Mozilla bans the FVD Speed Dial extension and removes it from Firefox; but users are furious after losing their bookmarks
Mozilla has banned the popular new tab extension, FVD Speed Dial, from its Firefox add-ons repository. A discussion on Mozilla's Discourse portal sheds some light behind the drama.
The full name of the add-on is Speed Dial [FVD] New Tab Page, 3D Start Page, Sync. The developer was Nimbus Web.
About a year ago, Mozilla discovered that the add-on was using a shady way to collect user data. FVD would intercept search queries made by users, and redirect these web requests to a third-party search engine.
Having being caught red-handed, the extension's developer was told by Mozilla, to cease the practice. The developer disabled the feature, and FVD Speed Dial was allowed to be hosted on the AMO. Fast-forward to the present, and it appears someone didn't learn their lesson. The controversial feature was re-added in FVD Speed Dial. Since the developer had been warned earlier, this was a repeated offense, Mozilla decided that that was the last straw, and blocked the add-on.
If you had FVD Speed Dial installed in Firefox, you may find that it has automatically been removed. For those curious, here is the FVD Speed Dial listing on the AMO, which when visited shows an error that says the page cannot be found. This is the Web Archive version of the page, for reference.
Here's the message that is displayed on the add-on's page.
This add-on violates Mozilla's policies as search functionality provided or loaded by the add-on must not collect search terms or intercept searches that are going to a third-party search provider. The add-on has repeatedly violated these terms despite Mozilla explicitly pointing them out.
FVD Speed Dial users are furious after losing access to bookmarks
Now, while Mozilla banning the extension is good, it does pose some difficulties for users who relied on the add-on. Many users have lost access to all the bookmarks they had saved via FVD Speed dial. And now that the add-on has automatically been removed from the browser, and banned from the store, there is literally no way to install it again. This leaves the user in the lurch, as they have lost their priceless data. Some users are outraged, and are blaming Mozilla for blocking the add-on without warning. They believe that remote disabling of the add-on, is censorship, and that users should have been given the choice whether to use the extension or not. To make matters worse, Mozilla has locked the discussion with a dry apology.
I'm all for security and privacy, and banning the add-on is the right call, but I empathize with the users who lost their data. Have you ever been locked out of accessing your data? Your office work, studies, hobby projects, etc., could be affected by this. I experienced a slightly similar issue when OneTab stopped working out of the blue, it was frustrating, but the developer was quick to fix the problem with an update.
Perhaps Mozilla could have handled this FVD Speed Dial ban in a better way. Maybe, by displaying a warning that educates the user about the malicious add-on, and prompt users to export their data, and then remind them to remove the extension manually. Well, it's too late for that, I suppose. But maybe this is something that they should look into for the future.
At the time of writing this post, FVD Speed Dial is still available on the Chrome Web store. If you were relying on the Firefox add-on, and want your data back, the next section may help you.
DISCLAIMER: I personally haven't tried this, but some users on reddit claim that they installed FVD Speed Dial on Edge/Chrome, and used it to export their speed dials to the clipboard. You can use this to import them into another add-on, such as Group Speed Dial. This, of course, will only work if you had synced your data to the cloud, using Eversync. If you desperately need to recover your data from FVD, this seems like a good idea, actually it maybe the only solution for the problem. Don't forget to remove the add-on when you're done with it.
Were you an FVD Speed Dial user? How do you feel about the add-on being removed?