Mozilla Comes under Attack – and of Age

Published 13:57, 18 July 13

Back in March, I wrote about the odd little attack by the European arm of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on Mozilla’s plans to put control of cookies firmly in the hands of users. Alas, the IAB seems not to have come to its senses since then, but has instead doubled down, and launched one of the most bizarre assaults on Mozilla and the open Web that I have ever read. I warmly recommend you to read it – I suspect you will find it as entertaining in its utter absurdity as I do.

It’s entitled “Has Mozilla Lost Its Values?”, which is strange, because what follows is a rambling moan about precisely those values, and Mozilla for daring to adhere to them. As you might expect, Mozilla has not “lost its values”, it’s defending them here just as it has always defended them. Here’s the central argument of the IAB piece.

At first blush, Mozilla’s ideology seems inarguable. “We simply believe that when personal data is collected to deliver these [personalized Internet] services, the collection should be done respectfully and with the consent of the consumer,” the company said on its Mozilla Blog on May 10. Its decision to block third-party cookies by default was made “to strike a better balance between personalized ads and the tracking of users across the Web without their consent.”

Seemingly benign, Mozilla’s ideology is weighted down with counter-historical presumptions. The entire marketing-media ecosystem has subsisted on purchase-behavior data and other forms of research being available without individuals’ consent. R.L. Polk & Co. receives automotive ownership data from some 240 sources, including state governments, auto manufacturers, and financing companies, to create profiles of nearly every vehicle on the road and the people driving them. This data has been central both to the health of the auto industry and to improvements in cars, driving, and auto safety over the years.

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