Privacy: Despite their immense popularity, the "Private" or "Incognito" modes you see in many modern browsers aren't really as private as they appear. In many cases, they do little more than prevent your search history, cookies, and passwords from being recorded locally. There are a few exceptions to this (Firefox's Private Browsing feature also has "Content Blocking" tracking protection), but for the most part, people tend to vastly overestimate the protections these modes offer.

To address this, Firefox may be planning to roll out a "Super Private Browsing" (SPB) mode that could provide users with true anonymity; or at least as close to true anonymity as you can get with a normal browser.

This news comes via PC Gamer, which spotted an interesting piece of information within Mozilla's 2019H1 Research Grant program. In this program, Mozilla is looking to offer funding to those who can answer one (or more) of 12 questions related to the future of Firefox and web browsing as a whole.

The 12th main question (RQ12), which covers "Privacy & Security for Firefox," is where Mozilla first mentions its interest in providing an SPB mode to its users. This mode, according to Mozilla, would integrate Tor into Firefox to block "mass surveillance, tracking, and fingerprinting." However, the organization recognizes that doing so wouldn't be easy.

"...enabling a large number of additional users to make use of the Tor network requires solving for inefficiencies currently present in Tor so as to make the protocol optimal to deploy at scale," Mozilla states. That's where you – or, more specifically, any privacy researchers who may happen to be reading this – come in.

If Mozilla can answer the following questions, there's a good chance SPB could become a reality:

  • What alternative protocol architectures and route selection protocols would offer acceptable gains in Tor performance?
  • And would they preserve Tor properties?
  • Is it truly possible to deploy Tor at scale?
  • And what would the full integration of Tor and Firefox look like?

If you feel equipped to tackle these issues and help Mozilla create a better private browsing mode for its users, you can apply for research funding right here.