Mozilla focuses on privacy as Firefox turns 10

A pre-installed search engine that doesn’t track user identity and online behaviour is among the technologies introduced by Mozilla to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its free and open source Web browser Firefox.

Mozilla said it is adding DuckDuckGo, to Firefox version 33.1 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. DuckDuckGo is a pre-installed search engine much like Google, Yahoo and Bing. However, while other companies track online behaviour to enhance search results, Mozilla said it is moving away from the practice.

“Search is an integral and deeply personal part of online life,” wrote Jonathan Nightingale, vice-president of Firefox in a blog on Monday. “The things you search for can say a lot about who you are. DuckDuckGo gives you search results without tracking who you are or what you search for.”

The company also added a Forget feature to Firefox that gives users an easier way to inform the software to clear out some of the user’s recent search activities.

“Instead of asking a lot of complex technical questions, Forget asks you only one: how much do you want to forget?” said Nightingale. For example users can set Forget to clear the last five minutes, two hours or 24 hours of online searches.

Firefox was first released Nov. 9, 2004 when Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer was the premier browser in the market. having stolen market share from Netscape, which went live in 1994.Firefox was credited for rejuvenating browser development. As of February this year, Firefox was estimated to hold 12  to 22 per cent of worldwide browser usage, making it the third most popular Web browser. Mozilla claims Firefox has 450 million users worldwide.

Google Chrome, released in 2008 is estimated to hold 45 per cent of worldwide usage share for browsers.IE, which was released in 1995, has an overall market share range from 27.4 per cent to 54.13 per cent as of October 2014.

Mozilla also introduced Polaris, a strategic initiative to partner with other organizations to enhance online privacy controls. The initiative will see the Mozilla community working with experts from the Centre for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the Tor Project, which works towards anonymity online.

Mozilla is also working on the beta version of an Interest Dashboard, a feature which Mozilla said is designed to help users analyze and categorize their interests.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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