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Questions About .org

di, 03/12/2019 - 15:01

Last month, the Internet Society (ISOC) announced plans to sell the Public Interest Registry (PIR) — the organization that manages all the dot org domain names in the world — to a private equity firm named Ethos. This caught the attention of Mozilla and other public benefit orgs.

Many have called for the deal to be stopped. It’s not clear that this kind of sale is inherently bad. It is possible that with the right safeguards a private company could act as a good steward of the dot org ecosystem. However, it is clear that the stakes are high — and that anyone with the power to do so should urgently step in to slow things down and ask some hard questions.

For example: Is this deal a good thing for orgs that use these domains? Is it structured to ensure that dot org will retain its unique character as a home for non-commercial organizations online? What accountability measures will be put in place?

In a letter to ISOC, the EFF and others summarize why the stakes are high. Whoever runs the dot org registry has the power to: set (and raise) prices; define rights protection rules; and suspend or take down domains that are unlawful, a standard that varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is critical that whoever runs the dot org registry is a reliable steward who can be held accountable for exercising these powers fairly and effectively.

ISOC and Ethos put up a site last week called keypointsabout.org which argues that the newly privatized PIR will be just such a steward. Measures outlined on the site include the creation of a stewardship council, price caps, and the incorporation of the new PIR as a B Corp. These sound like good plans at first read, but they need much more scrutiny and detail given what is at stake.

ICANN and the ISOC board are both in a position to slow things down and offer greater scrutiny and public transparency. We urge them to step back and provide public answers to questions of interest to the public and the millions of orgs that have made dot org their home online for the last 15 years. Specific questions should include:

  1. Are the stewardship measures proposed for the new PIR sufficient to protect the interests of the dot org community? What is missing?
  2. What level of scope, authority and independence will the proposed Stewardship Council possess? Will dot org stakeholders have opportunities to weigh in on the selection of the Council and development of its bylaws and its relationship to PIR and Ethos?
  3. What assurances can the dot org community have that Ethos and PIR will keep their promises regarding price increases? Will there be any remedy if these promises are not kept?
  4. What mechanisms does PIR currently have in place to implement measures to protect free speech and other rights of domain holders under its revised contract, and will those mechanisms change in any way with the transfer of ownership and control? In particular, how will PIR handle requests from government actors?
  5. When is the planned incorporation of PIR as a B corp? Are there any repercussions for Ethos and/or PIR if this incorporation does not take place?
  6. What guarantees are in place to retain the unique character of the dot org as a home for non-commercial organizations, one of the important stewardship promises made by PIR when it was granted the registry?
  7. Did ISOC receive multiple bids for PIR? If yes, what criteria in addition to price were used to review the bids? Were the ICANN criteria originally applied to dot org bidders in 2002 considered? If no, would ISOC consider other bids should the current proposal be rejected?
  8. How long has Ethos committed to stay invested in PIR? Are there measures in place to ensure continued commitment to the answers above in the event of a resale?
  9. What changes to ICANN’s agreement with PIR should be made to ensure that dot org is maintained in a manner that serves the public interest, and that ICANN has recourse to act swiftly if it is not?

In terms of process, ICANN needs to approve or reject the transfer of control over the dot org contract. And, presumably, the ISOC board has the power to go back and ask further questions about the deal before it is finalized. We urge these groups to step up to ask questions like the ones above — and not finalize the deal until they and a broad cross section of the dot org community are satisfied with the answers. As they address these questions, we urge them to post their answers publicly.

Also, the state attorneys general of the relevant jurisdictions may be in a position to ask questions about the conversion of PIR into a for profit or about whether ISOCs sale of PIR represents fair market value. If they feel these questions are in their purview, we urge them to share the results of their findings publicly.

One of Mozilla’s principles is the idea that “a balance between commercial profit and public benefit is critical” to maintaining a healthy internet. Yes, much of the internet is and should be commercial — but it is important that significant parts of the internet also remain dedicated to the public interest. The current dot org ecosystem is clearly one of these parts.

The organization that maintains the underpinnings of this ecosystem needs to be a fair and responsible steward. One way to ensure this is to entrust this role to a publicly accountable non-profit, as ICANN did when it picked ISOC as a steward in 2002. While it’s also possible that a for-profit company could effectively play this stewardship role, extra steps would need to be taken to ensure that the company is accountable to dot org stakeholders and not just investors, now and for the long run. It is urgent that we take such steps if the sale of PIR is to go through.

A small postscript: We have sent a letter to ICANN encouraging them to ask the questions above.

The post Questions About .org appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

News from Firefox on Mobile, Private Network and Desktop

di, 03/12/2019 - 15:00

As the year comes to a close, we look back at what we’ve accomplished. As recently noted in the press, this year may be the mark of our privacy-renaissance. We’ve built additional privacy protections in the browser which included blocking third party tracking cookies and cryptomining by default and created an easy-to-view report which shows the trackers that follow you and collect your online browsing habits and interests. To date, we’ve blocked more than 1 Trillion tracking requests that attempt to follow you around the web! Privacy has always been part of our DNA. We’ve always believed our role is and has always been to help give people more control over their online lives.

1 Trillion tracking requests have been blocked with Enhanced Tracking Protection

Today, we’ve got something for everyone, for tech savvy folks who want to test-drive privacy-first features and products or those who love to multitask while on their desktop. We have a lot in store for the next year, and will continue to uphold our promise to create privacy-focused products and features. Before we roll anything out widely to consumers, we’ve still got some fine-tuning to do. So today we’re kicking off the next phase in our ongoing testing of our Firefox Private Network Beta, and the latest Firefox Preview app for Android powered by GeckoView. Although the year might be winding down, just like Santa’s elves, we’re working around the clock to deliver experiments and the latest versions of our Firefox browser for desktop and iOS.

Latest Firefox Private Network Beta test protects users just in time for the holidays

In September, we introduced the beta release of our Firefox Private Network (FPN), an extension which provides a secure, encrypted path to the web to protect your connection and personal information when you use the Firefox browser. Since then, we’ve received feedback from our beta testers on how they’re using FPN, its protections, and we learned about websites that weren’t compatible as well as connection issues. This allowed us to quickly identify and fix bugs, and ensure a stable product.

As we continue our beta testing, we are considering various ways to bring additional privacy protections to our users. Today we’re announcing an additional beta test for US-based Firefox account users who didn’t get a chance to get in the initial group, and are interested in testing FPN.

In the next phase of our beta, we are offering a limited-time free service that lets you encrypt your Firefox connections for up to 12 hours a month. With the holidays around the corner, the FPN couldn’t come at a more convenient time. We know people are traveling and might have to rely on an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, like the one at the airport, at your local coffee shop, or even at your doctor’s office. FPN provides encrypted internet traffic thus giving you peace of mind whenever you’re using our browser.

This limited-time free service is currently available in the US on the Firefox desktop browser and you’ll need a Firefox account to try the service. You can sign up directly from the extension which can be found here.

For those looking to extend their protection beyond the browser, you can now sign up to be one of the first to experience the newest member of the FPN family. This month, Firefox account holders can request invitations to experience device-level protection with our new full-device VPN (virtual private network). Join the waitlist and if you’re eligible, we’ll follow up with a link to access the VPN at an introductory price of $4.99 per month. Currently the VPN will be available for Windows 10 only, and like the rest of the FPN, it is only available to US-based Firefox account holders. Pricing and platform availability will continue to evolve and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

Attention mobile beta testers: Firefox Preview Beta release now available

This past summer we introduced Firefox Preview Beta, a publicly available test version of our Firefox browser for Android powered by GeckoView, Mozilla’s own high-performance mobile browser engine. It allows us to deliver a better, faster and more private online experience for Android users. Today, we have an update on our progress, including new features we’ve added since its initial beta release in June. To learn more visit the announcement here.

Picture-in-Picture available in today’s Firefox browser release

Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of multi-tasking whether it’s checking email in a meeting or online shopping and watching product videos before we press the buy button. We all have busy lives and want to get the most out of every minute. In today’s Firefox release we’re rolling out Picture-in-Picture available in all video sites.

Picture-in-Picture allows a video to be contained in a separate and small window, and still be viewable whether you switch from tab-to-tab or outside the Firefox browser. To see if Picture-in-Picture is available to you, hover your mouse over the video to see a small blue “Picture in Picture” option. Once you click the option, the video will pop into its own and will always stay as the top window, allowing you to continue to watch the video even if you switch tabs. Currently, Picture-in-Picture will only be available on Windows OS. It will be available to MacOS and Linux in our next browser release in January 2020.

Hover your mouse over the video to see a small blue “Picture in Picture” option

To see what else is new or what we’ve changed in today’s desktop and iOS release, you can check out our release notes.

Check out and download the latest version of Firefox available here.

 

The post News from Firefox on Mobile, Private Network and Desktop appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Mozilla and the Contract for the Web

do, 28/11/2019 - 21:42

Mozilla supports the Contract for the Web and the vision of the world it seeks to create. We participated in helping develop the content of the principles in the Contract. The result is language very much aligned with Mozilla, and including words that in many cases echo our Manifesto. Mozilla works to build momentum behind these ideas, as well as building products and programs that help make them real.

At the same time, we would like to see a clear method for accountability as part of the signatory process, particularly since some of the big tech platforms are high profile signatories. This gives more power to the commitment made by signatories to uphold the Contract about privacy, trust and ensuring the web supports the best in humanity.

We decided not to sign the Contract but would consider doing so if stronger accountability measures are added. In the meantime, we continue Mozilla’s work, which remains strongly aligned with the substance of the Contract.

The post Mozilla and the Contract for the Web appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Mozilla and BMZ Announce Cooperation to Open Up Voice Technology for African Languages

ma, 25/11/2019 - 09:11

Mozilla and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to jointly build new alliance to foster open voice data and technology in Africa and beyond

Berlin – 25 November 2019. Today, Mozilla and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) have announced to join forces in the collection of open speech data in local languages, as well as the development of local innovation ecosystems for voice-enabled products and technologies. The initiative builds on the pilot project, which our Open Innovation team and the Machine Learning Group started together with the organization “Digital Umuganda” earlier this year. The Rwandan start-up collects language data in Kinyarwanda, an African language spoken by over 12 million people. Further languages in Africa and Asia are going to be added.

Kelly Davis, Head of Mozilla’s Machine Learning Group, explaining the design and technology behind Deep Speech and Common Voice at a Hackathon in Kigali

Kelly Davis, Head of Mozilla’s Machine Learning Group, explaining the design and technology behind Deep Speech and Common Voice at a Hackathon in Kigali, February 2019.

Mozilla’s projects Common Voice and Deep Speech will be the heart of the joint initiative, which aims at collecting diverse voice data and opening up a common, public database. Mozilla and the BMZ are planning to partner and collaborate with African start-ups, which need respective training data in order to develop locally suitable, voice-enabled products or technologies that are relevant to their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mozilla and the BMZ are also inviting like-minded companies and identifying further countries interested in joining their efforts to open up language data.

The German Ministry and Mozilla share a similar vision and work towards the responsible use of automated decision-making and artificial intelligence for sustainable development on scale. Supporting partner countries in reaching the SDGs, today, the BMZ is carrying out more than 470 digitally enhanced projects in over 90 countries around the world. As part of the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, the Federal German Government has agreed to support developing countries in building up capacities and knowledge on opportunities and challenges of AI – an area of expertise that the Mozilla Foundation has heavily invested in with their work on trustworthy AI.

“Artificial Intelligence is changing and shaping our societies globally. It is critical that these technologies are both trustworthy and truly serve everyone. And that means they need to be developed with local needs and expertise in mind, diverse, decentralized, and not driven by monopolies,” says Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation.

“Innovating in AI poses complex technological, regulatory and ethical challenges. This is why I am very pleased to see multiple teams within Mozilla working together in this promising cooperation with the BMZ, building on our shared visions and objectives for a positive digital future,” adds Katharina Borchert, Chief Open Innovation Officer of the Mozilla Corporation.

The cooperation was announced at Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin and will be part of the BMZ initiative “Artificial Intelligence for All: FAIR FORWARD”. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed at Mozilla’s headquarters in Mountain View on November 14.

Representatives of the BMz and Mozilla signing the Memorandom of Understanding

From left to right: Björn Richter, Head of Digital Development Sector Program, GIZ, Dr. Andreas Foerster, Head of Division Digital Technologies in Development Cooperation, BMZ, Katharina Borchert, Chief Open Innovation Officer, Mozilla, Ashley Boyd, VP, Advocacy Mozilla Foundation, and Udbhav Tiwari, Public Policy Advisor, Mozilla

Mozilla believes that the internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible for all people, no matter where they are and which language they speak. With projects such as Common Voice and Deep Speech, Mozilla’s Machine Learning Group is working on advancing and democratizing voice recognition technology on the web.

Useful Links:

The post Mozilla and BMZ Announce Cooperation to Open Up Voice Technology for African Languages appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet