Stop defending Google and Mozilla

Written by Theundercoverman on 2022-02-19

I previously wrote about why Google’s browser monopoly is worse than Microsoft’s because the web has evolved to the point to where it’s no longer possible to develop a browser because browsers are too complex. Because of this most people will have to choose between Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox (or one of their forks). Maybe one day Mozilla will drop Firefox entirely and contribute to the Chromium project, and when that happens, it’ll be the end of several web browsers (specifically LibreWolf and Pale Moon). Between Chrome and Firefox, there is no lesser evil. Both are far-left organizations that do not give a shit about their users and do not respect your privacy.

We all know Google Chrome is spyware (onion) and that Google is to be avoided. Let’s talk about some of their recent decisions regarding the Chrome browser:

As for Mozilla, just read DigDeeper’s article (onion). TL;DR Mozilla is a shit organization that removes features and settings so they can be more like Google, supports censorship, spies on you (onion), is controlled opposition, and loves Cloudflare and the LGBT.

It’s sad that despite all of these privacy issues and anti-user decisions, just about everyone is still using or recommending Chrome or Firefox (or forks like Ungoogled Chromium and LibreWolf) for privacy. Google and Mozilla can get away with all of the bullshit they do and only a small fraction of the userbase will boycott them. The rest don’t care or they pretend to care but end up coming back because to them Chrome and Firefox are the only options available and all other browsers are “insecure” or “unusable”. You could always just use NetSurf or Links, but most websites won’t work on either of them. You might consider using a WebKitGTK or QtWebEngine browser like Falkon or Luakit, but those browsers still use Google’s technology (QtWebEngine is Chromium), though, unlike Ungoogled Chromium, they don’t seem to be entirely dependent on Google’s decisions.

Of course, most people will never use those browsers, and at some point we’re going to have to use Chrome in order to browse the web because more and more websites will only work on that browser. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people try to justify using Chrome and Firefox.

“But other browsers are less secure”

While it’s true that browsers such as Netsurf and Links aren’t updated as often as Google Chrome and don’t have the same security features that Chrome has, these browsers have a much smaller attack surface, which means many vulnerabilities found in Chrome and Firefox don’t apply to these browsers. In addition, text-based browsers like Links don’t support JavaScript, CSS, or graphics. Almost all tracking methods are rendered useless by Links.

As for the browsers that use WebKitGTK or QtWebEngine, most of the security issues are handled by the browser engine and not the browser itself, so as long as you’re using an updated version of one of those engines, you’ll receive security updates even if the browser itself doesn’t update. While these browsers are technically still Chromium browsers, they aren’t entirely dependent on Google.

Ungoogled Chromium and LibreWolf are frowned upon by many “experts” because they lack automatic updates and because they are forks of Chrome and Firefox respectively, they will always be behind in updates. None of this applies to Linux users. Because updates are handled by the distro’s package manager rather than the software itself, there is no reason to have automatic updates in the browser as all packages can be updated with just one command. Since packages must by updated by the distro maintainers in order to be made available to the users, it doesn’t really matter whether a browser is a few days behind Chrome since you’re already behind, especially if you use a stable release distro such as Debian which freezes packages for a long time. While it is possible to harden Firefox for privacy (by using this user.js and installing either uBlock Origin or uMatrix), LibreWolf does most of the hardening by default. I believe the benefits of using these forks outweight the risk of having updates delayed by a day or two.

“But other browsers don’t support addons”

Do we really need addons? I think most of them are useless. Apart from uBlock Origin or uMatrix, all of the privacy/security addons are redundant. Even the addons that may be useful do have some workarounds:

uMatrix is the only addon which is hard to replace since it provides functionality that no other addon that I know of has: the ability to block any type of request (cookies, CSS, images, JS, etc.) from any domain on a per-side basis. Unfortunately this addon has been unmaintained for over a year now but it still works. Some browsers like Qutebrowser have the option to disable JS by default and enable on certain websites, but this is nowhere near as advanced as uMatrix and will not block cookies, CSS, images, or other requests. ηMatrix is a fork of uMatrix for Pale Moon that is still maintained. Otherwise, your best option is to just disable JavaScript, cookies, and optionally CSS and images entirely.

All other addons including xBrowserSync, proxy addons (such as FoxyProxy), VPN addons, and password managers are either useless or can be done outside the browser.

“But you’ll have a unique fingerprint by using another browser”

Fingerprinting cannot really be prevented since everyone configures their browsers differently. Some argue that by using a rare browser, changing settings (such as disabling JavaScript), or using addons like uBlock Origin, that you end up standing out and therefore worsening privacy. To combat this, you should use Google Chrome on Windows with no browser extensions and JavaScript enabled, which doesn’t really matter since there are ways to uniquely identify Chrome users. There are much worse issues than fingerprinting such as JavaScript, using your actual IP addresses, and spyware. You’ll have more privacy resolving those issues than trying to change your fingerprint.

Most Tor users use the Tor browser bundle. It’s recommended to use only that browser and no other browser with Tor (especially not Links) because by using any other browser, you’d stand out thus ruining your anonymity. First off, I don’t believe it’s possible to be fully anonymous online regardless of which darknet you use. Second, most people don’t use Tor, so you’ll stand out regardless of which browser you use. Using Tor will however hide your IP address and allow you to access onion services, so even if you used a different browser with Tor and a website owner is able to fingerprint you based on this, they still wouldn’t know your true identity.

It’s so stupid how we’re still using Chrome and Firefox despite everything Google and Mozilla have done. It’s sad that people still recommend Firefox for privacy just because all the other browsers aren’t “secure” or “private” enough for them. More recently it seems like privacy communities are becoming more tolerant of Google and proprietary software, probably because of “security researchers” like Madaidan who keep shilling Google. Even people who are critical of Mozilla still use Firefox just because “it’s the best browser for privacy”, when in fact it’s not. For fucks sake, Links is a better browser for privacy and security than Firefox or Chrome. If you want to be able to access modern, bloated websites, why not use something else like Falkon or Qutebrowser instead? Or actually, you shouldn’t even be using those websites. Sure some people have boycotted Mozilla over the years once they’ve had enough (personally I believe version 57 was when Firefox turned to shit), but for every one of us who boycotts Firefox, there’s at least a dozen users who either remain loyal to Firefox or switch to Google Chrome (or one of it’s forks). I am tired of people tolerating Mozilla and Google’s anti-user decisions and defending them because they thought all other browsers are “insecure” or “unusable” and that Mozilla is just “the lesser evil”. There is no lesser evil.