The ad trade
group Digital Advertising Alliance is criticizing Mozilla for inching forward with a plan to block third-party cookies.
“Neither Congress, nor law enforcement, nor any government
agency have asked for the draconian measures that Mozilla is planning to implement,” the DAA stated Thursday.
DAA General Counsel Stuart Ingis added that browser developers like
Mozilla “are enormously powerful, and as such, bear an enormous responsibility for upholding the future of the Internet.” Ingis said that cookie-blocking would amount to “stifling
innovation,” which would have “direct, negative results on advertisers’ abilities to support diverse Internet content.”
The DAA was reacting to news that Mozilla
representatives would serve on an advisory board of the new Cookie Clearinghouse -- an initiative of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
The Clearinghouse aims to enable browser
manufacturers block third-party cookies -- which are set by ad networks -- without also inadvertently blocking cookies from companies that have relationships with Web users. The Clearinghouse's
five-member advisory board includes representatives from Mozilla, as well as the browser manufacturer Opera. Privacy advocate Jonathan Mayer, who wrote code that would enable Mozilla to block
third-party cookies by default, also serves on the board.
The Clearinghouse says on its Web site that a company's membership on the advisory board does not imply that the company has
committed to automatically block third-party cookies. But many observers are interpreting Mozilla's participation in the project as a sign that the company eventually will move forward with
Mozilla said on Thursday that it believes advertising “is an important component to a healthy Internet ecosystem.” The company added that it encourages the DAA
and other ad industry groups “to work with us to make that process more transparent.”
Earlier this year, Mozilla said it planned to incorporate Mayer's cookie-blocking software
in the upcoming Firefox 22 browser. But the company held off after tests showed that the patch sometimes blocked first-party cookies -- set directly by publishers -- as well as the third-party cookies
used by ad networks. Stanford's new Clearinghouse aims to fix that problem by developing criteria to determine whether cookies should be considered first-party or third-party.