Mozilla Takes Up Fight for Privacy Against the Feds

Mozilla firefox

May 20, 2016—Apple isn’t the only tech company fighting the Federal government in the name of consumer privacy.

In a piece I wrote recently for The Advocates for Self-Government, I explored the latest feud between an Internet service provider and the feds.

From the article:

“The fight ignited by Apple continues, as the feud between the tech industry and the US government warms up because Mozilla, the software company behind the popular browser Firefox, is now pressing the feds to disclose information pertaining to a potential security flaw.

Mozilla filed a motion with the US district court requesting information on potential Firefox vulnerabilities that could expose users and their data to major privacy infringement risks. The info was unearthed during a criminal investigation carried out by the FBI in which officials hacked into a Dark Web child pornography website in February 2015. During some time, the website was run by FBI officers from inside of a government facility in Virginia. But once the investigation was finalized, vulnerabilities that allowed for this hack were kept secret.

According to Mozilla, if the issues unearthed aren’t addressed by the tech companies, users’ privacy could be under attack. Since the Tor Browser is ‘built on the same base code as the open-source Firefox browser,’ Mozilla believes the vulnerabilities should be shared with the group.

In Mozilla’s motion, the group claims that the government has ‘refused to tell Mozilla whether the vulnerability at issue in this case involves a Mozilla product,’ prompting the company to inquire further in order to protect its users.

The fact the government used an exploit that hasn’t been unveiled makes government officials more likely to use the same artifice to ‘compromise users and systems running the browser,’ a reality Mozilla seems to refuse to accept. According to Mozilla Corporation’s chief legal and business officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer, even the ‘judge in this case ordered the government to disclose the vulnerability to the defense team but not to any of the entities that could actually fix the vulnerability.’ To the company, the judge’s decision makes no sense ‘because it doesn’t allow the vulnerability to be fixed before it is more widely disclosed.'”

Unfortunately for privacy, once the FBI expressed its decision to refuse to comply with the judge’s orders, Judge Robert J. Bryan reconsidered his ruling, essentially allowing the FBI to keep the information from the defense team.

The question I’ve asked readers at The Advocates is the same I ask you: Why is the FBI so invested in keeping information on data security risks from those who work to protect us from third party attacks?

Does the FBI have something to hide? Sound off below!

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