Mozilla Joins Forces with Stanford Group on Privacy Scheme

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 20, 2013

If you're like nearly everybody else, you get annoyed by how advertising cookies in your browser seem to know what your interests are and serve up creepy ads that hit a little too close to home. With that problem in mind, Mozilla has been steadily working toward standardizing Do Not Track features in the Firefix browser. The idea is not welcome to everyone, though. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has accused Mozilla of "undermining American small business" with the move.

This week, there has been much news surrounding Do Not Track proposals. The W3C has officially agreed to accept a draft of the standard and try to work toward Last Call, the stage where the proposed standard could be finally accepted. And, Stanford’s Center for Internet Society is launching a Cookie Clearinghouse that will oversee easy-to-use “allow lists” and “block lists” to help web surfers protect their privacy. Now, it appears that Mozilla will join forces with Stanford Center for Internet Society, potentially creating an enduring Internet privacy standard.

According to the Stanford announcement:

"To establish the 'allow list' and 'block list,' the Cookie Clearinghouse is consulting with an advisory board that will include individuals from browser companies including Mozilla and Opera Software, academic privacy researchers, as well as individuals with expertise in small businesses and in European law, and the advisory board will continue to grow over time. The Clearinghouse will also offer the public an opportunity to comment."

Mozilla's own work on Do Not Track features has imitated existing features in the Safari browser from Apple that prevents websites from tracking visitors. This week, Mozilla's Brandon Eich delivered a blog post about how Mozilla will work with Stanford's Cookie Clearinghouse on its ad-blocking efforts. 

He writes:

"I’m very pleased that Aleecia McDonald of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford has launched just such a list-based exception mechanism, the Cookie Clearinghouse (CCH)."

"Today Mozilla is committing to work with Aleecia and the CCH Advisory Board, whose members include Opera Software, to develop the CCH so that browsers can use its lists to manage exceptions to a visited-based third-party cookie block."

"The CCH proposal is at an early stage, so we crave feedback. This means we will hold the visited-based cookie-blocking patch in Firefox Aurora while we bring up CCH and its Firefox integration, and test them."

The Interenet Advertising Bureau is likely to continue to object to these plans.

According to a release from the IAB delivered back in March, reacting to Mozilla's original Do Not Track plans:

"The Interactive Advertising Bureau today accused the Mozilla Corporation, the technology giant whose Firefox web browser controls how a fifth of users worldwide access the internet, of undermining American small businesses and consumers’ ability to manage their own privacy, through planned changes to Firefox that would re-architect the way data flows between web sites and internet users."

"Joining a chorus of complaints from companies and industry groups around the world, the IAB, which represents 500 major U.S. internet companies and more than 1,000 small digital publishers, focused on Mozilla’s plans to block third-party cookies by default in the next version of the Firefox browser. The IAB pointed specifically to the impact the ban would have on small internet publishers, which depend on such cookie technology to sell advertising to niche audience segments."