The logo for Mozilla’s Firefox browser features a fox with its tail on fire. How did that fox’s tail ignite?
Maybe because it was flamed by Randall Rothenberg, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s president-CEO.
In an interview with AdExchanger.com earlier this week, a contentious Rothenberg escalated the war of words with Mozilla over the organization’s plans to block third-party cookies on a new version of Firefox. Specifically, Rothenberg attacked Mozilla’s recent announcement that it is creating a “Cookie Clearinghouse” that will assess which cookies ultimately get blocked on Firefox. Two prominent figures involved with this “clearinghouse” – which Rothenberg previously labeled a “kangaroo court” – are Aleecia McDonald, director of privacy at Stanford University’s Center for Internet & Society, and Jonathan Mayer, a privacy advocate and graduate student at Stanford.
Rothenberg called McDonald “incompetent” and Mayer a “not a rational player.” Rothenberg continued: “What would you call [Mayer]? He's a Bolshevik of the Internet world. He's a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. To have a so-called cookie clearinghouse, a Star Chamber court of people like Aleecia McDonald and Jonathan Mayer, it's not just a nonstarter, it's actually appalling. It's an insult to a very large community of people who use the digital-marketing media supply chain to earn their livings.”
Rothenberg also questioned Mozilla positioning itself as a consumer privacy advocate. He said the organization might be more accurately characterized as anti-advertising: “On the one hand, they insist that they are not anti-advertising and they point out, correctly, that most of their revenue comes by extension from some form of advertising, i.e. through its contracts with Google, for example. At the same time, they are the world's largest distributor of ad-blocking software. They're an organization that says, ‘We're not anti-advertising. We're not anti-business. We're really all about the consumer experience and consumer control,’ but yet they not only facilitate things, but actively promote things that are inimical and harmful to a giant swath of the Internet stakeholder community.”
Mozilla, despite announcing a delay to its plan to implement third-party cookie blocking, is showing no real signs of backing down, according to this Media Post story. At an event discussing the fate of third-party cookies, Harvey Anderson, Mozilla’s senior VP-business and legal affairs, said, “There’s no constitutional right that allows people to modify my computer.”
But in the battle between the IAB and Mozilla, it sometimes gets lost how much marketers are dependent on cookies to target their messages. How dependent are they? A recent poll by Adotas asked, “What audience identification technology do you plan to be using by Q4 2013?”
Ninety-nine percent of marketers responded, “Cookies.”