Take Back the Web

Maybe you are already a Firefox user, we are part of a minority on the web today, and think that this text is not for you. You’re probably right, but I’d like to make a few points here and ask for your help in taking the web back before it’s too late.

And if you don’t use Firefox, you’ve been using some version of Chromium (Chrome, Edge, Opera, Brave or Vivaldi) a few years ago this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but today it’s bad for the health and freedom of an web that respect privacy and is not controlled by capitalist corporations, the so-called Big Techs.

In this article I will bring the importance of abandoning Chrome, explaining technical and practical motivations for doing so. In a next post I will demonstrate all the advantages of Firefox both for your privacy and for the usability and conveniences offered by the browser.

Google Chrome is a proprietary fork (derivative software) of the “Open Source” Chromium browser, quotes here because Chromium has a license that allows proprietary closed-source forks (such as Chrome itself and Microsoft Edge) and that do not guarantee the rights of users. Currently, Google controls most of the changes made to the code and effectively dictates the direction of Chromium’s development. This is worrying as Google only consolidates its monopoly on controlling the internet with Chromium browsers.

That monopolies of private companies are bad for consumers is nothing new, Google today is one of the largest companies in the world and like every capitalist corporation, it exercises its power to achieve its own goals rather than the public’s interest. Without competition Google would have no reason to keep Chrome optimized and bringing features that the user needs, or even worse, what will most likely happen is the implementation of even more anti-features disregarding basic user privacy principles (what already happens today is just a sample of what could come to pass if this scenario becomes real). The web needs to remain free in order to evolve in a way that is beneficial to all, and for that to happen we rely on independent organizations supported by all browsers. When web standards are debated and defined, Google has a voice orders of magnitude greater than all other parts. Google already controls much of the web traffic with all its services combined. Furthermore Google alone controls approximately 90% of all browser technology. All of this gives Google unregulated, undisputed, and exclusive control over the future of web standards.

Another problem is the Chromium monoculture, should such a monopoly be established. Just as a monoculture sucks when it comes to agriculture, it is also not good in the software world, as it implies that vulnerabilities in one browser are replicated in all others that use the same technology and it can be even more attractive to hackers. In March 2022 it was revealed that this has already occurred with Chromium browsers.

About privacy, it’s not news that Google’s main focus for generating revenue are ads, in 2021 81% of their profit was only with ads, and profiling to target ads to users, so in that sense Google has been working hard to force changes that collaborate with its goals of generating more and more revenue. Since 2018 Google has announced Manifesto V3, which among other things will make blocking ads by extensions unfeasible, and from June 2023 support for V2 will end, thus only Firefox and Safari will continue to have extensions capable of effectively blocking ads.

I forgot to talk more about Safari, which today is practically the new Internet Explorer, at least 5 years behind other browsers. Therefore I’m not even going to waste time on this.

To conclude, if Chromium continues without competition, there won’t be much of a free web in the future. That’s why I appeal to you, a Chromium browser user, to consider trying Firefox, and you Firefox user, pass on this message.