IAB Escalates Attack on Firefox Privacy Browser

Says new version will hurt small businesses on the Internet

The Interactive Advertising Bureau escalated its attack on Mozilla for its new Firefox browser that blocks third-party cookies by default, cutting ad networks dead in their tracks.

Since late last month when Mozilla announced the policy, the interactive ad community has been up in arms, calling it a nuclear strike against the ad industry. 

Striking back at Mozilla in a blog post, IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg said the move would undermine small business and consumers’ ability to manage their own privacy controls. Rothenberg called on the Mozilla Foundation to rescind the planned Firefox changes before they go into effect.

Small businesses have the most to lose from the new Firefox browser. Because many of them rely on ad networks to support their business, the new Firefox privacy policy could cut off that revenue stream ultimately forcing them to close up shop.

According to a study by the Harvard Business School commissioned by the IAB, the ad-supported Internet was responsible for 5.1 million jobs and contributed $530 billion to the economy between 2007 and 2011.

“Small businesses can’t afford to hire large advertising sales teams,” said Rothenberg. “Advertisers can’t afford the time to make individual buys across thousands of websites. The technology that brings these two interests together is the third-party cookie.”

The IAB might be jumping the gun. In a statement, Mozilla's CTO Brendan Eich said its consortium of coders was still testing the third-party cookie patch, which really isn't any different from Apple's Safari browser (Safari only accepts cookies from web sites users visit).

"We have no intentions to harm small businesses or the consumer online experience," Eich said. "Firefox users will always have the option of enabling third-party cookies if they prefer that experience."

The interactive ad community is still upset with Microsoft for rolling out a default Do Not Track browser. Advertisers said they would not support the feature.

Through the Digital Advertising Alliance, the IAB and several other advertising organizations have rolled out the ad choices self-regulatory program that gives consumers the choice to opt-out of online behaviorally targeted ads.

“At the end of the day, the advertising and marketing community isn’t going to sign up to a program that would fundamentally be bad for consumers and bad for their customers. It will stop innovation and products,” Stu Ingis, a partner with Venable, which represents the DAA, said during the Direct Marketing Association conference in Washington, D.C.