JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
— Firefox has become the most popular browser on mobile phones, but a small group of experts say it could potentially harm children and families by blocking ads, taking over passwords and restricting access to personal information.
In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, experts from the nonprofit Public Knowledge and Mozilla warned that “firefox will take over your passwords, take over access to your email and data, and limit your ability to share, share with family and friends, and share with the rest of the Internet.”
Firefly, which is owned by Google Inc., is one of the largest browsers available on mobile devices.
The browser is the second most popular, behind Google Chrome, according to a survey by online ad tracker Monotype.
FireFox has a built-in security feature that allows users to hide their web browsing history from advertisers.
But the browser has also been found to interfere with popular apps that are used by many children and people with disabilities.
A Mozilla engineer said in the letter that the feature has not been disabled, but that Firefox could take over passwords.
“It’s not a problem if you’re a regular Firefox user, it’s a problem for people with special needs,” said Mozilla engineer Justin Bostock, who said the feature is already available on Firefox.
The browser can be a little hard to find when you first install it, but Mozilla says it’s easy to uninstall.
Mozilla warns that “uninstalling Firefox could leave your computer vulnerable to viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.”
Firefox is also a favorite among children.
A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that 80% of 8-year-olds use Firefox, up from 69% in 2011.
Firefox is the third most downloaded browser in the United States, behind only Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
Many privacy advocates have raised concerns that the browser’s default privacy settings would allow it to record users’ browsing histories.
In response, Mozilla says its default settings prevent such tracking, but it could not be more specific.
Mozilla says that the default settings are intended to be more secure than default, and that “for users who want to keep their browsing history private, Mozilla’s Privacy Shield option allows you to turn this feature on or off.”
The Firefox Privacy Shield feature is available for Android and Apple mobile devices, and it will be available in a free update later this year.