What Will Firefox’s ‘Do Not Track’ Mean for Online Merchants?

Jun 20, 2013

The folks at Mozilla, the non-profit group behind the Firefox web browser, are serious about keeping companies from tracking consumers who don’t want to be tracked.

Yesterday, Brendan Eich, chief technology officer at Mozilla, said it was moving ahead with the development of blocking technology that would limit the placement of cookies in web browsers. Data companies and others use the information gleaned from tracking consumer movement online for commercial purposes. The new blocking technology, which is months away, will require consumers to give their permission for tracking to take place.

"We’re trying to change the dynamic so that trackers behave better," Mr. Eich told The Washington Post.

Not everyone is cheering Mozilla’s plans. Mike Zaneis, general counsel at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, was quoted by Adweek as calling the move a "nuclear first strike" against advertisers and agencies.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who has been among the leaders in Congress pushing for consumer privacy online, said Mozilla’s actions demonstrate "there’s a market for giving consumers strong privacy protections … when online advertisers fall short."

Do you support or oppose the push for cookie blocking technology? What will Firefox’s “Do Not Track” technology mean for advertisers and online merchants?

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12 Comments on "What Will Firefox’s ‘Do Not Track’ Mean for Online Merchants?"

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Mike Osorio
Mike Osorio
4 years 3 months ago

I strongly support this. The consumer will either be granted control or they will take it, helped by the likes of Mr. Eich. Firefox will likely be the start of a concerted effort to make it normal for authenticallly consumer-centric retailers and brands to only track if the consumer opts in.
Marketers and other trackers can whine all they’d like, but the “consumer in control” horse is out of the barn.

Steve Montgomery

Consumers should have the right to determine if they want to be tracked or not. To me, this is no different than a loyalty program. A consumer can elect to opt in or not. When they opt in, they acknowledge that they are giving up certain information and a degree of privacy in order to receive something they consider to be of value.

Ken Lonyai

I support cookie blocking as an option for consumers, but assuming that it will end tracking is a mistake. As each technology reaches its limitation (natural or induced) another technology emerges to replace it. So is the case with cookies.

The privacy/tracking issue cannot be solved by technology because the issue is not about technology, it’s about the rights of individuals. Privacy will ultimately be determined by laws/regulations, the enforcement thereof, or the lack thereof. So while Mozilla’s efforts are admirable, there are too many billions of dollars at stake to believe they have initiated a path to put this issue to rest.

David Livingston
4 years 3 months ago

I like Firefox because I can set it to clear out all cookies when the computer turns off. Some cookies you need to allow for some sites to work. But I can see how some will use cookie blocking as a way of getting around limited free use of some sites. For example my newspaper allows me only 20 free articles. Every time the cookies are cleared, I get a free new 20.

Tom Redd

Retailers will need to create a new “human cookie” in the mind of the shopper…called “The Track Me PLEASE” mental cookie. Rights are rights, and people’s rights need to be protected, but their desires are their own and retailers know this. Our creative retail teams will figure out how to leverage more selective tracking. The best retailers will use this new “cookie” flavor to their advantage.

Great retailers look at hurdles like this as just another challenge and overcome it to their shoppers’ and shareholders’ advantage.

Tom…want my cookie? Work for it!

Dr. Stephen Needel

Advertisers and agencies do not have a right to track us. We can, however, give them permission as we choose.

Bernice Hurst

If advertisers have something valuable to offer, consumers will opt in.

Mel Kleiman

Total support as a consumer. What it means is the use of Firefox will expand. All of the news of government surveillance has created awareness of privacy concerns that is going to make consumers more interested in privacy.

Kim Herrington
Kim Herrington
4 years 3 months ago

It doesn’t really matter, actually, if Mozilla tries to block cookies. There are already a lot of ways for users to prevent cookies, either from plugins or from script blockers. This isn’t something new.

In any case, companies who gather data can uniquely identify your computer with a “fingerprinting” method based on the unique programs, fonts, updates, and information on your computer. Check out this article.

Cookies won’t be important for much longer.

Craig Sundstrom

Recently the WSJ ran an editorial endorsing data mining on the grounds that it prevented the need for something even more intrusive. Although I won’t debate the merits of their argument with regard to national security, I will point out much the same can be said for cookies. If the point of tracking is to find out what we like so advertising/offers can be tailored, is it better to have less tailoring and more (unfocused) ads? Of course one can argue that people should have this right, but they’re not likely getting what they asked for.

Ralph Jacobson

More choice and control of the shopping, or more appropriately, “surfing” experience is key to gaining credibility and trust in the consumers’ views. Merchants could therefore gain bragging rights to having no tracking cookies on their sites. Nice marketing pitch! πŸ˜‰

Verlin Youd

Firefox is doing what their customers want, putting control in the customers’ hands versus owners of websites of every kind. This will force website owners, retailers included, to provide clear and compelling value to customers in order to get them to opt in.


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