Tag Archives: paywall

T-Mobile joins growing number of sites blocking Firefox in Private Browsing Mode.

T-Mobile joins growing number of sites blocking Firefox in Private Browsing Mode.

When you attempt to log in to the T-Mobile Web site using Firefox in Private Browsing Mode, you’ll now be greeted by this message.

Firefox is no longer supported in private mode

The Firefox browser is no longer supported in private mode on our site. To continue, please take Firefox out of private mode or choose another browser. We recommend Chrome, Safari or Edge.

It turns out that what’s going on is there’s a way to detect Firefox is in Private Browsing Mode and Mozilla is not fixing it. Apparently, a number of news sites, including the New York Times, use this to determine if you’re trying to use the Private Browsing Mode to avoid their paywall, which counts how many articles you’re reading using cookies and local storage, and then demands that you pay to continue reading.

They do it by looking to see if Indexed Database API is available, and if it’s not, blocking your browser.

Fortunately, there’s a Firefox extension called Hide Private Mode that fakes support for this. I tested this (by installing it and giving it permission to work in Private Browsing Mode, of course), and found that T-Mobile is no longer able to detect the Private Browsing session, and allows me to log in.

Mozilla has apparently known about the problem since at least ten years ago, but two years ago, they closed this bug to replace it with another bug that describes the same problem and still isn’t fixed.

Too busy adding “Colorways” that expire on January 16th?

I saw the release notes for Firefox 106, and it’s no wonder people are leaving. There’s been pretty much no work on the browser at all, and in this 6 week release, the only improvements have been an updated PDF reader. There weren’t even any Web Platform changes for developers in those notes.

So much for Mozilla.

Firefox for Android no longer gives the user control over the browsing experience. Privacy Browser turns off JavaScript by default.

Firefox/Fennec for Android no longer give the user significant control over the browsing experience.

The browser that said it was on a mission to enable users to “take back the Web” has been falling from grace for years, starting with Digital Restrictions Malware module, Widevine, and then quickly moving to remove a lot of features and then relegating them to extensions, which were then neutered in order to make them easier to port over from Chrome.

But nothing has made me more upset than what has happened to Firefox (or Fennec, the Free and Open Source version) for Android.

Mozilla’s move to GeckoView rendered over 99% of all Firefox extensions incompatible with the mobile browser, including bypass paywalls, and there is no longer any way that I’m aware of to turn off JavaScript.

Major news Web sites like the New York Times are now unreadable in Firefox for Android because I can’t simply block their paywall like I can in my desktop browser, so I decided to try out Privacy Browser for Android, which is in the F-Droid store.

As the name implies, it disables many privacy invading Web technologies like JavaScript, by default, but you can turn them on again if you want to. In my experience, many news Web sites that load paywalls work in Privacy Browser because the JavaScript that enforces their paywall fails to execute. So now whenever I run into a paywall, I have to switch to a different browser.

Privacy Browser can work with the Tor network Orbot program, but it would be better to use Tor Browser itself if you need actual anonymity, as Privacy Browser relies on the Chromium WebView engine and that is proprietary and Google makes it very difficult to properly secure.

The Privacy Browser maintainers say that they plan on forking WebView into “Privacy WebView” and bundling it in version 4.0, which will definitely deserve another look.

Right now, I’m not using it expecting privacy. I’m using it because Mozilla is making Firefox impossible for the user to control at all, and in many cases I don’t want JavaScript on anyway.