Is Mozilla anti-business, led by 'techno-libertarians'?

In a long, somewhat rambling blog post, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg questioned whether Mozilla has lost its values about third party cookies.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) blasted Mozilla over its third party cookie blocking plans and said that the non-profit organization has an anti-business bent.

In a long, somewhat rambling blog post, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg questioned whether Mozilla has lost its values about third party cookies. Mozilla has been in the front of the cookie debate and teamed with Stanford to create a clearinghouse to track the digital footprints used to track you.

Public good or anti-business?

Mozilla planned to launch cookie blocking technology in Firefox, backed off and then wanted input from advertising, media and ad tech companies.

The IAB now argues that Mozilla's plans are worse than before. According to the IAB:

A review of Mozilla’s latest scheme for blocking third party cookies shows it to be worse than its earlier proposals. While Mozilla executives say they are taking in criticism from multiple stakeholders, the company’s own statements and explanations indicate that Mozilla is making extreme value judgments with extraordinary impact on the digital supply chain, securing for itself a significant gatekeeper position in which it and its handpicked minions will be able to determine which voices gain distribution and which do not on the Internet.

The IAB argues that cookies are part of the advertising and media supply chain and that its clearinghouse plans will result in too many false positives on its block list.

However, the main crux is that Mozilla is anti-business and led by radicals. Here's a choice quote:

But at least as telling as the presence of anti-business radicals on Mozilla’s “cookie court” is who and what is absent. There are no publishers on it - the people whose livelihoods depend on the sale of digital advertising. There are no executives from ad networks - the companies that are almost solely responsible for helping small publishers earn any income. There are no executives from brand marketers, ad agencies, retailers, e-tailers, or ad technology companies - not a single representative from an ecosystem responsible for creating 5.1 million jobs in and contributing $530 billion annually to the U.S. economy.


Perhaps worse is the organization’s blindness to its own potential, as it evolves inside a cocoon spun by techno-libertarians and academic elites who believe in liberty and freedom for all, as long as they get to decide the definitions of liberty and freedom. By dealing exclusively with the issue of controls around cookies, Mozilla is missing a great opportunity to talk about the options for identity management and safety in a larger scope. A solution that empowers consumer choice in both the mobile OS and desktop browser spaces would bring significantly more value to all involved parties, and allow Mozilla to promote thought leadership with its nascent Mobile OS.

The IAB could have a few good points, but Rothenberg's long post comes off as a diatribe that's unlikely to spur a whole lot of dialogue. Rothenberg's point that not all cookies are bad is well taken, but his diatribe is unlikely to elevate the conversation around privacy, cookies and commerce.