The Firefox team is the latest to take the fight to the National Security Agency (NSA) and said it would not wilt to any pressure.
Brendan Eich, chief technology officer at the Mozilla Corporation, who is also in charge of running Firefox security team, stated last week that he wasn’t going to let the feds force his organization into handing over user data.
In order to ensure that no one injects undetected surveillance code into Firefox, the tech guru called on security researchers worldwide to establish a strong verification system at a global scale.
Referring to the gag order issued to pro-privacy e-mail service provider ‘Lavabit’ by The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to turn over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) keys that protect all private user information, Eich said he wasn’t going to let that happen to Mozilla.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to trust the privacy properties of software and services we rely on to use the Internet,” he wrote in a blog post on his official website.
“The government can legally access user data in ways that might violate the privacy expectations of law-abiding users. Worse, the government may force service operators to enable surveillance (something that seems to have happened in the Lavabit case).
Worst of all, the government can do all of this without users ever finding out about it, due to gag orders,” Eich explained.
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In October last year, Lavabit –the email service used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden – disclosed how the company was pressurized by the FBI to hand over their root SSL certificate – something that provides communication security and prevents hackers from breaking into users accounts.
Lavabit founder Ladar Levison also revealed that he faced jail if he refused to provide the FBI with the encryption keys.
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Eich stated the following recommendations to ensure snooping-free browsing on the internet.
· Regularly audit Mozilla source and verified builds by all effective means;
· Establish automated systems to verify official Mozilla builds from source; and
· Raise an alert if the verified bits differ from official bits.
“Through international collaboration of independent entities we can give users the confidence that Firefox cannot be subverted without the world noticing, and offer a browser that verifiably meets users’ privacy expectations,” Eich concluded.
Also, on February 11, a collection of popular sites and activist groups including popular tech companies such as Mozilla and Reddit will stage a mass protest against NSA’s warrantless spying.
Do you think these efforts to challenge the NSA will prove to be fruitful? You can share your thoughts in the comments section below.