Photo: Sesame Street
Advertisers are furious at Mozilla’s sudden decision to make future versions of its popular Firefox browser block tracking cookies automatically.So they’ve pointed out that less than a year ago the company published a blog post in which it took the exact opposite position — that consumers should choose whether they want cookies blocked or not.
Cookies are the small bits of code that web sites and advertisers drop onto your browser as you surf the web. They help advertisers target you with relevant ads; they also help remember your passwords and usernames; and they help various widgets and access gimmicks function properly.
In February, Firefox’s staff announced that the default position for its new browsers would be to block third-party cookies, rendering users virtually invisible to many types of web browsers. Advertisers were livid. The IAB, which represents web advertisers, said in a statement that “All of us will lose the freedom to choose our own online experiences” because it will be impossible to customise web content for individual users without cookies.
But today the ANA, which represents big brand advertisers like Walmart and P&G, went a step further. In an editorial that called the Firefox move “dangerous and highly disturbing” ANA chief Bob Liodice pointed out that last May, Mozilla favoured user choice over a default anti-tracking position — on its own corporate blog: “If DNT [do not track] is on by default, it’s not a conversation,” Firefox said at the time.
Speaking privately, advertisers tells us that Mozilla is likely to soften its stance before the new anti-cookie default is implemented.
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