How to Stop Firefox from Sending Downloaded File Information to Google

If you have used Google Chrome for a while, you may have noticed that sometimes it will block your downloaded files and flag them as a malicious software. This happens because the downloaded file information is sent to Google’s servers where Google maintains a remote list of malicious software and websites. For Firefox’s users, that same feature is baked into Firefox (from version 31) as well. If you are not a fan of Google vetting your downloads, here is how you can stop Firefox from sending downloaded file information to Google.

Note:

1. According to Mozilla’s wiki, Firefox will only send information for executable files (.exe).

2. Although Firefox 31 has the remote lookup feature, it will only become fully integrated from Firefox version 32, and it is a Windows only feature.

1. There are two ways to prevent Firefox from sending downloaded file information to Google. The first way is to change a value inside Firefox configuration settings. To do that, open up your Firefox browser and type about:config into the address bar and press the Enter button (make sure you are using version 31 or above).

2. If your Firefox browser displays a warning message, just read it and press the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button to continue.

stop-firefox-sending-file-info-warning-message

3. Now in the search bar, type browser.safebrowsing.appRepURL. This will reveal a preference name or string with a Google URL in its value.

stop-firefox-sending-file-info-app-reputation

4. Just double click on that string to open the “Edit string value” window. Delete the entire URL and click on the OK button to save the changes.

stop-firefox-sending-file-info-edit-string-value

5. Once you have deleted the URL, the string looks something like this.

stop-firefox-sending-file-info-after-deleting-value

That’s all there is to do; you have successfully disabled the remote lookup feature in Firefox.

If you don’t want to mess with Firefox configuration settings, the second method is to disable the “safe browsing” feature completely. By disabling this feature, Firefox won’t protect you from any malicious or phishing websites. You have been warned!

1. To disable safe browsing, open up your Firefox browser, type about:preferences and press the Enter button to open the Firefox preferences page.

2. Navigate to the security tab and uncheck the check boxes “Block reported attack sites” and “Block reported web forgeries.” Once you have done that, just close the page to save the changes.

stop-firefox-sending-file-info-disable-safe-browsing

That’s all there is to do.

So, what do you think of this newly introduced application reputation feature in Firefox? Do share your thoughts using the comments form below.

8 comments

  1. I actually use DownThemAll to manage my downloads. I suggest every Firefox user to check this great add-on

    • DownThemAll description says nothing about the add-on scanning downloads for malicious software. So, while DTA maybe a great download manager, it does nothing to prevent FF from contacting Google.

  2. While I can understand Chrome calling the mothership, why would Mozilla implement such a “feature?” Is it perhaps a hint that Mozilla might be the next company gobbled up by Google?

    Google is behaving like the Borg – “Resistance is futile!”

  3. Since it is a Windows-only feature not implemented for Linux or other OS’s, it looks to me less like a Borg gobble-up and more like a way to help PC users who are not technically sophisticated avoid problems. These are the users who supply zombifiedcomputers to the bad-guy nets, after all. Why not help them? If they don’t want the help and have a little technical ability, they can turn it off. I have many relatives who will be much better off with this feature enabled.

    • “it looks to me less like a Borg gobble-up and more like a way to help PC users who are not technically sophisticated avoid problems. ”
      You’re right, it is to protect the users. Each individual Google initiative taken by itself benefits the user in some way. However, each initiative, such as the flagging of malware, gathers more and more data about the user and adds it to the Google database. Before we know it, Google will know more about us then we know about ourselves. To paraphrase one of the Three Big Lies – “I’m from Google. I am here to help you.” While it is admirable that Google is helping the government in apprehending child pornographers and terrorists, what does that do to our privacy when all our Internet traffic is scrutinized? I know, it is for “the public good.” I wonder what else will be declared to be against “the public good?” Incorrect political views? Incorrect religious beliefs? Incorrect dietary habits?

      Am I paranoid? I don’t think so. I am just extrapolating into the future based on what has happened so far. Do I see some kind of a dark conspiracy designed to deprive us of our basic, Constitutionally-guaranteed rights? No, but I do see a slippery slope which, if we are not carefull. can lead to the gradual erosion of those rights.

      Pretty soon it will be a toss-up as to what entity has more data stored about us, Google or the NSA.

  4. I hate the fxxxing gOOgle! Such kind of “back door activities” must be blocked immediately!

    thx for info.

  5. Hi – great idea! Worked like a charm for CyberFox – but not so well for FireFox. Though I have ver 32, it doesn’t have that particular line to delete. It does have 4 lines with google.com in the addy, as follows:

    browser.safebrowsing.gethashURL;https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/gethash?client=SAFEBROWSING_ID&appver=%VERSION%&pver=2.2

    browser.safebrowsing.malware.reportURL;https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?client=%NAME%&hl=%LOCALE%&site=

    browser.safebrowsing.updateURL;https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/downloads?client=SAFEBROWSING_ID&appver=%VERSION%&pver=2.2&key=%GOOGLE_API_KEY%

    browser.safebrowsing.malware.reportURL;https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?client=%NAME%&hl=%LOCALE%&site=

    Please let me know if I need to delete any of these to get the advantage you mention, here. Thanks!

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