Updates Firefox to list all host permissions on about:addons


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Aug 17, 2014
by Martin Brinkmann on April 07, 2020 in Firefox

Upcoming versions of Mozilla's Firefox web browser will list all host permissions on about:addons, the internal management page of the browser.

Firefox, just like most desktop web browsers, supports browser extensions. Extension developers need to specify special permissions for their extensions, e.g. access to a particular site, if they make use of that functionality.

Firefox displays these permissions on the Mozilla Add-ons website and when users start the installation process. Firefox users need to accept the permission request to install the add-on in the browser.

Add-ons may be managed on the browser's about:addons website. All it takes is to load the URL, or select Menu > Add-ons, to open the management interface. Firefox lists all installed add-ons and their state, as well as themes and other information.

Permissions of each add-on may be listed when the add-on is selected on the management page. Up until now, host permissions were limited as Firefox did not list them all but only some. The remaining would be listed as "access your data on X other sites" on the Permissions page.

While Firefox users had the option to visit the add-on's page on the Mozilla website to look up all hosts permissions, it was clear that something had to be done about it on about:addons so that users would see all permissions right away. Hosts permissions refer to sites that the extension has access to (opposed to the universal "access your data for all websites" permission.

The following two screenshots visualize the difference. The first screenshot shows how Firefox displays hosts permissions currently, the second how hosts permissions are displayed in the future.
updated-firefox hosts permissions

The change is a smaller one considering that there are only a few extensions that request more than a few hosts permissions. The vast majority of Firefox add-ons appear to request access to all sites even if they are designed to run only on a specific site; this is not a Firefox-specific problem though as the same is done by Chrome extension developers.