Ad industry furious at Mozilla for letting users control cookies

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) appears to have lost its marbles when it comes to the open source browser Mozilla’s anti-tracking features.

Ignoring the fact that users are concerned about companies spying on them, the IAB has been attacking Mozilla on the grounds that the latter had “lost its values” because it insisted on defending the users’ rights to control how cookies were used on their systems.

The implication is that if your browser refuses to hand over all your personal data to advertisers there must be something wrong with it.

The IAB is a trade organisation that represents marketing and advertising companies in the States and Europe.

After the IAB received much abuse for its stand you would have expected marketers to have given up and waited for the dust to settle on the whole privacy debate.

Instead, the IAB placed a full-page ad (PDF) in Advertising Age calling for people to stop “Mozilla from Hijacking the Internet”.

The advert claims that you can only find what you want on the internet because of advertising cookies.

The IAB claims Mozilla wants to eliminate the same cookies that enable advertisers to reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.

What Mozilla is actually doing is letting the user control cookies, and stop those from websites you haven’t actually visited being dumped on your system.

Rather than eliminating cookies, Mozilla is giving the user control over annoying advertisements for stuff you don’t want.

But the IAB says what Mozilla is doing is not in the interest of privacy.

“It’s about helping some business models gain a marketplace advantage and reducing competition,” the advert says.

But hang on, this is Mozilla we are talking about. The IAB claims that these open source coders, dedicated to overthrowing the man with free coding, are helping someone play monopoly – the whole point of Mozilla was to kill off a Microsoft monopoly.

The IAB claims that consumers already have control over whether they receive interest-based ads through the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory programme.

This is news to us. This programme appears to be designed to promote better advertising rather than helping consumers out.

All this is a huge PR own goal of the sort that is usually only tried by the content industry against pirates. After reading the advert you can’t help but want to immediately download Firefox and disable all cookies.