On the occasion of Microsoft starting to roll out tests of the Browser Choice Screen in parts of Europe this week, Mitchell and I, along with others, have written a short letter about why choices that we make matter greatly, and why browser choice matters now more than ever.
There are a lot of things to say here, and I’ll repost the content of our letter below (you can find it as well at opentochoice.org, a mini-site we’ve set up to celebrate and explore the choices that we have and need).
But the argument we’re making boils down to this:
- The Web browser colors the way that you see and interact with the Web — it’s an increasingly important mediating piece of technology.
- We’ve built Firefox to reflect the values of user control and security — and we always will. There are short and long term implications of this design point of view.
- But more important than choosing Firefox is that people make informed choices about the technology they use — it’s more important that you understand why you’re using the tools you’re using than any one specific choice.
We feel, too, like the issue of putting users, not servers, in control of their online lives will keep coming up more and more loudly in the coming months and years. Not everyone is working from the same point of view, and choices will matter in the long run.
I hope that you’ll write & blog & tweet about the important aspects of choice and user control as well, to add your voice to the conversation.
Web Browser Choice Matters
Our lives are full of choices. Where to eat? What to read? Who to spend time with?
The choices we make determine the quality of our life, and how we see the world. So many of these choices we take quite seriously, weighing the consequences, thinking about the implications, and choosing carefully and thoughtfully.
So it’s strange, then, that the majority of people in the world haven’t ever considered the Web browser on their computer or mobile phone — that so many people every day use the browser that comes by default.
It’s an important choice because the Web browser has become one of the most critical and trusted relationships of our modern lives – with nearly perfect knowledge of everything we do. It is the lens through which we look at the virtual world, and the medium by which we connect, learn, share, and collaborate. The browser you choose is responsible for providing you with the necessary tools to manage your online life, and to protect your privacy and security.
And so we’re pleased to support the European Commission and Microsoft in also recognizing how important choice is. In accordance with a landmark settlement, if you’re using a Windows PC in Europe and you’re still using the default Web browser, in the coming weeks and months you’ll see a Browser Choice screen appear. That screen will provide you the opportunity to make an active choice in the source of the software that acts on your behalf to broker your online experiences, and meet your own unique needs and interests.
As an international non-profit organization, Mozilla has always believed that the freedom to make smart choices should be central to making the Web, and the world, a better place. This shows through with Mozilla Firefox, a free, open-source Web browser that more than 350 million people around the world have chosen to use every day. Values of choice and self-determination are built into everything that we do, including Firefox.
We believe that the Browser Choice screen is an important milestone towards helping more people take control of their online lives — and we hope for the conversation to become broader and deeper. We’ve set up opentochoice.org as one place for you to discuss what this choice means to you — and we hope that you’ll add your own voice to this conversation and those to come.
Whether or not you decide to keep your current Web browser, we encourage you to learn more about your browser and the impacts it has on the way you see the world, and to make your own choice.
Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Chair & John Lilly, Mozilla CEO