Mozilla makeover to boost Tor torque, capacity

Privacy pundits launch Polaris project

Mozilla will tweak its flagship Firefox browser and host relays to speed up and boost the capacity of Tor under the Polaris project launched today.

The browser baron joined the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology, under the Polaris initiative, to create warmer, fuzzier relationships between the organisations to help build more privacy controls into kit.

Legal eagle Denelle Dixon-Thayer said the initiative will involve two projects and help keep participants accountable to privacy.

"Mozilla engineers are evaluating the Tor Project's changes to Firefox, to determine if changes to our own platform code base can enable Tor to work more quickly and easily," Dixon-Thayer said.

"Mozilla will also soon begin hosting our own high-capacity Tor middle relays to make Tor's network more responsive and allow Tor to serve more users.

"We recogniSe that privacy is not just a functionality on your computer or a setting you can turn on or off, and we're excited to see what we can do to advance privacy online with Polaris."

The company was also developing an "experiment" through it's nightly Firefox builds to establish a means to keep advertisers happy without invasive user tracking.

"[It examines] how we can offer a feature that protects those users that want to be free from invasive tracking without penalising advertisers and content sites that respect a user's preferences," Dixon-Thayer said.

She said the experiment was promising but not fully-fledged, and required more testing, refinement and user and advertisement feedback over coming months.

The Tor Project and Center for Democracy and Technology wrote statements expressing their enthusiasm for the initiative.

Mozilla also released a Harris Poll web survey finding that users felt their data was less private than a year ago. ®

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