Online businesses often rely on advertising to bring in revenue.
Unfortunately, when tracking the activity of users in an effort to drive
targeted ads, the line between innocent observation and privacy
violation begins to blur. The use of third-party cookies is one of the
easiest ways for a company to learn more about prospective customers;
something that Mozilla plans to tackle
in an upcoming version of the Firefox browser.
Mozilla first announced the “Do Not Track” feature back in February,
but later said that it had to undergo further testing. Despite the
ongoing hiatus, the company continues to face backlash from the
advertising community, with many claiming that this will have a negative
impact on the entire online network. Mike Zaneis, general counsel for
the Interactive Advertising Bureau, called the new browser a “nuclear
first strike” against advertisers.
It’s important to note that Mozilla does not intend to block all
cookies, just those that are deemed undesirable. After all, cookies can
be beneficial and serve purposes such as remembering settings for sites
that we frequently visit. The company has been working alongside the
Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford to develop the list of
websites whose data gathering priveleges will be axed; an initiative
being called the “Cookie Clearinghouse”.
Aleecia McDonald, director of privacy at CIS, added, “The Cookie
Clearinghouse will create, maintain and publish objective information.
Web browser companies will be able to choose to adopt the lists we
publish to provide new privacy options to their users.”
In response to the statement, advertisers argue that numerous online
businesses, many of which are small web establishments, will cease to
function if cookie-blocking browsers become the standard. However, this
already seems to be the case; Apple’s Safari browser carries a similar
privacy feature, while Microsoft’s IE10 has made the “Do Not Track”
technology its default setting. “It’s troubling,” added Lou Mastria,
the managing director for the Digital Advertising Alliance. “They’re
putting this under the cloak of privacy, but it’s disrupting a business
What are your thoughts on Mozilla’s new feature? Do cookie-blocking
browsers pose a threat to the sustainability of the internet, or are ad
agencies just trying to protect their own livelihood?