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Waterfox Classic

Version tested was 2022.04.

Waterfox is a web browser that is a fork of Firefox.

Note: This article is part of an ongoing discussion. See this for more details.

Spyware Level: Medium

Waterfox is a fork of Firefox that claims to be more private and secure than Firefox. However, Waterfox contains telemetry and shares information about you with Mozilla, and has other spyware features.

Waterfox connects to spyware services when it is first run

If you start up Waterfox for the first time, it will make between 31 to 130 requests (most of them being version checks)[4] to several spyware platforms, notably Matomo, and Mozilla online services like its Geolocation service, and several other Mozilla services, as well as Waterfox's own update service. You can look at a list of these requests here.

Waterfox is integrated into the "Firefox Accounts" spyware platform

The "Firefox Accounts" platform allows you to sync a lot of sensitive information, such as your internet history, across all of your devices. This is, of course, all being stored on Mozilla's servers.[3] This feature is opt-in spyware, but it should still be mentioned. If you don't want your internet history to be uploaded to Mozilla servers, don't use this feature.

Waterfox is self updating software

Self updates are a spyware feature since they are usually ways for the developer of a program to put spyware into their software without presenting it in a prominent way where the user can understand what they are giving up when they download the update.

Other known spywares, like Chromium, make use of this method

Not spyware related, but worth noting

Anti-privacy search engine by default

By default Waterfox uses the search engine Bing. Why would a privacy-based Web Browser offer this search engine by default? The other offered search engines are not much better- we have the option of searching with Google, which also logs your internet searches, and Ecosia, which also logs your internet searches (but it gives them to Bing). The developers attitude towards these search engines is concerning:

"Bing is actually quite good for privacy as well (let's not forget Mozilla even suggested them as a more privacy focused search back in 2009)."[2]

It's very clear that while the browser advertises itself as very privacy focused, the actual words and actions of the developers aren't consistent with this claim.