Firefox flavour focussed on safety? For "Fox Cubs"?

Hi everyone,

One of the reasons I’ve got engaged with Mozilla recently - a step up from being an enthusiastic user of Firefox - is that I’ve become more concerned about internet privacy and safety for my children (it’s too late for me, my data is everywhere already!).

Firefox Focus is a very good initiative. It made me wonder if a similar initiative and product existed (or could be produced) to focus on safe web and internet use for children. Many children now use computers at home and school and they rely on proprietary, closed, solutions for ensuring their safety. To me it seems this seems a natural fit for the Mozilla ethos.

If something already exists from Mozilla, then great! If not then is this a useful direction for Mozilla? Perhaps a specialised browser, in the same vein as Focus, targeted at safe use of the internet? Children love animals, this is why “Fox Cubs” came to mind as a name this idea.

Let me know your thoughts. (and if necessary, mods, please move this to the correct sub-forum, thanks).

Cheers, :slight_smile:



I like this idea, and I think it could work either as a browser, an initiative or a combination of the two.

I want to not like this as it is really not my kind of thing, but I cannot see any reason to…! It does make sense, and should not be too difficult to do.

Just need to find the right people to help take this forward…

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What exactly do you mean by “safety”? Not going to shady sites?

If so, I fear that coming up with a semi-reliable way to differentiate shady from non-shady sites looks really quite complicated, plus might attract lots of bad publicity on the project.

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Thanks for your feedback.

By safety I mean, basically, not going to “shady” sites. But it’s more than that, because the internet is more than the web and, although Mozilla is about the open web, Firefox actually enables access to much more of the internet than just the web. And it’s not just about how sites may passively influence children but more about how people, using the internet, may actively try to abuse children.

Locking out certain websites is too coarse grain an approach, because many perfectly normal websites might contain content which is inappropriate for children of different ages. Also, this approach is actually censorship/walled gardens and I think the opposite of the Mozilla ethos.

The definition of “inappropriate” is also very subjective and almost everyone has a different opinion.

So my thinking is to look at it a different way. Traditional “safe” browsing focuses mainly on preventing children accessing what adults consider to be inappropriate content. This tries to be a parallel to parenting in general, where parents may stop children watching certain TV programmes or films, read certain magazines, not take them to certain parts of town, etc.

But the other aspect of making children safe is actively protecting them from people who have malicious intent. This is the part I wonder if Mozilla can take come initiative on, in an open, non-proprietary way.

And FYI, I have no idea how to do this and I’m also very unaware of what other initiatives may already be ongoing :smile: At the moment I’m just thinking out loud.

Will :slight_smile:

Hi again everyone,

Private discussion has helped me narrow this down to something that could be technically implemented into Firefox, Focus or maybe even as something standalone.

What originally made me think about this:

  1. Firefox Focus - protecting our privacy, also goes a long way to protecting children (and, let’s be honest, our parents / grandparents / other non-tech-savvy vulnerable people!) from their ignorance of what/who they’re interacting with on the web and what information they’re giving away.

Sometimes we legitimately want / need to give away information, e.g. when signing up for something most websites unnecessarily ask for date of birth rather than just if we’re over / under a certain age. Often these things ask for much more personal information than they need - Firefox could flag this up. It’s an optional feature, not everyone will want / like it. But it could still help many people - children included.

2: There are malicious people using the internet to take advantage of others. Firefox already includes lots of tools to prevent users accessing vulnerable sites, protecting us against technical risks. However, there’s also a lot of social engineering used to take advantage of people too. Email clients already use spam filters to try and remove a lot of this.

But does Firefox do anything? Social engineering on the web can encourage people to hand over lots of personal information that they may not otherwise do. And we all know how susceptible children are to advertising.

1+2 = 3. Children may willingly hand over personal information to websites in the hope of getting something they covet in return, e.g. games console from a competition. They may give their name, date of birth and email address, sometimes even phone number, home address and gender. This can be used by a malicious individual to target them to take advantage of them.

Firefox could help them protect themselves by helping to identify social engineering scams. Or more simply, it could be a feature that warns the user they are about to hand over personal information and asks if they really want to do this.

I’m starting to get out of my depth now as far as all these things go - I’m not an expert in the technology nor the risks.

Cheers :slight_smile:

Perhaps there could be a parental control test pilot add-on, that allows for a domain/site blocklist, and overall allowed time browsing per day.

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So if test pilot is installed is it enabled for every user of a computer? I don’t have any children of the age where they uise a computer yet - I’m thinking ahead to when they do!

Aren’t there already lots of add-ons that block sites?

Controlling internet use per day is interesting, but wouldn’t parents want it to be a limit on how long the computer was used, not just internet.

To me the real issue is still protecting vulnerable people from their own ignorance - giving away information they shouldn’t. Maybe test-pilot could be used for this?

Try this add-on:

For YouTube:

and for school:


Thanks for the suggestions. These are just content blockers though aren’t they? As I said in previous posts, I don’t think walled gardens are in the Mozilla spirit.

In summary, my suggestion is something that warns users when they are about to share personal information, e.g. name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, etc.

Coming back two years later, I may have an idea :slight_smile:

What about a co-browsing add-on?

Link to instances of Firefox, on two different computers. Whenever the first one goes to a new website, the other one has the opportunity to say “no”. If the answer is “yes”, the website is added to a whitelist, otherwise it is added to a blacklist. The controlling Firefox can edit the lists at any time.

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Hi @yoric,

I think that’s quite a cool idea. It doesn’t cover everything I had in mind but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The only issue could be if this “approval” would need to be done in real-time, and if the parent is unavailable then the child doesn’t get to do any browsing.

I still think that an add-on, or feature of Firefox, which warned the user whenever things which look like personal data are entered into web forms could be useful. Or, perhaps this could be an extension of Firefox Lockbox, so as well as usernames and passwords it could remember all other information given to the website, so that if in future we need to know what we told that website Lockbox will give us a record.

And if anything can be done to help an ignorant or naive user identify a social engineering threat then that would be great! I can’t think where to start with that though.

Cheers :slight_smile: