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Mozilla tightens belt, folds two Firefox services

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A year and a half after launching the free file-sharing service Firefox Send, Mozilla canned the concept, part of a retrenchment that began this summer when the organization laid off a quarter of its workforce.

Firefox Notes, another service that got its start from the Test Pilot program, also went under the knife Thursday. Notes will be decommissioned on Android Nov. 1, and Mozilla will not provide security updates to the desktop browser’s add-on after that date.

“As Mozilla tightens and refines its product focus in 2020, today we are announcing the end of life for two legacy services that grew out of the Firefox Test Pilot program,” Mozilla said in an unsigned post to its primary blog.

Although Firefox Send – an end-to-end encrypted service where users upload files for others to download – launched in March 2019, it’s been dark since early July. That was when Mozilla switched off the service because of abuse. Criminals were using Send to transmit malware and carry out phishing attacks, leveraging Firefox’s and tacitly, Mozilla’s, reputations to slip by anti-malware filters. At the time, Mozilla said it had only temporarily pulled Send and would restart it once it had added a “Report abuse” function.

That won’t happen. “In the intervening period, as we weighed the cost of our overall portfolio and strategic focus, we made the decision not to relaunch the service,” Mozilla said of Send.

While Mozilla did not go into more detail on its decision, reports from people who were laid off by the organization last month alleged that among the newly unemployed were people from Mozilla’s threat team, who would presumably have been responsible for investigating the abuse reports of a restarted Send.

Also on the chopping block was Firefox Notes, a July 2017 browser add-on released by Test Pilot, the project that asked users to try out experimental features and functionalities. The browser extension for desktop Firefox and the standalone app for Android gave users a note taker whose encrypted content was synchronized among multiple devices.

Mozilla plans to shut down Notes on Nov. 1. “Three important changes will occur on this date,” Mozilla said in a support document. “The Notes browser extension will no longer receive performance or security updates, and if you uninstall Notes, you will not be able to reinstall it.” At the same time, the Android app will stop working and syncing of all content will cease.

Before the stop date, users should do a final sync and then export their notes’ content as HTML, as shown in this support document.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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