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DAA: Mozilla Cookie-Blocking Could Destabilize Ad Ecosystem

The Digital Advertising Alliance says that Mozilla's decision to "summarily block the vast majority of third-party cookies" threatens to destabilize the online ad "ecosystem."

"Beyond jeopardizing the amount and quality of content available to users, the plan also threatens to immediately diminish the user experience, by breaking services and tools upon which online businesses and users depend," DAA said in a statement.

Mozilla had a different take on its announcement. "The news is that Mozilla is joining Stanford's Cookie Clearinghouse project to help create a more effective method for managing third-party cookies in the browser," a spokesman for the company said. "We currently have a patch in our Aurora testing build that blocks third-party cookies by default, and we intend for Cookie Clearinghouse to address some problems we've identified with that. There would be months of testing before any changes are made to the general release of Firefox."

There were some initial reports that Mozilla was also joining Microsoft in making Do Not Track a default setting on its browser. But the spokesman said that "there is no modification to the current status of Do Not Track in Firefox preferences."

That did not seem to make the pill any easier for digital advertisers to swallow. "Neither Congress, nor law enforcement, nor any government agency have asked for the draconian measures that Mozilla is planning to implement," DAA said.

Congress may not have asked, but one leading senator was putting his hands together. "This is welcome news from Mozilla," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.). "It proves there's a market for giving consumers strong privacy protections, and demonstrates that developers are eager to do this.

"With major Web browsers now starting to provide privacy protections by default, it's even more important to give businesses the regulatory certainty they need and consumers the privacy protections they deserve. I hope this will end the emerging back and forth so we can act quickly to pass new legislation."

In March, Rockefeller reintroduced legislation that would require companies who collect personal information online to get the affirmative permission of the person whose information is being collected.