Howdy again! This is Tony from the Firefox Relay Team, and I’m very excited to announce we have expanded the protections of Firefox Relay with our new phone number masking offering. Our initial release is available to users in Canada and the United States. (We’ll continue to explore bringing these protections to more people around the world!)
With Firefox Relay Phone Masking, you are able to create a phone number mask that forwards calls and texts to your true phone number. When you receive a text, you can reply to the last person you received a text from. Starting to receive spam after giving your phone number out or just don’t want to be contacted by someone? You can easily turn on global blocking or block an individual!
As we continue to expand our offering, I’d love to learn from you about how/where you would use a phone mask instead of your true phone number. Is it when you have to make a reservation at a restaurant? Need it for a digital receipt? Maybe you just met someone who asked for your phone number.
Please feel free to share how and when you would use a phone number mask. Also, if there are any additional features like outbound calls, texts, etc., you would like to see in the product, let us know!
This is the sort of thing I've been wanting to do myself, but cool to see Mozilla building this! One feature that I think would be helpful: since you can only have one phone number, why not let people generate (long-ish/random) extensions per-contact to give out? That way you could potentially display/announce/log the extension that was used, and you'd be able to determine where the caller got the extension from if it were to leak.
Thanks for the feedback! Can you give an example of how you would generate and give out an extension? I can't say that I've seen a web form that accepts phone number extensions? Not sure what to look for.
They are unfortunately uncommon in web forms for anything not business-facing but are very common anytime the user might be associated with a business as business users often have extensions.
It is currently a bit harder to handle this on the web in this direction (an end user handing out a number + extension) than the reverse (end user calling a business number + extension). A tel: URI can accommodate an extension via either a comma-delimited or semicolon-delimited suffix - the former representing a pause before auto-dialing the extension and the latter adding a button to the dialer to dial the extension. But yes, web forms don't necessarily accommodate this today. (I'd like to imagine they would start to if non-business users started having extensions).
UI-wise, I was imagining something kind of like the Firefox Relay UI for email, where you could create a new extension and set some sort of alias for it. If you're able to set custom caller ID when calling users, you could display that alias then. (I was envisioning doing this as a VoIP app in which case that's straightforward, but this new Relay feature calls users over the PSTN so you may need caller ID here).
So far it works fine, but certain sites like Steam and PayPal seem to not work with it. Steam won't accept it because it's a VoIP number (or that's what it says), which it does with Google Voice too, and SMS texts from PayPal don't come through. Those are the only two sites I've run into that don't work with the Relay number.
Also, while I imagine that Mozilla set the current limits for good reason, is there the possibility talk and text amount could be increased in the future? Possibly under a higher subscription tier?
@CyborgZetathank you so much for the feedback and sharing your experience with Steam and PayPal. That is the one challenge we face in the space is that some services do not accept VOIP, we've spoken with our vendor about this. I hope though that you're able to continue to protect your privacy on other services too.
For the limits, thank you for bringing this up! We selected them based off of an idea of how we could deliver a cost-effective solution and still give our users a lot of room to protect their privacy. Based off of the feedback we receive we can look to offering an increase in the limits, maybe even as you suggested at a higher subscription tier. Let us know your thoughts on this!
I can't speak for others, but I think a higher subscription tier that has more talk and text would be fair. Pay what you're willing to pay for and all.
That said, I've run into more sites like my bank's, where I don't receive SMS with the Relay mask. I haven't been able to use the mask as much as I'd like because it doesn't work as widely as my Google Voice number does.
Adding higher tiers won't necessarily mean much if compatibility remains limited. Also, unless talk and text are unlimited, it might not be enough for some people to use.
But to be fair, the Relay mask is just a mask, not necessarily a second number. Google Voice is essentially a VoIP landline. Different use cases, to a degree. I only use Voice as a comparison because the Relay mask is also classified as a VoIP number by sites like Steam.
Thank you for sharing this! This information is really helpful for us. I know there will be multiple places you will want to protect your privacy, and I do get a bit nervous that using it for your bank (if it did work) might put you in a particular circumstance with the current limitations, which is probably back to the root of your suggestion about increasing those text/minute limitations.
Thanks so much for sharing your feedback on the new phone number masking feature for Firefox Relay. We are closing out this thread, but want to encourage you to continue sharing your feedback and ideas about improving or expanding on this offering in new posts—just be sure to use the necessary 'Firefox Relay' labels and tags. That way your posts are easily searched for and discovered by others (plus our teams).
These types of discussions with Product Managers/Engineers are an ongoing series here in the Mozilla Connect community, so we look forward to continuing to collaborate with you all 😀
-The Community Team