Everyone should be concerned about how much private information they have knowingly or unknowingly handed over to Google and other tech giants. One of the most effective ways for Google to get your private data is by sponging it up with Chrome. There are a few ‘privacy browsers’ now available for mobile if you want to get out from under Google’s watchful eye. One of these comes from Mozilla, whose Firefox browser predates the iPhone era. Not surprisingly, Mozilla’s offering leverages their most famous product with the name Firefox Focus.
Why not call it Firefox Private or Firefox Secure? Who knows, but the concept of ‘focus’, though not specifically tied to privacy, is a big part of what I like about this mobile browser. There are no tabs. Let me repeat that: there are no tabs. That’s the Focus part. And for anyone who has picked up their child’s (or mother’s) tablet and counted about two-hundred and seventy-six open tabs in Chrome or Safari, there is instant appeal to this feature (or lack of feature).
I have a few ideas about the relationship between focus and privacy. For many people, productivity is at its best when no-one is looking over their shoulder. That’s certainly the case with Firefox Focus. With the default settings, it is actually hard to log in to any particular website, and passwords are never remembered. Neither is browsing history. I realize that it is inconvenient to have to type the name of each website you wish to visit, but that’s what bookmarks (stored locally) are for.
Even though Firefox Focus provides vastly improved privacy ‘out-of-the-box’, it still offers a broad range of settings that let you customize, and even increase, privacy during use. Tracking can be increased or decreased by category, meaning you can have more of a social network footprint while blocking ads.
While I am aware that regular Firefox, and even Chrome, can be tweaked to enhance privacy by a user with slight sophistication, I appreciate the fact that Firefox Focus is ready to go. Privacy should not have a learning curve or be the subject of trial and error. There are countless stories of Facebook users who attempted to negotiate that platform’s privacy settings and still broadcast more data than they intended. If you never even look at the settings in Firefox Focus, you are still head and shoulders above what you get with Chrome.
Society is just now beginning to understand that convenience is not a valid excuse to give up privacy. Instead of making that bad deal, download Firefox Focus on your phone and give it a try.