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Firefox extends privacy and security of Canadian internet users with by-default DNS-over-HTTPS rollout in Canada

Firefox extends privacy and security of Canadian internet users with by-default DNS-over-HTTPS rollout in Canada image
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CIRA Joins Firefox’s Trusted Recursive Resolver Program

In a few weeks, Firefox will start the by-default rollout of DNS over HTTPS (or DoH for short) to its Canadian users in partnership with local DoH provider CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. DoH will first become a default for 1% of Canadian Firefox users on July 20 and will gradually reach 100% of Canadian Firefox users in late September 2021 – thereby further increasing their security and privacy online. This follows the by-default rollout of DoH to US users in February 2020. 

As part of the rollout, CIRA joins Mozilla’s Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) Program and becomes the first internet registration authority and the first Canadian organization to provide Canadian Firefox users with private and secure encrypted Domain Name System (DNS) services.

“Unencrypted DNS is a major privacy issue and part of the legacy of the old, insecure, Internet. We’re very excited to be able to partner with CIRA to help fix that for our Canadian users and protect more of their browsing history by default.”

Eric Rescorla, Firefox CTO.

“Protecting the privacy of Canadians is a key element of restoring trust on the internet. Our goal is to cover as many Canadians as possible with Canadian Shield, and that means finding like-minded partners who share our values. We are proud to be the first Canadian participant in the Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) Program and are always seeking out new ways to extend the reach of Canadian Shield to enhance the privacy of Canadians.”  

Byron Holland, president and CEO, CIRA.

Once enrolled, Firefox users located in Canada will see a terminology panel pop up (see screenshot below) that will ask them to approve or opt out of DoH protection. When going to Settings in the settings menu in Firefox, then scrolling down to the Network Settings section and clicking on the Network Settings button, a dialogue box will open. Canadian Firefox users will be able to confirm that “CIRA Canadian Shield” is enabled by looking at the bottom of the dialogue box. They will also have the option to choose Cloudflare or NextDNS as an alternative Trusted Recursive Resolver.

Firefox users in Canada will see a panel letting them know that their DNS requests are encrypted and routed through a DNS over HTTPS provider who has joined Mozilla’s Trusted Recursive Resolver Program

For more than 35 years, DNS has served as a key mechanism for accessing sites and services on the internet. Functioning as the internet’s address book, DNS translates website names, like Firefox.com and cira.ca, into the internet addresses that a computer understands so that the browser can load the correct website.

Since 2018, Mozilla, CIRA, and other industry stakeholders have been working to develop, standardize, and deploy a technology called DNS over HTTPS (or DoH). DoH helps to protect browsing activity from interception, manipulation, and collection in the middle of the network by encrypting the DNS data.

Encrypting DNS data with DoH is the first step. A necessary second step is to require that the companies handling this data have appropriate rules in place – like the ones outlined in Mozilla’s TRR Program. This program aims to standardize requirements in three areas: limiting data collection and retention from the resolver, ensuring transparency for any data retention that does occur, and limiting any potential use of the resolver to block access or modify content. By combining the technology, DoH, with strict operational requirements for those implementing it, participants take an important step toward improving user privacy.

CIRA is the latest resolver, and the first internet registration authority, to join Firefox’s TRR Program, joining Cloudflare, NextDNS and Comcast. Mozilla began the rollout of encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH) by default for US-based Firefox users in February 2020, but began testing the protocol in 2018 and DoH has been available worldwide for Firefox users who choose to turn it on.
DoH is just one of the many privacy protections we provide to our users, like Enhanced Tracking Protection by default in Firefox and the Mozilla VPN.

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