Many people have been praising Mozilla’s Firefox 3 ever since pre-beta. I can easily throw myself onto that band wagon, but there is one feature that has been causing a little commotion, and I again can easily agree with the commotion.
Firefox 3 (FF3) limits usable, encrypted (SSL) web sites to those that have an approved digital certificate from an authorized vendor of Mozilla’s choosing, making it so you have to pay to be recognized. What’s the big deal?
When you visit an encrypted site in FF3, and that site uses a self-signed or simply unapproved certificate, FF3 doesn’t immediately show the page. Instead, you are greeted with what, at first glance, would seem to be an error page.
In order to move beyond this page and actually continue to the site as intended, you need to process through 4 clicks to add that site as an “exception.”
The use of a certificate is for SSL – which has two main purposes – allow connections to be encrypted so they can’t be snooped, and allow sites to be authenticated so they can’t be impersonated. Advocates of Mozilla’s policy seem to only focus on the latter, stating that a self-signed certificate has no value for authenticating a web site. The real concern is that snooping is much more of an easily attainable threat than impersonation. So, it is much more valuable to have a self-signed certificate than nothing at all, but doing so puts FF3 users at an inconvenience.
This, to me, sounds like it is blatantly going against the notions of Net Neutrality, something that has been fought to keep open for ages. Something like this completely discriminates against those not willing to purchase an “approved” certificate.