For decades, white men have dominated the ranks of software developers in the U.S. But thats starting to change. The question is, how can we deal with biases that have been years in the making?

Inventing a Solution

Mozillas Don Marti, a strategist for Mozillas Open Innovation group, decided to take on the challenge. Martis hypothesis was: If I dont know who requested the code review, then I wont have any preconceived notions about how good or bad the code might be. Marti recruited Tomislav Jovanovic, a ten-year veteran of Mozillas open source projects, to create a blinding mechanism for code repositories like GitHub. That way, reviewers cant see the gender, location, user name, icon, or avatar associated with a particular code submission.

Jovanovic was eager to contribute. I have been following tech industry diversity efforts for a long time, so the idea of using a browser extension to help with that seemed intriguing, he said. Even if we are explicitly trying to be fair, most of us still have some unconscious bias that may influence our reviews based on the author’s perceived gender, race, and/or authority.

Bias goes the other way as well, in that reviewers might be less critical of work by their peers and colleagues. Our mind often tricks us into skimming code submitted by known and trusted contributors, Jovanovic said. So hiding their identities can lead to more thorough reviews, and ultimately better code overall.

Test and Measure

An early prototype of a Firefox Quantum add-on can redact the identity of a review requestor on Bugzilla and the Pull Request author on GitHub. It also provides the ability to uncover that identity, if you prefer to get a first look at code without author info, then greet a new contributor or refer to a familiar contributor by name in your comments. Early users can also flag the final review as performed in blind mode, helping gather information about who is getting their code accepted and measuring how long the process takes.

Jovanovic is also gathering user input about what types of reviews could be blind by default and how to use a browser extension to streamline common workflows in GitHub. Its still early days, but so far, feedback on the tests has been overwhelmingly positive.

Having a tool that can protect coders, no matter who they are, is a great first step to building a meritocracy in a rough-and-tumble programmer culture. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases of harassment at companies like Google, GitHub, Facebook, and others. An even better step would be if companies, projects, and code repositories would adopt blind reviews as a mandatory part of their code review processes.

For folks who are committed to open source software development, the GitHub study was something of a downer. I thought open source was this great democratizing force in the world, said Larissa Shapiro, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Mozilla. But it does seem that there is a pervasive pattern of gender bias in tech, and its even worse in the open source culture.

Small Bias, Big Impact

Bias in any context adds up to a whole lot more than hurt feelings. There are far-reaching consequences to having gender and racial bias in peer reviews of code. For the programmers, completing software projects including review and approval of their code is the way to be productive and therefore valued. If a woman is not able to merge her code into a project for whatever reason, it imperils her job.

In the software world, code review is a primary tool that we use to communicate, to assign value to our work, and to establish the pecking order at work in our industry, Shapiro said.

Ironically, demand for programming talent is high and expected to go higher. Businesses need programmers to help them build new applications, create and deliver quality content, and offer novel ways to communicate and share experiences online. According to the group Women Who Code, companies could see a massive shortfall of technical talent just two years from now, with as many as a million jobs going unfilled. At 59% of the U.S. workforce, women could help with that shortfall. However, they make up just 30% of workers in the tech industry today, and are leaving it faster than any other sector. So were not really heading in the right direction, in terms of encouraging women and other underrepresented groups to take on technical roles.

Maybe a clever bit of browser code can start to turn the tide. At the very least, we should all be invested in making open source more open to all, and accept high-quality contributions, no matter who or where they come from. The upside is there: Eliminate bias. Build better communities. Cultivate talent. Get better code, and complete projects faster. Whats not to like about that?

You can sign up for an email alert when the final version of the Blind Reviews Experiment browser extension becomes available later this year, and we’ll ask for your feedback on how to make the extensions as efficient and effective as possible.

The post Mozilla experiment aims to reduce bias in code reviews appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

4. Setting the stage for our next chapter., 08 [−]

2017 was a great year for Mozilla. From new and revitalized product releases across our expanding portfolio to significant progress in advocating for and advancing the open web with new capabilities and approaches, to ramping up support for our allies in the broader community, to establishing new strategic partnerships with global search providers — we now have a much stronger foundation from which we can grow our impact in the world.

Building on this momentum, we are making two important changes to our leadership team to ensure were positioned for even greater impact in the years to come. Im pleased to announce that Denelle Dixon has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Mark Mayo has been promoted to Chief Product Officer.

As Chief Operating Officer, Denelle will be responsible for our overall operating business leading the strategic and operational teams that work across Mozilla to ensure we’re scaling our impact as a robust open source organization. Aligning these groups under Denelle’s leadership will ensure a holistic approach to business growth, development and operating efficiency by integrating the best of commercial and open innovation practices across all that we do.

As Chief Product Officer, Mark will oversee existing and new product development as we deepen and expand our product portfolio. In his new role, Mark will oversee Firefox, Pocket, and our Emerging Markets teams. Having all our product groups in one organization means we can more effectively execute against a single, clear vision and roadmap to ultimately give people more agency in every part of their connected lives.

Our mission is more important and urgent than ever, our goals are ambitious and Im confident that together we will achieve them.

The post Setting the stage for our next chapter appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

5. Dear Mick Mulvaney: Dont Let Equifax Off Easy., 28 .[−]

Today, Mozilla is delivering a petition signed by 27,000 Americans to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Today, Mozilla is visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, D.C. with 27,052 signatures and a loud message: Mick Mulvaney, dont let Equifax off easy.

Last years Equifax data breach was a seismic event: Tens of millions of Americans had their personal information from Social Security numbers to home addresses pilfered by hackers, exposing them to fraud and identity theft. Equifax customers in other countries, like the UK and Canada, were also affected.

Then, earlier this month, we learned the breach may have been worse than expected, with Americans tax IDs and drivers license numbers swept up in the hack, too.

This bad news broke just days after an astonishing development: The CFPB is not pursuing an investigation into the 2017 breach.

While the previous CFPB director had ordered a full investigation, the new head, Mick Mulvaney, hasnt taken any steps forward, like ordering subpoenas for Equifax executives.

Earlier this month, Mozilla launched a petition urging Mulvaney to move forward with the investigation. Today, the CFPB accepted our petition, and Mozilla delivered all 27,052 signatures to the bureaus headquarters in downtown D.C. Whats next: Mozilla will await a potential response from the bureau.

Says Marilia Monteiro, Mozilla Tech Policy Fellow and former Policy Manager at the Brazilian Ministry of Justices Consumer Office:

“Just like faulty brakes in a car or expired food, security breaches can have major effects on our lives. Data breaches don’t just expose consumers’ critical information they also expose a company’s failure to provide necessary safeguards essential to their service or products. Companies like Equifax must be held accountable. Not doing so sets a bad precedent, especially in countries where the biggest personal databases are government-managed and citizens lack consent. To truly give consumers control of their data, we must ensure the rules are always applied.”

Says Ashley Boyd, Mozillas VP of Advocacy:

At Mozilla, we believe individuals security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. Its a belief enshrined in our founding principles. The decision not to pursue a robust investigation into Equifax is a violation of that belief, and so Mozilla and tens of thousands of Americans are urging Mulvaney to change course.

Mozilla’s Jon Lloyd, right, delivers 27,000 signature to the CFPB

The post Dear Mick Mulvaney: Dont Let Equifax Off Easy appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

6. Mozilla v FCC: Mozilla Re-files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality., 22 .[−]

This morning, the Federal Communications Commission officially published its order overturning net neutrality rules in the Federal Register. We had originally filed suit early while simultaneously urging the court that the correct date was after this publication. We did this in an abundance of caution because were not taking any chances with an issue of this importance. That is why today, immediately after the order was published, Mozilla re-filed our suit challenging the FCC net neutrality order. We wont waste a minute in our fight to protect net neutrality because its our mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.

As weve said before, the FCCs decision to overturn the 2015 rules violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators. The decision does not simply roll back to an unregulated internet, instead, it removes affirmative protections for the public despite the fact that many people in the U.S. suffer from a lack of choice in broadband high speed internet access. To make matters worse, the FCC didnt adequately consider the impact such a removal would have on small businesses that rely on the open internet to sell their products and services and the free expression rights of internet users. In fact, the decision really only benefits large Internet Service Providers.

We will continue to work against the FCCs decision to destroy net neutrality in the courts, in Congress, and with our allies and internet users.

Want to help? You can call your elected officials and urge them to support net neutrality and an open internet. Net neutrality is not a partisan or U.S. issue and the decision to remove protections for net neutrality is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. We need politicians to decide to protect users and innovation online rather than increase the power of a few large ISPs.

The post Mozilla v FCC: Mozilla Re-files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

7. Snips Uses Rust to Build an Embedded Voice Assistant., 21 .[−]

The team at Paris-based Snips has created a voice assistant that can be embedded in a single device or used in a home network to control lights, thermostat, music, and more. You can build a home hub on a Raspberry Pi and ask it for a weather report, to play your favorite song, or to brew up a double espresso. Manufacturers like Keecker are adding Snips technology to products like multimedia home robots. And Snips works closely with leaders across the value chain, like NVIDIA, EBV, and Analog Devices, in order to voice-enable an increasingly wider range of device types, from speakers to home automation systems to cars.

Snips solution is different from other voice assistants, in that it runs its entire code base on a single device and can work without an Internet connection. Snips software stack includes its wake word (Hey Snips), application logic, speech recognition engine, and language understanding module.

By comparison, products like Amazon Echo and Google Home just run code for the wake word, and they are dependent on the cloud to process queries and generate responses. That approach opens the door for companies to potentially collect users speech data, raising privacy concerns.

How can Snips embed all the code for a voice assistant onto a single device? They wrote it using the Rust systems programming language.

Rust is a highly efficient programming language that was developed in an open source project and is sponsored by Mozilla. The first stable release of Rust was in May 2015. Now, the Rust community is seeing companies adopt Rust to build commercial software, often at the cutting edge of their fields.

Rust is compelling because it combines attributes from different kinds of languages, so it can offer high performance and low memory overhead as well as memory safety and cross-compilation to different platforms. That made it a great fit for Snips use case: embedding code into a range of device types with limited memory and processing power.

Why Rust?

Snips Principal Engineer Mathieu Poumeyrol had used Rust at a previous job, writing multi-platform code. Instead of having to write and then rewrite for each platform, he used Rusts cross-compilation capability. That let him write once and translate his code so it could run well on different machines, without days or weeks of hand-coding rework.

Poumeyrol pushed hard for Snips to consider adopting Rust. It had the traits Snips needed efficiency, portability, and safety and it had the performance characteristics to be able to run wicked fast, even on small devices.

“Snips was already using very modern languages for both mobile development and the back end, like Swift, Kotlin, and Scala, Poumeyrol said. That played a big part in convincing our engineers to try Rust.

After more investigation, the Snips technical team was convinced that Rust was the right way to go. We went all-in on Rust in 2016, said Snips CTO Joseph Dureau. And we are very happy with that decision.

Performance and Portability

The primary challenge for Snips engineering team was this: How can we embed a voice assistant so it runs efficiently and safely on all of our clients connected devices, regardless of the operating system and architecture they use?

Rust was the answer to that challenge. The language offered a combination of virtues: the performance of a low-level language like C/C++, the capability to port code to new platforms, and memory safety features designed to enhance security, even when code is running on connected devices that are relatively exposed. (See how crockpots were hacked in 2016.)

Performance: Rust code is fast and efficient. It can run on resource-constrained devices with no degradation in performance. The language manages zero-cost abstraction in the same spirit as C++, Poumeyrol said, while maintaining the same safety level as a language with garbage collection. Rust delivers high-level features without a runtime performance penalty, which was exactly what Snips needed.

Portability: Rusts first-class compiler, rustc, allows Snips engineers to write code once and port it to new devices. This is critical, because the company adds new device platforms to its solution every few weeks. Under the hood, rustc is implemented on top of LLVM, a solid, proven compiler framework. LLVM enables programmers to cross-compile code to most any modern hardware architecture, from mobile devices to desktops and servers.

We must be able to code once and run our code on many platforms in an optimal and secure way, Dureau said. Everything we write for the embedded voice assistant, we write in Rust.

Safety: Rust has a unique ownership model that makes its code, once compiled, safer than C/C++ and easier to maintain over time. The language uses concepts of ownership, moves, and borrows to keep track of memory resources and make sure they are being used appropriately.

Heres how Rusts memory safety features work. After programmers write new code, they run it through a compiler. The rustc compiler checks the code for errors. If it finds code that does not handle memory resources correctly, the compile step will not complete. That makes it more difficult to put memory-unsafe code into a production environment. The compiler helps in another way: It gives some feedback about the error alerts, and when possible, suggests fixes. This feedback saves a lot of time and lets new programmers learn by doing, with a lowered risk of introducing security vulnerabilities.

Poumeyrol is a fan of the Rust compiler. At compilation time, it can make sure the resource management is done correctly, so we have no surprises at runtime, he said.

One Fast Development Cycle

Working in Rust, the Snips technical team was able to complete its voice platform in record time: It took Snips less than a year to complete the coding work in Rust and put its voice assistant into production.

Memory safety played a large role in accelerating Snips development process. The developers could find and fix bugs using feedback from the Rust compiler. Those early corrections made the development cycle much shorter, because its simpler to fix bugs early, rather than waiting until runtime. It also speeded up the QA (quality assurance) phase of the process, so Snips was able to move new features into production more quickly.

Snips solution currently supports a dozen different device platforms, including the Raspberry Pi 3, DragonBoard, Sagemcom, Jetson TX2, IMX.8M, and others. Rust has made it simpler for the team to extend support to new boards, because they can reuse the same code base rather than writing custom implementations for each architecture.

Learning Rust

Today, all Snips embedded code is written in Rust. Over time, Poumeyrol has trained the embedded software engineers to code in Rust, as well as a significant number of the companys Machine Learning scientists. As they all got more familiar with the language, the teams go-to reference was the second edition of The Rust Programming Language Book, published online by the open source Rust Project.

The whole training process was fairly quick and organic, Poumeyrol said. The engineers he trained in turn shared their expertise with others, until the entire embedded software engineering team was actively learning the language.

Rust is a language of its time, Poumeyrol said. Once one has a taste for these modern languages, it can be very frustrating to come back to C or C++ when you suddenly need portability and efficiency.” Poumeyrol has seen broad adoption of Rust in the larger industry as well, as software engineers and machine learning scientists see it as a useful tool that can solve persistent coding problems.

The post Snips Uses Rust to Build an Embedded Voice Assistant appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

8. 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected., 20 .[−]

The National Science Foundation and Mozilla are supporting projects that keep the web accessible, decentralized, and resilient

Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S.

Today, were announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between.

What do all these projects have in common? Theyre affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.

Some 34 million Americans many of them located in rural communities and on tribal lands lack high-quality Internet access, says Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). By supporting ideas like the ones that have surfaced through the WINS challenges, Internet access could be expanded to potentially millions of Americans, enabling many social and economic opportunities that come with connectivity.

As the value of being connected to the Internet steadily increases, Americans without affordable access to the net are increasingly excluded from a world of social, educational, and economic possibility, adds Mozilla Fellow and WINS judge Steve Song. The 20 projects short-listed are evidence of the potential that now exists for thoughtful, committed citizens to build affordable, scalable, secure communication infrastructure wherever it is needed.

The 20 Stage 1 winners presented rigorously-researched design concepts and will receive between $10,000 and $60,000 each. Winners were selected by a panel of judges from organizations like Nokia, Columbia University, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Up next: All winning teams along with 90 other WINS submissions are now invited to build working prototypes as part of the second stage of the competition. In August, these finalists will provide live demonstrations of their prototypes at an event in Mountain View, CA. Final awards, ranging from $50,000 to $400,000, will be announced in the fall of 2018.


When disasters strike, communications networks are among the first pieces of critical infrastructure to overload or fail. These 10 creative ideas being recognized with design prizes leverage both the internets decentralized design and current wireless technology to keep people connected to each other and to vital messaging and mapping services in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters.

A schematic of Project Lantern | courtesy of Paper & Equator

[1] Project Lantern | First Place ($60,000) A Lantern is a keychain-sized device that hosts decentralized web apps with local maps, supply locations, and more. These apps are pushed to Lanterns via long-range radio and Wi-Fi, and then saved offline to browsers for continued use. Lanterns can be distributed by emergency responders and are accessed by citizens through a special-purpose Wi-Fi network supported by the Lanterns. Project by Paper & Equator in New York, NY in collaboration with the Shared Reality Lab at McGill University; learn more.

Hardware components for HERMES | courtesy of Rhizomatica

[2] HERMES | Second Place ($40,000) HERMES (High-frequency Emergency and Rural Multimedia Exchange System) is autonomous network infrastructure. It enables local calling, SMS, and basic OTT messaging, all via equipment that can fit inside two suitcases, using GSM, Software Defined Radio and High-Frequency radio technologies. Project by Rhizomatica.

[3] Emergency LTE | Third Place ($30,000) Emergency LTE is an open-source, solar- and battery-powered cellular base station that functions like an autonomous LTE network. The under-50-pound unit features a local web server with apps that allow emergency broadcasts, maps, messaging, and more. Project lead: Dr. Spencer Sevilla in Seattle, WA.

[4] The Next-Generation, Disaster Relief Mobile Phone Mesh Network | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project provides a phone-to-phone mesh network thats always on, even if all other systems are offline. A goTenna Mesh device unlocks connectivity using ISM radio bands, then pairs with Android and iOS phones to provide messaging and mapping, as well as back-haul connectivity when available. Project by goTenna in Brooklyn, NY; see the network map here & learn more.

[5] G.W.N. | Honorable Mention ($10,000) G.W.N. (Gridless Wireless Network) leverages ISM radio bands, Wi-Fi modules, and antennae to provide connectivity. When users connect to these durable 10-pound nodes, they can locate nearby shelters or alert emergency responders. Project lead: Dr. Alan Mickelson in Boulder, CO; learn more.

[6] Wind: Off-Grid Services for Everyday People | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Wind uses Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct, and physical infrastructure nodes built from common routers to create a peer-to-peer network. The project also features a decentralized software and content distribution system. By Guardian Project in New York; learn more.

[7] Baculus | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Baculus features a telescoping antennae/flag, a Wi-Fi access point, small computer, GPS transceiver, software defined radio, and battery, all housed inside a rolling backpack. The project provides applications like maps and message boards over an ad-hoc, self-repairing Wi-Fi network. Project Lead: Jonathan Dahan in New York; Design Lead: Ariel Cotton; learn more.

[8] Portable Cell Initiative | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project deploys a microcell, or temporary cell tower, in the aftermath of a disaster. The project uses software defined radio (SDR) and a satellite modem to enable voice calls, SMS, and data services. It also networks with nearby microcells. Project lead: Arpad Kovesdy in Los Angeles, CA; learn more.

[9] Othernet Relief Ecosystem | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Othernet Relief Ecosystem (O.R.E.) is an extension of Dhruvs Othernet installations in Brooklyn, NY. These installations stem from a long tradition of mesh networking wherein the OpenWRT firmware alongside the B.A.T.M.A.N. protocol run on Ubiquiti hardware to form large-scale local area networks. Each island of connectivity can be connected to each other using point-to-point antennas. A toolset of lightweight applications can live on these networks. Project lead: Dhruv Mehrotra in New York, NY; learn more.

[10] RAVE | Honorable Mention ($10,000) RAVE (Radio-Aware Voice Engine) a push-to-talk mobile application providing high-fidelity audio communication via a peer-to-peer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. Multiple RAVE devices form a multi-hop network capable of extending communication over longer distances. RAVEs range can be extended via a network of relay nodes. These inexpensive, battery-powered devices automatically set up a mesh network that extends real-time voice and internet access throughout a whole community, and text communication over several miles. Project by Throneless in Washington, D.C.; learn more.


Many communities across the U.S. lack reliable internet access. Sometimes commercial providers dont supply affordable access; sometimes a particular community is too isolated; sometimes the speed and quality of access is too slow. These 10 creative ideas being recognized with design prizes aim to leverage existing infrastructure physical or network to provide high-quality wireless connectivity to communities in need.

An EII installation | courtesy of the Detroit Community Technology Project

[11] Equitable Internet Initiative (EII) | First Place ($60,000) EII uses a system of relays to beam wireless broadband from a local ISP to vulnerable neighborhoods. The system includes solar-powered batteries, an intranet with apps, and training so local users can build and maintain the network. By the Detroit Community Technology Project, sponsored by Allied Media Projects in Detroit, MI; learn more.

[12] NoogaNet | Second Place ($40,000) NoogaNet provides wireless access within a defined neighborhood by leveraging utility pole-mounted Wi-Fi nodes, point-to-multipoint millimeter wave, and mesh technologies. The project also includes user training for installing, utilizing, and managing a wireless mesh node. Project by the Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, TN; learn more.

[13] Southern Connected Communities Network | Third Place ($30,000) This project entails a broadband tower and eventually, series of towers that can deliver 1-Gbps speeds wirelessly to anyone in a 25-mile radius via public spectrums. The towers will be controlled by community members in rural Appalachia and the South who are currently underserved by major ISPs. Project by the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, TN.

[14] Solar Mesh | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project integrates mesh Wi-Fi access points into solar-powered light poles in order to provide connectivity to low-income households. The bandwidth is provided by TMobile. Project by the San Antonio Housing Authority in TX.

[15] Connect the Unconnected | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Using a fixed wireless backbone network, this project provides public housing and homeless shelter residents in a two-square-mile radius with connectivity at speeds up to 35 Mb/s using point-to-point and point-to-multipoint millimeter wave technology. Residents also receive digital literacy training on refurbished devices that they are permitted to keep upon graduation. Project by DigitalC in Cleveland, OH.

[16] Repairable Community Cellular Networks | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project equips residents with sensors and software to carry out basic repairs and precautionary measures on OpenCellular base stations. The goal: decrease the likelihood and duration of service interruptions. Project by University of Washington in Seattle; learn more.

[17] People’s Open Network | Honorable Mention ($10,000) The People’s Open Network uses off-the-shelf multiband Wi-Fi hardware and custom open-source software to connect and automatically route internet traffic from apartment to apartment and house to house in a decentralized manner. Project by sudomesh in Oakland, CA; learn more.

[18] BarelasGig | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project uses modern millimeter wave (mmW) technology to provide wireless gigabit backhaul and last-mile connectivity at a fraction of the cost of full fiber deployment. Project lead: Michael Sanchez in Albuquerque, NM.

[19] NYC Mesh Community Network | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project uses high-bandwidth sector antennas, internet exchange points, mesh protocols, and solar batteries to create a community-owned, decentralized network. Project by NYC Mesh in New York City, NY; learn more.

[20] Telehub 2.0 - DuBois MAN | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project provides wireless connectivity to underserved neighborhoods and school districts through radio infrastructure mounted on light poles. The project also features educational-technology initiatives to improve academic performance. Project by W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center in Kansas City, MO; learn more.

The post 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

9. A Perspective: Firefox Quantums Tracking Protection Gives Users The Right To Be Curious., 14 .[−]

In the physical world, we dont wear our ID on our foreheads. This is convenient because we can walk around with a reasonable expectation of privacy and let our curiosity take us to interesting places. That shoe store you sauntered into because they had a pair that caught your eye has no idea who you are, where you live, or anything about you. More importantly, any attempt by that shoe store to have an employee follow you around would not only be impractical, but would be met with some serious side-eye from potential customers.

In the digital world, this isnt true. Useful web technologies that make the sites you visit convenient and powerful can also be co-opted to track you wherever you go. The same incredible economies of scale that allow billions of people worldwide to stay connected also allow for the implementation of inexpensive and powerful methods of tracking. The profits from the sale of one pair of shoes allows the online shoe store to track thousands of people in the hopes of turning them into customers.

You would notice a beleaguered shoe store employee following you around, but youre unlikely to notice most forms of online tracking. Weve all had the experience where ads magically seem to follow you around, in a practice known as retargeting, and its often unnerving for users. However, the reality is that online tracking is mostly invisible. Whats more is that its used to create a profile that ties together as much data as possible in a practice called cookie syncing in an effort to predict your habits and preferences, in the hopes that the ads and recommendations you get are more likely to trigger your behavior in a desirable way.

Sometimes, information about you can be helpful. For instance, finding out what the most popular accessories are for your new phone can help you make better decisions about what to buy. Of greater concern is the lack of consent. In the real world, we generally look before we leap, but on the Internet, theres no way to preview the tracking of a site before you click a link. Often without your knowledge, information about you and your visit is compiled into an online profile that can be shared and sold to others without your knowledge.

Whats true for shoes also applies to ideas. Another often overlooked inconvenience is how tracking impacts peoples ability to explore new areas of the web. Against the backdrop of growing online bubbles and polarized media, if all the content you get recommendations for is in the same line of thought, how much are you able to explore whats across the political line?

With 40% of US internet users saying they have recently used ad blockers, people clearly have an intuitive understanding that trackers and ads can be annoying, but do ad blockers do what they want?

Many in the tech world have been looking into this. When the companies providing the ad blocker are also the worlds biggest advertising networks, will it truly give you the tools to be inconspicuously curious?

Google Chromes approach is focused on annoying ads. Its ad blocker blocks ads, but it does nothing against invisible trackers or tracking ads that comply with the standards of the Better Ads Coalition, in which Facebook and Google are key partners. Even Apples Intelligent Tracking Protection has a set of rules that favor trackers operated by sites that users visit at least once a day. Unsurprisingly, Google and Facebook are the sites most likely to fall into this category.

If youre not using Firefox Quantum today and care about your privacy, I encourage you to give Firefox Quantum a try. With Tracking Protection turned on, youll get a web that lets you browse freely with fewer worries about pesky trackers, built by an independent organization that doesnt run an ad network.

The post A Perspective: Firefox Quantum’s Tracking Protection Gives Users The Right To Be Curious appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

10. Update: Mozilla Will Re-File Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality., 13 .[−]

Protecting net neutrality is core to the internet and crucial for peoples jobs and everyday lives. It is imperative that all internet traffic be treated equally, without discrimination against content or type of traffic thats the how the internet was built and what has made it one of the greatest inventions of all time.

What happened?

Last month, Mozilla filed a petition against the Federal Communications Commission for its disappointing decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order because we believe it violates federal law and harms internet users and innovators.

We said that we believed the filing date should be later (while the timing seemed clear in the December 2017 draft order from the FCC, federal law is more ambiguous). We urged the FCC to determine the later date was appropriate, but we filed on January 16 because we are not taking any chances with an issue of this importance.

On Friday, the FCC filed to dismiss this suit and require us to refile after the order has been published in the Federal Register, as we had anticipated.

Whats next?

We will always fight to protect the open internet and will continue to challenge the FCCs decision to destroy net neutrality in the courts, in Congress, and with our allies and internet users.

The FCCs decision to destroy net neutrality rules is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. It will end the internet as we know it, harm internet users and small businesses, erode free speech, competition, innovation and user choice in the process. In fact, it really only benefits large Internet Service Providers.

We will re-file our suit against the FCC at the appropriate time (10 days after the order is published in the Federal Register).

What can you do?

You can call your elected officials and urge them to support net neutrality and an open internet. Net neutrality is not a partisan or U.S. issue and the decision to remove protections for net neutrality is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. We need politicians to decide to protect users and innovation online rather than increase the power of a few large ISPs.

The post Update: Mozilla Will Re-File Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

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