Privacy Features in Firefox 3.5

While talking to press in North America and Europe about Firefox 3.5 (you’re already running it, right?) one topic that really resonated with people was the way we pushed on privacy in this release.

I think, initially, some people viewed our private browsing mode as a checklist feature. Even though we’d been working on it since before Firefox 3, it wasn’t strong enough for us to ship until 3.5 and in the interim other browsers have implemented versions of the same functionality. I really like the way we’ve done it, and there seem to be significant differences between the various browsers’ implementations, but regardless of all that I also don’t think that any private browsing mode is a complete solution.

Private browsing mode assumes that you will always know ahead of time that you’re about to do privacy-sensitive things. In Firefox 3.5, we tried to match more closely the way people actually use the browser, and sometimes that means they need to clean up after the fact – forgetting a slice of time, or a particular site. It also means that sometimes they want their browser to remember things, sensitive bookmarks for example, but not publicize those in the location bar. People’s use of a web browser in 2009 is more nuanced than:

Public Private

Alex Faaborg has done a fantastic job detailing many of the privacy features in the latest release of Firefox. I’d encourage you all to check it out.

2 comments

  1. Yes, the “forget about this site” option and the clear recent data options are very good (I’m particular fond of the former), but the private browsing mode is currently a non-starter compared to how it’s done in Google Chrome.

    If you’ve got 30 tabs open, they all vanish whilst you’re in private mode. That’s just a completely unworkable solution. The visual difference in branding in Chrome when you’re in private mode is also pretty important, especially for less technical users.

    It’s a good step, and the “forget about this site” is better than what’s in Chrome, but the private mode is needs significant improvement.

  2. Hi, I know it’s probably not the best place to write, but could you please update MitM Me (SSL Error Bypass), so it canwork on firefox 3.5?
    Thanks!