First Private Browsing extension

I did expect the community to get interested in extending the Private Browsing mode by developing extensions, but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon!  I’m happy to announce that the first Private Browsing extension has been developed by the community member Kurt Schultz! This extension adds a toolbar and a status bar button to Firefox for quick access to the Private Browsing feature, and lets you toggle a few of the underlying preferences as a bonus!  Grab it while it’s hot from AMO!

Here’s a screenshot provided by Kurt:

Toggle Private Browsing extension in action

Thanks for the great work, Kurt!

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15 comments on “First Private Browsing extension
  1. This is something which is easy to do as an extension. Of course, smart children may be able to disable the extension which does this, but then again they could figure out how to clear their history using other means as well.

  2. Mauri says:

    Is there a way to prevent my children from using Private Browsing?
    I need to keep an eye on them.
    Thanks

  3. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    This is something which is easy to do as an extension.  Of course, smart children may be able to disable the extension which does this, but then again they could figure out how to clear their history using other means as well.

    If someone wants to step up and write an extension to do this, I’d be glad to help.

  4. Visitor says:

    thank you.
    Nice tips from Kurt :)

  5. wtp says:

    I’m the only one using MY computer (aside from lending it to Seti@Home when I’m not) so I am not afraid of what I might find out about what I’ve been doing.

    I am horrified and sickened that one of the first comments is from a parent wishing to turn this feature off in 3.1 so s/he can monitor childrens’ activities. Talk to your kids, instill personal moral values if you most, rather than guiding them i building their own, talk to them about what they saw on the ‘net today, and warn them about the sad fact that not all people are good and honest, and why not to tell the world all about themselves. But don’t play Big Brother if you *ever* want their respect.

    You see, the thing that really worries me about the ‘net is, with increasing commercialization, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – and every time we use a ‘free’ service, from Google, to the download from most commercial or semi-commercial sites where a programmer’s free software is posted, to ‘free’ simple games one can usually get really inexpensively and which do NOT require high-speed Internet connections … YOU PAY DEARLY.

    You PAY by divulging PERSONAL information: Look up a subject, and Google or Yahoo or Ask or most, if not all, of the other search engines match the numbers etched into your machine’s networking port, the name of your browser, and the place you are connecting from with a big list containing every search you have made before. Same thing if you download a program. Your interest is added to your electronic file.

    The companies tell you that this is not “personal” information, because it does not contain your name or address or phone number. Only a simple lookup comparing this information with companies you do business with, telephone directories, and public records from driver’s license, real estate owners’ lists, voter registration lists and campaign finance reports, birth, death, marriage and divorce decisions, court actions from traffic tickets on up; mixed with huge “credit-worthiness” reports and other data bases commercially available, and all the info you place on “social networking” sites can all be combined to form a pretty good portrait of WHO you are.

    A half-dozen or so companies, led by Google, provide “free software” to even the smallest web sites, used because the site builder can find out what kinds of people from where are attracted there, and what changes bring more.

    Of course a complete, or even more-complete list of information on who goes where goes to Google’s “evil twin”, the advertising company called Double-click, or the half-dozen other data suppliers out there. And even if they sell data missing your name, the buyers can pull it all together into the lists that mean if you go to car sites, you will get everything from snail mail to spam to phone calls offering you better car deals. Poke around for infant supplies, and every local diaper service, maternity clothing botique, day-care center will be doing the same.

    And you will be wondering how they knew.

    To reappy protect privacy, what we need is something that distorts outgoing mac/nic/ tracking cookie or ‘supercookie’ available to the listmakers until they are snowed in by distorted trash. Maybe a random-bot, that looks up and spends time visiting hundreds of web sites a day while you are not using your computer, searching out titles at bookstores you would never buy, music you cannot stand, political parties of every stripe. Tie that to a cookie distorter, and something that blocks every bit of third-party information gathering possible, and automatically sends out a letter (from an outgoing-only account set up for the purpose) demanding companies using third-party tracking companies stop, or risk losing your patronage.

    The problem is that we have been almost conditioned into not only accepting, but desiring this kind of spying – the phony emphasis on terrorism that has led us to give up many rights, and think nothing of police carrying machine guns on their backs and video cameras pointed at the crowds, “security” or “traffic” cameras covering every moment from when we step out the door in some major cities, warantless searches and laws protecting telephone and internet service providers handing over lists of customers and their associated numbers to law enforcement officers who have no legitimate reason to have them …

    Some people even “love the personal attention” they get from everything from “suggested titles” from Amazon. which needlessly and dangerously keeps a list of books that you have ordered before, to the world’s most secure buildings – casinos. I walked into an Atlantic City casino one day, a reporter early for an appointment with management. I was warmly greeted (and photographed) as I walked in the door, along with every other member of the crowd. I asked a random floor-person where I could get a cup of coffee, maybe some breakfast, and was directed to one of a dozen foot spots. Fifteen minutes later, someone I had never seen before asked me if I got my coffee, and, if I did, how it was. A lot of folks think this ‘service’ is wonderful. It scared the hell out of me – realizing (since I had not used my name, or been in this establishment before) that EVERYONE was being watched – with the intensity generally reserved for dangerous prisoners at their trials.

    Yes, what we need are not only scramblers, but Winston Smith’s hatred of Big Brother, helped by real Emanuel Goldsteins writing code to thwart the data collectors.

    The keeper of this website does not (according to the monitors I have in place) use tracking tools. But he does ask for the web addresses of posters, and probably checks uo on them as well, before allowing a post to appear. My ISP pays an extra fee to name registers every year so that anyone asking about “razler.net” is directed to Network Associates Inc. and not anyone connected with the actual site.

    Every little bit of freedom costs these days. And that’s Plain Wrong.

  6. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    Anonymity and privacy protection against websites is not what the Private Browsing feature is Firefox is about; that falls into the scope of projects such as the Tor project.  I see your concerns, and I suggest you look into this and other similar projects which may be able to provide you with tools to address these concerns to a certain extent.

    And like you have noticed, I do not use tracking code in my website, and I don’t read comments before allowing them to appear.  I delete some of the comments after they’re written (they’re spam content trying to place links to unrelated services on this website), but I’m not quite sure about the extent of your "Big Brother" concerns with this website.  And I don’t exactly share your opinion about privacy concerns, and I have experienced freedom in a way which doesn’t have such costs.

  7. wtp says:

    I notised the author has also created a language pack for the language spoken by most Iranians.
    Now an Iranian friend in university told me the Iranians (most ethnically Persians, not Arabs, mostly Muslims) spoke a non-Semitic* language, the only one used in the Middle East, called Farsi, not Persian. Please let me know if I’m wrong.

    (The Semitic language group includes [still spoken] Hebrew, Arabic, Syrian Aramaic, and probably a half-dozen others I have left out due to ignorance)

  8. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    The language we speak in Iran is called Persian in English, but native speakers call it "Farsi".  Now, the language name is written as "Farsi" in English as well, but that is done mostly by Iranians who transcript what they pronounce into English alphabet.  You can see this wikipedia article which describes the nomenclature extensively.

  9. Visitor says:

    Wow, that is awesome!!! Thanks a lot for creating this Ubiquity command.

  10. Livio says:

    Honestly, Stealther seems a better choice. Looks better and makes better private feeling. At least I think so.

  11. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    We would like to know if there are any specific issues that you’re having with the Private Browsing mode, so that we can consider improving it.  Your feedback is much appreciated!

  12. [...] This extension adds a toolbar and a status bar button to Firefox for quick access to the Private Browsing feature , and lets you toggle a few of the underlying preferences as a bonus! Grab it while it’s hot from AMO! … Original post [...]

  13. [...] man einen Account auf der Erweiterungsseite haben (da es eine experimentelle Erweiterung ist). [via] Diesen Beitrag in deinem Lieblingsbookmarkdienst speichern: These icons link to social [...]

  14. Shameless plug: There’s also a Ubiquity command for private browsing too: http://theunfocused.net/2008/11/12/private-browsing-command-for-ubiquity/

  15. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    Wow, that is awesome!!!  Thanks a lot for creating this Ubiquity command.