Mozilla is aware that the vast majority of its users think that privacy on the internet is falling apart, so it's launching a new strategic privacy initiative called Polaris. And you'll never guess who's on board. Just kidding, it's totally obvious: the Tor Project.
Along with the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), the Tor Project is advising Mozilla "on privacy technology, open standards, and future product collaborations", says Tor's Andrew Lewman.
The first project, currently underway, involves Mozilla engineers raking through their own code to see how they can make Tor work better. This is especially significant, since the Tor Browser is based on Firefox code. The next stage will involve Mozilla hosting its own high-capacity Tor middle relays. This would speed up Tor connections worldwide, since middle relays carry traffic from anonymous uses to exit relays.
The second project sounds really exciting: Mozilla says it's testing a "a feature that protects those users that want to be free from invasive tracking without penalising advertisers and content sites that respect a user's preferences." Based on the phrasing it sounds like a feature that could one day come to Firefox—in fact, it sounds a bit like the rumoured "Tor button" for Firefox. (I've reached out to Mozilla for more details about this feature and will update this post when I hear back.)
Along with recent news that Facebook is now offering a special Tor-only URL to make it easier for anonymous users to access the internet, it really does sound like the Onion Router is finally hitting the mainstream. [Mozilla via GigaOm]