Firefox ‘Do Not Track’ browser sparks advertising concerns

06/03/2013

Mozilla’s new Firefox browser cookie settings, which will come into effect in early April and will block third party cookies by default, have come under fire from the UK’s digital advertising trade body.

In an open letter, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) expresses concern that the move will “undermine the openness of the ad-funded internet”.

In a statement, the trade body said: “Digital advertising – enabled by third party cookies and other technologies - today helps to fund content, services and applications that consumers enjoy for little or no cost. The economic benefits to European consumers have been assessed by McKinsey to amount to EUR 69bn in 2010. Mozilla’s announcement may also deprive publishers and small businesses of the revenue to support, drive and develop their activities.”

Nick Stringer, Director of Regulatory Affairs at IAB UK comments: “We acknowledge consumer privacy concerns, and across Europe we have worked to improve transparency and consumer control over targeted advertising. Our research shows that consumers understand the importance of the ad-funded internet. The Mozilla approach doesn’t allow consumers to control their web experience, seeing the content and customised offers that interest them.”

Kimon Zorbas, Vice-President IAB Europe, says: “Self-regulatory efforts aim to give consumers more information and control. The new Mozilla setting denies consumer choice, undermining industry efforts to responsibly provide transparency and control. This move threatens to completely undermine ad-funded content on the internet. We invite Mozilla to engage in discussions with other industry players on the best and most effective enhancements to online experiences for users.”

Stringer concludes: “As a sector, it’s essential that we’re aligned about good practice so that consumers are clear about their choices. In survey after survey, consumers want web experiences that are tailor-made for them with relevant content. Blocking third party cookies thwarts this consumer desire and has deleterious effects for companies that help fund this content. No single player in the industry should be determining what consumers get to see and why - that’s up to them.”

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