In an email sent to AdExchanger, Eich continued, "We are not instituting this change 'in the next version of the Firefox browser,' as the IAB claims, nor do we have any intentions to harm small businesses or the consumer online experience. As with all our new Firefox features, there will be months of evaluating technical input from our users and the community before the new policy enters our Aurora, Beta and General release versions of Firefox. This will stay in our 'Nightly' build until we are satisfied with the user experience."
Mike Zaneis, SVP and general counsel of the IAB, noted that Mozilla did push for Do Not Track through the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). But, he told AdExchanger, "When they failed to get what they wanted there, they took their ball and went home and decided to impose a technical restriction on their user base."
This restriction, he explained, will impact not only larger publishers and advertisers, who rely on third-party companies to sell remnant ads and track data and analytics, but especially small- to medium-sized online businesses.
"This idea of how it impacts the digital supply chain [is important]. This takes away the ability to measure the effectiveness of online ad campaigns, because virtually all analytics are done by third parties," he said. "Everybody will feel pain, but if you're just a small publisher, you don't have an ad sales team or have the ability to knock on Procter & Gamble's door; you are 100% dependent on third parties to sell your inventory. Those small companies are disproportionally hurt."
And the IAB isn't the only organization speaking out against Mozilla and its planned changes.
During an afternoon session at the 4A's Transformation: The Idea Effect conference, Dick O'Brien, EVP, director of Government Relations for the ad agency trade group, interviewed Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen about privacy and the state of the industry self-regulation.
"At one point does it start becoming noticeable to the government that the unilateral blocking of the collection of cookie data is a potential violation of trade and competition?" O'Brien asked.
"Where the lines are drawn can have implications for competition," Ohlhausen responded. "One of the things I have always been interested in is the value of advertising for consumers. And consumers certainly get a lot of information about lower prices and quality. So one of my concerns is setting up the regimes where there's a big conglomerate that has control over a lot of data... I'm raising these issues, not answering them."
As the industry raises these issues and brings to light its concerns, only time will tell how these opinions will impact Mozilla and Firefox 22.
"There's a lot of time and process between now and when Firefox version 22 is supposed to come out," Zaneis said. "We hope these arguments will be heard by the leadership of Mozilla."
David Kaplan contributed to this piece, with reporting from the 4A's conference.