Archive for the “Mozilla” Category

Chris Beard Named CEO of Mozilla

July 28th, 2014

I am pleased to announce that Chris Beard has been appointed CEO of Mozilla Corp. The Mozilla board has reviewed many internal and external candidates – and no one we met was a better fit.

As you will recall, Chris re-joined Mozilla in April, accepting the role of interim CEO and joining our Board of Directors.

Chris first joined Mozilla in 2004, just before we shipped Firefox 1.0 – and he’s been deeply involved in every aspect of Mozilla ever since. During his many years here, he at various times has had responsibility for almost every part of the business, including product, marketing, innovation, communications, community and user engagement.

Before taking on the interim CEO role, Chris spent close to a year as Executive-in-Residence at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners, gaining a deeper perspective on innovation and entrepreneurship. During his term at Greylock, he remained an Advisor to me in my role as Mozilla’s chair.

Over the years, Chris has led many of Mozilla’s most innovative projects. We have relied on his judgment and advice for nearly a decade. Chris has a clear vision of how to take Mozilla’s mission and turn it into industry-changing products and ideas.

The months since Chris returned in April have been a busy time at Mozilla:
•   We released major updates to Firefox, including a complete redesign, easy customization mode and new services with Firefox Accounts.
•   Firefox OS launched with new operators, including América Móvil, and new devices, like the ZTE Open C and Open II, the Alcatel ONETOUCH Fire C and the Flame (our own reference device).
•   We announced that the Firefox OS ecosystem is expanding to new markets with new partners before the end of the year.
•   We ignited policy discussion on a new path forward with net neutrality through Mozilla’s filing on the subject with the FCC
•   In June, we kicked off Maker Party, our annual campaign to teach the culture, mechanics and citizenship of the Web through thousands of community-run events around the world. President Obama announced the news at the first-ever White House Maker Faire.

Today, online life is a combination of desktop, mobile, connected devices, cloud services, big data and social interactions. Mozilla connects all of these in an open system we call the Web – a system that puts individuals in control, offers freedom and flexibility and that is trustworthy and fun.

Mozilla builds products and communities that work to break down closed systems that limit online choice and opportunity. There is a huge need for this work today, as our digital lives become more centralized and controlled by just a few large companies. Toward that end, Mozilla builds products that put the user first, with a focus on openness, innovation and opportunity.

Chris has a keen sense of where Mozilla has been – and where we’re headed. He has unique experience connecting with every constituency that touches our products, including consumers, partners and community members. There’s simply no better person to lead Mozilla as we extend our impact from Firefox on the desktop to the worlds of mobile devices and services.

Chris, welcome back.

Panel on Internet Governance Mechanisms

May 26th, 2014

Internet Governance has become a much more active topic of discussion recently, as I described a bit in this previous post on NetMundial.  As part of the Internet Governance activities of the last 8 or 9 months, I have participated as a member of the Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms.  This  panel was convened in late 2013 by ICANN and the World Economic Forum (WEF), chaired by President Toomas Ilves of Estonia, vice-chaired by Vint Cerf, and infused by Fadi Chehadé, the president of ICANN, and supported by the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands.  The Panel has just completed its work, releasing its final report on how to evolve the Internet Governance ecosystem.  The press release is here.  There are also comments by some of the Panelists, which came out of interviews done with the Panelists at the various panel meetings (the questions have been edited out of the final versions).  In some cases, including mine, the comments cover a range of topics broader than the Panel.

In this post I’m going to set out a couple thoughts about the process.  It was a first for me to participate in a panel like this chaired by a sitting Head of State.  This reflects the very high degree of commitment to an open internet by President Ilves, which is exciting to see in action.  The report adopts the principles set out in NetMundial whole-heartedly.  This was interesting, it is an example of people evaluating a ton of our own work and effort and pride of ownership and happily setting it aside to participate in something bigger.  The principles the Panel had put together were very similar to those of the NetMundial document.  Not exactly the same, but Panel members clearly saw our core outlook and goals reflected in the NetMundial principles.  And so we adopted them as our own, and view this as a huge success.  I am proud of how we did this.  It’s so easy to grow attached to one’s own work for its own sake.  It’s easy to convince oneself that one’s own words or style or approach or work is subtly better, and should be maintained and promoted.  It’s *so* easy to create fragmentation when unity is key.

I also am drawn to this paragraph in the preamble: “The Panel’s report is based on rough consensus.  The views represented in this report do not necessarily reflect the views of the conveners or of all individual Panel members.”  I know the latter sentence is not so uncommon.  It’s not that rare to have people decide that the overall result is good and they are willing to attach their names to it, even if some part is imperfect or weak.  So there’s not much new there.  What struck me is the phrase “based on rough consensus.”  A number of Panel members are very deeply involved in core Internet operations and protocols: the Panel included the head of ICANN, the head of the Internet Society (home of IETF), and of course Vint Cerf.  A number of the rest of us have been almost that deep in Internet technology for a good while.  So the idea of “rough consensus and running code” is deep into the mindset of many Panelists.  I can’t speak for others of course but I saw a bunch of the traits that are important in a rough consensus in action here.  We started with a bunch of diverse views on the panel, combined with a determination to move forward.  We identified key areas of fundamental agreement.
– Multi-stakeholderism.
– Distributed governance, not a single centralized authority.
– Solutions and organizations that develop organically by people working on the problem.
– Building knowledge and capacity so that more people can participate knowledgeably.

“Rough consensus and running code” isn’t a panacea of course.  Like almost every approach, there are plenty of ways in which it can be corrupted and derailed.  When it does work however, it’s extremely powerful.  It gets people aligned, moving in the same direction with the same general principles to a shared goal, and empowers people to go make things happen.

The final report itself sets out suggestion for building on the work of NetMundial.  Some people undoubtedly want the final report to go much further in proposing solutions, and processes to follow.  Others were very focused on this document as a second stage building on NetMundial, and encourage more to come.  I personally am of two minds.  On the one hand I’d love to be able to point to concrete processes or distributed governance mechanisms and say “see what we’ve done and how much more we can do.”  On the other hand, one big part of the goal is to describe the multistakeholder, distributed governance approach to citizens and governments and policy makers who are relatively new to Internet Governance.  There is very explicit mention in the report’s Introduction.  Given this, pointing to new solutions might not be the right approach.  Pointing the direction and figuring out new solutions together might be a much more long-lasting approach.

In  any case, I am eager to see multi-stakeholder Internet Governance strengthened.  And deeply interested in building a governance system where citizens and civil society organizations are valued participants and leaders.

Ronaldo Lemos Joins Mozilla Foundation Board

May 22nd, 2014

Please join me in welcoming Ronaldo Lemos to the Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors. Ronaldo brings a passion for the open Web and a wealth of new knowledge to the Mozilla Foundation Board. Ronaldo is an internationally respected Brazilian academic, lawyer and commentator on intellectual property, technology, and culture. He is the director of the Rio Institute for Technology & Society, and professor at the Rio de Janeiro State University´s Law School. He has also been the Project Lead for Creative Commons in Brazil since 2003.

Lemos was one of the creators of the Marco Civil da Internet, legislation for protecting civil rights, privacy and net neutrality for the Internet in Brazil—key, given Mozilla’s increasing focus on the role of policy in protecting (or harming) the open nature of the internet. Ronaldo also brings a broad view of the nature of the internet in markets like Brazil, where an increasing amount of people are coming online primarily via mobile.

Ronaldo has been working with Mozilla since 2005, helping Mozilla conduct activities in Brazil, working together on policy issues, and increasingly providing advice about Firefox OS as a tool for mobile empowerment. Ronaldo strengthens our voice and expands our reach. You can follow him (in Portugese mostly) on twitter at @lemos_ronaldo, Facebook and the Instituto de Tecnologia & Sociedade do Rio de Janeiro. We are excited to have Ronaldo’s expertise and energy as part of our leadership team.


April 30th, 2014

Last week I attended the NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in Sao Paulo. It was a 2 day event, following a multi-month process. A web search for NetMundial outcome will provide a range of evaluations, including one from fellow Mozillian Chris Riley. Here I’ll provide a (somewhat idiosyncratic) description of what it was like to be at the event that led to these articles.

Internet Governance and NetMundial

Internet Governance has become a much more active topic of discussion recently, spurred in part by an increased level of scrutiny of the US Government’s involvement following the Snowden revelations. I should start by saying that there is some confusion over the meaning of “Internet Governance.” It’s sometimes used to refer to development process for technical decisions affecting the Internet, and is sometimes used more broadly to mean decisions regarding public policy issues that touch life through the Internet. Here is a nice infographic about the topics, attendees and goals of the event from the folks at Access Now.

I attended NetMundial as a representative of Mozilla and as a member of the Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms. This is a panel spurred by Fadi Chehadé,the president of ICANN, and organized late in 2013 as this press release describes.

The NetMundial organizing committees prepared a draft “final outcome” document. There have been a number of comments, questions and criticisms submitted in written form in the months leading up to the event. Both the Panel on which I participated and Mozilla made submissions to the drafting committee, as did many, many other organizations. A good part of the event was spent hearing comments from the floor. The final version of the document was published at the end of the NetMundial event.

Multi-stakeholderism, or Who is Able to Make Decisions About the Internet

One key issue is the nature of the group that should address Internet-related issues. Boiled down to the simplest possible formulation, the question can be seen as: should the Internet be regulated by governments, in a multi-government process (such as the UN); or (b) should civil society, technologies and / or business interests be able to participate in how the Internet is developed? The first of these is known as “multi-lateral” and the latter as “multi-stakeholder”. The multi-lateral approach is of course what the government ministers and other representatives are used to. The multi-stakeholder models is closer to what much of the technical community is accustomed to. NetMundial was designed as a multi-stakeholder event.

Like many of those involved technically with the Internet, I find it impossible to imagine how a government-only process can result in anything other than big trouble for Internet development. During this event I came to realize how many people view “multi-stakeholderism” as a way for big U.S. Internet corporations to have a controlling voice in policy and Internet development. Some civil society organizations seem to prefer a government-only approach as better than one that involves the commercial players. NetMundial brought me a much better understanding of this perspective. There were also speakers who commented that governments are the legitimate actors here and multi-stakeholder resolutions are inappropriate. One speaker from China noted that each country should be able to build its own infrastructure in line with its own needs.

The relationship of national sovereignty to multi-stakeholderism was raised but (to my knowledge) not thoroughly discussed. As just noted, a few people advocated that each country should make its own laws as it thinks best. Even within groups interested in pursuing the multi-stakeholder approach there remains a question of the correct role for government. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff raised the topic of national sovereignty explicitly within a multi-stakeholder context in her address as well.

One thing that was clear at the event however — the avenues of participation open to many high level government representatives were the same as the rest of us. During the comment section there were 5 or 6 microphones for different types of participants — civil society, business, technical community, government. Government ministers who wanted to comment were given a chance to get in line behind the government microphone and participate in the round robin of comments. The same 2 minute limit applied to them as well, though not to comments or responses from the organizing committee I was particularly struck by the comments of a minister from Argentina. Argentina was one of the 12 co-hosts of the event, which one might think would give the minister some particular influence. When her turn came she noted that her government had submitted written comments earlier in the process but those comments had not been included in the draft outcome documents, so she would make them again in this public forum in the hopes that they would be accepted. As noted earlier, representatives from China, Russia, and I’m told from Iran and Saudi Arabia, rose to raise their concerns. The Canadian minister used his turn to stay that Canada supports the outcome document, understanding it is imperfect, and believing it is well worth supporting.

I was told by a few seasoned political representatives that to their knowledge this aspect of the event was unique. They at least could not remember another meeting where government representatives of this level participated but did not control the final outcome.

This strikes me as a significant success, quite separate from the content of the document. Whatever the scope of national governments, it is good to have all representatives in Internet Governance see themselves as equal as human beings, and to experience what life is like for individual citizens.

The organizers also arranged for people to participate from a number of “Remote Hubs” around the world. When I first arrived at the event venue I ran into a Free Software and Mozilla advocate I’ve known since my first trip to Brazil some years ago. (Hello Felipe!) He was part of the staff arranging the Remote Hubs, and focusing on using Free Software to do so. I heard many people comment on how effective the Hubs were. At Mozilla we’re pretty used to people participating in our meetings all using the Internet as the communications channel. (This is another reason why I <3 the web.) For many however, NetMundial seems to be the first experience with such a thing and a number of people mentioned it to me as a new and powerful element.


Another key topic was privacy, with a particular emphasis on protection from mass surveillance. President Rousseff has been outspoken on this issue, making a clear connection between privacy and democracy, and privacy and state-to-state relationships:

In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations.

(Sept. 2013 speech to the United Nations General Assembly:

There were many, many comments on this topic at NetMundial. The reaction to US mass surveillance globally is deep and seems to be ongoing in a way that’s not nearly as apparent from inside the US. The NetMundial outcome document includes a condemnation of mass surveillance, but many, many people felt this is inadequate, and that a stronger and more specific response is required.

Net Neutrality

Another contentious topic was net neutrality. In ironic timing, the event took place at the same time as the US Federal Communications Commission announced that it is contemplating rules that allow business discretion in how content is delivered to people. The rules themselves are not yet known. There was an immediate and deep concern that this will dramatically change the rules in the US, and thus deepen problems on a global basis. The FCC chairman Mr. Wheeler asserts that “The proposal would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted.” But many believe the changes will end up providing enhanced opportunity for those with extra financial resources, and limit opportunity for anyone else. Net neutrality language did not end up in the final document, which is another source of disappointment for many.


NetMundial’s big innovation was in the range of participants, not the particular format. For me, accustomed as I am to hack-a-thons and un-conferences and self-organizing work groups, the event was a bit traditional. However, I talked to enough other people to know it was wildly different from most events government officials and diplomats attend.

I’m very happy I was a participant, I’m very pleased the event occurred, and I see it as a positive step forward in Internet Governance. The challenges to a healthy Internet and healthy online life are deep and varied. There’s still a reasonable chance that the wildly democratizing and hopeful nature of the Internet will deteriorate into yet another centralized technology for the big organizations of the world. NetMundial was also an opportunity for citizens and civic groups to participate along with the big players — government and business. NetMundial showed the range of people everywhere who look to the Internet with hope and energy.

On Mozilla’s Support for Marriage Equality

March 29th, 2014

Last week I wrote that Mozilla’s commitment to inclusiveness for our LGBT community, and for all underrepresented groups, will not change. Acting for or on behalf of Mozilla, it is unacceptable to limit opportunity for *anyone* based on the nature of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is not only a commitment, it is our identity.

This left unanswered the question of whether equality explicitly includes marital equality. I want to clear that up. Speaking as the Chairwoman, I want to speak clearly on behalf of both the Mozilla Corporation and the Mozilla Foundation: Mozilla supports equality for all, explicitly including LGBT equality and marriage equality.

Statement: Mozilla Supports Marriage Equality

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