Ad firms urge Firefox to rethink cookie ban

Two influential advertising organizations are urging online search engine Mozilla to reconsider an earlier decision to block third-party cookies in a future release of Firefox, saying the move will result in users being served up more online ads which they probably don’t like.

A ban on third party cookies will result a “change for the worse” for Firefox users,” according to Rendall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

“Without third-party cookies, they (users) will not be able to participate in the existing industry system for privacy protection,” he said in a statement. “They will see an increase in the irrelevant spam advertisement served to them and they will lose the privilege of having content that matches their interests.”

“It is the third-party-cookies that tells content producers and advertisers whether you’re more likely to be interested in information about baby strollers ore retirement planning services…that enables urgent messages like AMBER alerts and weather emergencies to be delivered to relevant, localized audiences,” he said.

Mozilla will be automatically blocking third-party cookies starting with Firefox 22, which is expected to be rolled out this summer, according to recent blog post by Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford University researcher and one of the people who developed the HTTP header implementation which signals a user’s do-not-track preference. He submitted the code to the Bugzilla bug-tracking database ran by Mozilla.

“The default Firefox cookie policy will, beginning with release 22, more closely reflect user privacy preferences,” Mayer said in his blog.

Cookies are used by online advertisers to track Internet users’ online behaviour Cookies are instrumental in the development and serving up so-called targeted ads that are supposed to be advertisement closely in-tune with the likes of specific users. Many consumer and privacy advocates, on the other hand view the cookies as unwanted online-tracking that encroaches on people’s privacy and a technology that fosters spam.
In the United States Senate, Democrat senators John Rockefeller and Richard Blumenthal reintroduced last Thursday a do-not-track bill that would require online companies to honour do-not-track requests from consumers.
However, Dan Jaffe, VP of government relations, said blocking cookies is “counterproductive” for consumers and business.


86% of Web sites deliver third-party cookies

“If the company (Mozilla) moves forward, consumers will be herded into a new browsing experience where Mozilla will make the choice for them,” he said in a recent blog. “Blocking third-party cookies by default sends the false message to consumers that OBA (online behavioural advertising) is inherently bad without providing any meaningful background knowledge describing the innumerable benefits of being served relevant ads.”

Firefox 22 could be released in late June with and is scheduled to move out of the nightly channel, the roughest-edge version designed for developers when it enters into aurora version, then onto beta version and later on general release by late June.

Mozilla has earlier said that its Firefox plan is not unlike what Apple Inc.’s Safari browser already does. Safari has been blocking third-party cookies since 2003.

Microsoft Corp. last year activated its own do not track feature on Internet Explorer 10 as a default on the browser for the Windows 8 operating system and is now pushing it for Windows 7. The move was similarly opposed by ANA.

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