While it has yet to become a significant player in the smartphone market, Mozilla is hoping that its open-source Firefox OS will be a game changer when the mobile operating system gains a larger presence in countries like the United States and United Kingdom. In the meantime, the software maker has gone on the offensive against rival platforms iOS and Android.
Mozilla chief technology officer Andreas Gal, in an article published by The Guardian this afternoon, criticized iOS and Android for being “closed systems” that rely on proprietary software with “almost a complete lack of transparency.”
Gal claimed that consumers should have the right to know how a device is using their information, especially in light of concerns over NSA surveillance allegations. “Right now the user has a choice between one phone where you can’t tell what goes on inside it and another phone where you can’t tell what goes on inside it,” he said.
The executive promoted Firefox OS as being a much more open alternative compared to the lack of transparency shown by software leaders Apple and Google. iOS has always been considered a closed ecosystem, while Gal argues that Android is simply Google’s way of getting in your front pocket to increase the company’s value.
“What an Android phone essentially is, it’s like Google’s agent in your pocket… they don’t intend to put you first, they put Google first because Google needs to increase their value,” he said. “They’d like to know things about you and track you so they can target you. Google sets the rules that serve Google in the end, not necessarily the user.”
Apple and Google have both removed privacy-focused apps from the App Store and Google Play on their respective platforms in the past, such as Disconnect and Clueful, with Google adhering to a policy against apps that interfere with others and Apple following suit with its strict App Store review guidelines.
“We don’t think it’s a good idea that corporations rule these massive ecosystems with arbitrary rules that sometimes can be completely opposite to what the user wants,” said Gal. “The user should be able to know what is happening to their data and have some influence over it.
Gal believes that the recent debate over government influence on software platforms may encourage more consumers to give open-source software like Firefox OS a closer look, and Mozilla has high hopes that the platform will help highlight the strengths and openness of the web.
“That’s what we hope people will choose over these closed systems,” he said. “We can’t change the industry over night but we can move in the right direction.”