A Black & White Coding Issue

Benjamin Bradley was an enslaved man who developed the technology for the first steam powered warship. He was not allowed to patent his invention, so he sold it and used the proceeds to buy his freedom.

 

It’s Juneteenth, the perfect time to make changes for the better.

Technology is a great thing. The people who develop it, however, are only human. Some code still in use today uses phrases like ‘master/slave’ and ‘blacklist/whitelist.’

We at FoxyProxy recognize that it’s time to update those terms to something less overtly problematic and clearer to the intended purpose.

“Please consider renaming black patterns and white patterns to something more inclusive and clearer. Besides that associating black with not passing and white with passing, is kind of offensive, I’d also think that the function of the two lists can be more clearly communicated when being renamed.”

The above is part of a bug report submitted to us via github.

Although FoxyProxy for Firefox does not use whitelist/blacklist, it does use white and black patterns. These words are used in 3 places in the FoxyProxy Firefox Add-on:

1. In the user interface (UI) with which people interact
2. In the internal Javascript programming code and the data written to/read from disk (both in exported settings and the saving of internal state).
3. online documentation

#1 can be changed relatively quickly.

But #2 will be more involved and requires (among other things) writing “upgrade” code that would convert the use of the old terms to the new terms. This code has been around in various forms since approximately 15 years, so this will be a process. Bear with us.

Writing this upgrade code is going to take a lot longer to implement, test, and release, and we invite “pull requests” from the public (that is — contributions from people outside of our team) to support this effort. Such work can be contributed on github directly.

We are still discussing the replacement terms, but are leaning towards green and red patterns.

We at FoxyProxy are very proud that we have a long track record of diverse hiring practices. Our personnel is currently and historically made up of at least 50% marginalized communities including women, people of color, and LGBT people. We welcome all people to our team, and it’s time we do what we can to reflect that in our coding practices.

Here are some screenshots showing the terminology in use.

Periodic Pandemic Privacy Post

                         any bets on what fresh horror awaits us next?
Hello. We hope you’re well.

Time for a little update on the Covid-19 privacy debate! Things have been getting continually weird, that’s for certain. For instance, from an article by the EFF:

Judges in West Virginia and Kentucky have ordered people to wear GPS ankle shackles (often called electronic monitoring), after they tested positive and then allegedly broke stay-at-home orders.

However, more worrisome is the notion that the pandemic-driven level of surveillance becomes the new normal. Facial recognition, GPS monitoring, thermal scanning, are all being touted by various app developers and tech companies in the race to be the next big thing in surveillance.

Though there are people raising concerns, such as these senators in the US, we hope to see even more attention paid to this rising concern. Keep your eyes on these stories, and don’t accept the erosion of your privacy as an acceptable trade off for ‘security.’

Stay safe, everyone!

 

Covid-19, Privacy, and You

Hospitalized fox in Australia. Photo by ABC: James Glenday

 

PANDEMICS AND PRIVACY

We want to start out by saying that we sincerely hope that none of you have been affected by the current global pandemic. If you have in any way, our hearts do go out to you and yours. 

By now, you’ve likely heard about the privacy mess that is Zoom, after millions more users flooded onto the platform, whether to work via conference or just chat with your friends ‘face to face.’  The company is rolling out new privacy standards after facing immense pressure, but risks do still remain.

However, video chat and conferencing services aren’t the only privacy concern that has arisen.  Google and Apple are preparing to team up on surveillance tech to help track the spread of Covid-19, prompting the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to raise alarm over the privacy and security risks that may come along with any potential contact tracing tech which the Google/Apple (Gapple? Goople? Aggle?) pairing may put forward.

Certainly a story to keep an eye on! In the mean time, stay safe, wash those hands, and do something amazing for a medical worker,  grocery employee garbage collector, and all other essential workers who don’t have a choice but to be exposed to this pandemic in order to keep the rest of us healthy, fed, and happy.

Privacy? We Got Your Privacy Right Here!

No, you don’t see me.

PRIVACY IS KIND OF OUR THING

Recently, a customer asked us about our Privacy Policy. 
It’s a pretty great one, if we do say so ourselves, so we’re going to break some of it down for you to illustrate how awesome it is. And as always, if you have any questions about it, just ask!

While we’re at it, we’d like to illustrate our commitment by reminding you of the time we got a subpoena from the US Department of Justice, and the exceedingly polite and succinct ‘Hahaha, no’ from our founder in reply.

 

 

  • We log only amount of bandwidth you use, not URLs, content or anything else about how you use your accounts.
  • We don’t track what you do with your VPN/proxy services.  You do you, babies. We won’t judge, because we don’t even track it.
  • If you use one of our free products or services, we don’t collect any information about you. Honestly. None.
  • If you use our support system, this system asks for an email address in order to notify you of replies. Don’t want to give us your real email? That’s cool! Use a burner. Make a disposable. Get creative with the names, too, we love it.  We encourage you to use a disposable email address for this purpose,even though we will never share or sell that address, give it to a 3rd party unless required by law, nor send any emails to it except reply notifications.
  • If you use one of our paid services, we collect the minimum information possible in order only to bill you. For example, we cannot bill a credit card without a name. If we did collect billing information from you, that information (except your email address) is not stored by us. It is stored by our payment provider, Recurly. Their privacy policy is here. We also accept digital currencies (bitcoin, ethereum, etc) if you want to go that route.
  • If we did collect minimal billing information from you during checkout, we will never share or sell it. We will never give it to a 3rd party unless required by law. We will never market to you directly unless you expressly opt-in when making a purchase or when setting the marketing preference in the control panel.

 

 

 

Why Pay For a VPN?

WHY PAY US WHEN YOU CAN JUST GET A FREE VPN?

We get it, there are loads of VPN companies on the market today. A lot of them are even free.  Free is very appealing, especially if you just want to stream something or get access to some location specific content.

you want to watch the latest Uzalo? We’ve got you covered.

 

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, THAT’S WHY

1.  We limit at most 3 customers per server. In some cases, even just 1 customer per server. This is more expensive for us, but provides an overall better experience for customers. Our speeds are often much better than others because we don’t oversell. Many competitors buy a few dozen or few hundred (!) large servers, then sell access to that fixed set of servers. This means thousands of customers competing for the same bandwidth on a VPN server. No fun for their customers!

2. We guarantee video streaming for certain websites (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iplayer, ITV, Channel 4). If one of those video streaming sites stop working, all a customer must do is email us and we give them a different server which works.

3. 100+ countries and counting, all the same price. How many of the companies who have free service offer Réunion? Jordan? Lebanon? Mongolia? Taiwan? UAE? Iceland? The answer is not many, because such locations are much more expensive than the typical USA, UK, Germany, Amsterdam, etc.

4. Our Support team is awesome. We offer phone support and remote session support (we remotely control your computer while you watch, if you like). How many companies offer that?

SHOULD YOU TRUST A FREE VPN?

How do you know who to trust? Just who is behind that appealing sounding VPN? A good amount of the most popular free VPNs either have Chinese ownership or are actually based in China.

Given that China has aggressively clamped down on VPN usage and is famously restrictive with internet usage within its own borders, it’s no stretch to wonder if these companies are funneling data to the Chinese government or other parties.

Not to mention, nailing down the ethics of non-transparent and ad-based companies can be tough. Should you trust a company whose priority is making profit for it’s shareholders? (The answer is no.)

Do they hold your privacy as top priority? They forget to tell you who is the real customer for most VPN providers; the venture capitalists. The investors. The people who financed the company. They want their money back, and with interest. The VPN company can give that quicker and bigger if they monetize you.

Since our inception, FoxyProxy has had no investors. We run no ads. There are no shareholder meetings.  We’ve had opportunities and passed them over because we won’t compromise our customers for a dollar. We refuse to sell out our loyal following.

Our meetings involve lots of food and casual dress

 

 

 

Things are Happening!

Please enjoy this autumnal beauty
THINGS, THEY ARE HAPPENING.

We are a hair’s breadth (or, is it a hare’s breath? That’s more poetic) away from our Firefox add-on update being finished. The brains of FoxyProxy have spent months completely re-writing the code, and the fruit of that labor will be released soon.

Additionally, more irons are in the fire for things like a native iPhone app (instead of manual iPhone config), additional payment options and updates to our Chrome extension, so do keep an eye out for those!

 

111 COUNTRIES!

That’s how many countries around the world we currently offer VPN/Proxy service for. Chances are, there are at least a few on the list that you don’t know much about, so we’re taking the opportunity to highlight a couple of them below.

We’ve been doing this for 13 years!   In Internet years, we’re practically elder statesmen. Thirteen years in the business means we know what we’re doing, and our customer support reflects that.

We are committed to giving you the best service, the most reliable product, and respecting your privacy first and foremost. We don’t store or track your data, log which sites you visit, none of it!

We have core values that are important to us. 

We advocate for privacy, free speech, free press, government transparency, sensible copyright and sensible DRM. We’re members of the Electronic Frontier FoundationCenter for Democracy and TechnologyFreePressStop Watching Us, and the Mozilla Foundation.

We donate money and resources to non-profit organizations that are aligned with our principles, like the Center for Biological Diversity, who help endangered fox species, the Tor Project, so you can see we put our money where our mouth is.

So, do a little reading, go down some travel rabbit holes, and learn a bit about where some of your fellow humans come from.
IRAN
Yes this is Iran. Surprised?

Iran is a country with millennia of human history and stunning natural beauty. Far from the desert landscape most westerners imagine Iran to be, there are lush subtropical jungles in the north, snowy cold winters in the west, and everything in between, with the country boasting 11 of 13 different climate types. Iranian people are famous for their hospitality, and Iranian art and architecture has been deservedly revered for centuries.

NORWAY
Admit it, you were expecting a fjord

Norway is a historical home to Vikings and land of more beauty than you can shake a stick at. But, it’s also one of the most peaceful and socially equal places on Earth. It’s also home to trolls, the well known and frankly, a little terrifying Atlantic Ocean Road. They also gave us Slow TV, for which I am eternally thankful.

Some Words From Our Founder

Reflection

Recently, our founder/head honcho/brain in charge/all round awesome nerd, Eric Jung, sent an email out to employees.
… NO, NOT THAT KIND OF FOUNDER

On the surface, the email was about reaching a milestone with our support team. However, it’s so very illustrative of the ethos of Eric and FoxyProxy itself, that we wanted to share it with a wider audience.

There are other VPN companies out there who are flashier,  and some of them even have cute animal mascots (none so cute as the fox, though. It’s science.), but they don’t carry the same history and commitment to ethics that we do.  

There’s a reason we’ve been doing this for 13 years.

We aren’t in this to raise millions from investors. We’re in this because FoxyProxy was founded on a principle.
Thanks for choosing us to help you safeguard your privacy! 
“It’s just amazing to think where we’ve been as a group and where we are now.
I am very proud and lucky to work with all of you.
Thank you for being part of a company whose ethos is to “stick it to the Man” — you want to censor what we can see and do on the internet? You can’t and we won’t let you. This is why, when someone for example in UAE tells us FoxyProxy didn’t work for them  (as recently happened), I get upset and lose sleep.
This was the founding principle of the company long ago, why I wrote the software I did — long before most anyone else was thinking of internet privacy and anti-censorship, especially journalists who love to talk about those topics now. And it is still part of us today. I hope you feel it.
This Summer I must fully re-write our original product yet again (FoxyProxy for Firefox) due to breaking Firefox changes. I hope the new product will also work with Chrome and that will be “refreshed” — it needs it. “

Sneaky Sneaky!

Doing a mighty sneak.
source 

Sneaky Threats to Your Privacy

You know that we here at FoxyProxy love privacy.  It’s kind of what we do and it has been our core value since 2006.

We also know that a lot of you go through your daily lives doing things like working, cooking, family stuff, and generally living, and so you may not have a minute to think about all the things that might be putting your privacy at risk.

That’s where this handy post comes in!

We’re going to outline some privacy threats that you may not have even thought about, so that you can have even more tools at your disposal.

Hidden cameras. We shared this story about an AirBnB which was found to have an undisclosed camera tucked away. Luckily, the family found it by doing a quick scan for wifi devices. While the company does allow cameras if they are disclosed, it’s smart to always check to see if there is a device hidden somewhere to look in on you.

Another option would be a wifi jammer such as this one  which easy to use and, as a bonus, means you can act out your own Cyberpunk fantasy and yell “I’M JAMMING THE SIGNAL!”

You know you thought of this.

 

Public Wifi.  Sure, free public wifi sounds great. And it’s something a lot of us probably don’t give much thought to as we stand in line, drink our coffee, or go about our days in the public realm. But! We often don’t think of the risks that come along with it.  Here’s a great article which lays out some of the things you can do to keep yourself more secure.  What’s one of those steps? Using a VPN of course. 

 

Data Tracking.  It’s no secret that when you hop onto a browser, most of what you do is being logged somewhere. There are some pretty easy steps to take to limit this insidious tracking, however. The big browsers do have various settings that you can manipulate to limit what gets tracked. However, as we just shared with you, that’s not anywhere near perfect. Browser extensions are available which block various ads, trackers, and cookies and are easy to use.  Or, if you’re willing to try something new, you could migrate your usage over to the one of the privacy focused browsers such as Brave or even go all out and use the Tor browser.

Lots of choices are emerging in the browser market, so keep an eye on new developments as the big guys try to win back the hearts of the privacy-minded.

 

 

The Internet of Things.   This should go without saying. And yet, here we are. 

Have Some Privacy for The Holidays

 

EFF YEAH, PRIVACY!

With the various winter holidays come lots of gifts, and with lots of gifts come lots of privacy concerns. Have no fear, though! There are ways to shore up your defenses, so to speak.

We tried to find a picture of a fox in a tank. You know, defensive. We’re rolling with it.

Our Pals at Mozilla have issued their second annual *privacy not included guide to the season’s more popular tech-centric gifts, with categories such as ‘Can it spy on me?’ and ‘Can I control it?’ to help folks figure out the privacy particulars of their devices.

First course of action when you get a fancy pants new tech toy is to pay attention to all those permissions it’s going to ask you the fist time you fire it up. Are you really going to be using that new thing for phone call? If the answer is ‘No, literally no one actually calls anyone anymore’ then don’t say yes if it asks for access to your contacts. Take those permission requests one at a time and actually think about if it’s necessary.

Settings, settings, settings  After your thing is all set up and dazzling you with its bells and whistles, take the time to do a deep dive through the settings. Default settings will be skewed to the manufacturer’s preference, not yours. Do a bit of Googling and figure what you can change, and how.

Happy Holidays, and if all else fails just take the batteries out and use your device as an expensive paperweight.

YES YOU WANT 50% OFF!

WE LOVE YOU GUYS

Really and truly!  That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get 50% off any of our plans, now through Saturday the 24 at Midnight. 

Just use the code : black-friday-2018 and you’ll get 50% off. 

50%! If you’ve been trying to decide on trying us out, or if you’re an existing customer who wants to expand your plan, now’s your time. 

See? Easy peasy. Now go get internetting!