Mozilla’s Firefox Relay service, which provides you with a fake email address to use instead of your actual one, will soon also provide you with a fake phone number. According to a blog post by Mozilla product manager Tony Amaral-Cinotto, the relay service may produce a phone number for you to hand out to businesses if you are concerned that they may use it to send you spam texts in the future or share it with others who will.
Distributing this secondary contact number should make it simpler to prevent more spam calls and texts in the future. Your relay number can be set to not receive any calls or texts from anyone, or you can choose to just block certain numbers.
This is especially useful if you use your “actual” phone number to receive sensitive information, such as two-step verification codes through text messages, and wish to conceal your true identity.
“How often have you given away your number without much consideration?” Inquiring minds want to know the answer on Mozilla’s blog.
By signing up and agreeing to the terms of service, you give those businesses permission to share any information you voluntarily provide, including your phone number. The odds of your number leaking and being up on a spam caller list are highlighted as a result of such widespread sharing.
Once you sign up for Firefox’s phone number masking service, you’ll have access to 75 monthly text messages and 50 minutes of call time. While Mozilla’s service allows you to respond to messages from your most recent sender, it does not allow you to initiate calls or send texts to anybody (though the company claims it is considering offering these services in the future).
In contrast to Firefox Relay’s current email relay functionality, which allows you to construct several email addresses that forward to your real account, the phone number service provides you with access to a single relay phone number and specifies that this cannot be modified.
While the email service provides a free and premium tier for $1.99 per month ($0.99 per month when paid yearly), the phone number masking service costs $4.99 per month (or $3.99 per month when paid annually). In conclusion, the new phone number function is now available only in the United States and Canada, but subscribers in those two countries also have access to email masking.
Not surprisingly, considering that SMS is not an encrypted protocol, Firefox’s blog article does not mention employing encryption on the text messages that flow via its relay service. We’ve asked for clarification and will update you if we hear back, but in the meanwhile, if you plan to use Firefox Relay to receive private or confidential SMS, you may want to reconsider.