Earth to Mozilla: Come back home

Inmoz her blog post explaining the Brendan Eich resignation, Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, writes, “We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.” In Mozilla is HumanMark Surman, Executive Director of the Foundation, adds, “What we also need to do is start a process of rebirth and renewal. We need to find our soul and our spirit.”

That spirit is embodied in the Mozilla Manifesto. But it goes deeper than that: all the way back to Mosaic, the ur-browser from which Firefox is descended by way of Netscape Navigator.

Neither Mosaic nor Navigator were instruments of the advertising business. They were boards we rode to surf from site to site across oceans of data, and cars we drove down the information superhighway.

But now all major browsers, Firefox included, have become shopping carts that get re-skinned at every commercial site they visit, and infected at many of those sites by cookies and other tracking files that report our activities back to advertising mills, all the better to “personalize” our “experience” of advertising and other “content.”

Economically speaking, Firefox is an instrument of advertising, and not just a vehicle for users. Because, at least indirectly, advertising is Firefox’s business model. Chrome’s too. (Apple and Microsoft have much smaller stakes in advertising, and offer browsers mostly for other reasons.)

This has caused huge conflicts for Mozilla. On the one hand they come from the users’ side. On the other, they need to stay in business — and the only one around appears to be advertising. And the market there is beyond huge.

But so is abuse of users by the advertising industry. This is made plain by the popularity of Adblock Plus (Firefox and Chrome’s #1 add-on by a huge margin) and other instruments of prophylaxis against both advertising and tracking (e.g. Abine, Disconnect, Ghostery and Privowny, to name a few).

To align with this clear expression of market demand, Mozilla made moves in February 2013 to block third party cookies (which Apple’s Safari, which doesn’t depend on advertising, does by default). The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) split a gut, and began playing hardball. Some links:

That last item — an extensive bill of particulars — featured this sidebar:

The link goes to An Open Letter to the Mozilla Corporation.

So Mozilla looked for common ground, and they found it on the advertising side, with personalization. Near as I can tell, this  began in May 2013 (I’m told since I wrote this that work began earlier), with Jay Sullivan‘s Personalization With Respect post. In July, Justin Scott, then a Product Manager at Mozilla Labs, vetted A User Personalization Proposal for Firefox. The post was full of language straight out of the ad industry songbook: “favorite brands,” “personalized experience,” “increased engagement,” “stronger loyalty.” Blowback in the comments was fierce:

JS:

I don’t care what publishers want, or that they really like this new scheme to increase their marketing revenue. Don’t add more tracking.

I’m beginning to realize that Mozilla is working to make Firefox as attractive to publishers as possible, while forgetting that those eyeballs looking at their ads could be attached to people who don’t want to be targeted. Stop it. Remember your roots as a “we’ll take Mozilla’s code, and make a great thing with it”, and not as “Google pays us to be on the default toolbar”.

Dragonic Overlord:

Absolutely terrible idea.

The last thing the internet needs is more “personalization” (read: “invasion of my privacy”). All your marketing jargon does nothing to hide the fact that this is just another tool to allow advertisers, website owners, the NSA, and others to track users online habits and, despite any good intentions you might have, it’s rife with the potential for abuse.

Tracy Licklider:

Bad idea. I do not want it. I think you misstate the benefits of the Internet. One of the most salient benefits of the Internet is for web sites, advertisers, and ISPs who are able to build dossiers about individuals’ private lives/data, generally without most users being aware of the possibility and generally without the users’ consent.

One of the main reasons Firefox has succeeded is that it, unlike all the other browsers, was dedicated to users unfettered, secure, and as private as possible use of the Internet.

User:

If this “feature” becomes part of FireFox you’ll loose many users, if we wanted Chrome like browser we wouldn’t have chosen FireFox. We chose FireFox because it was DIFFERENT FROM Chrome but lately all I see is changes that make it similar and now you want to put spyware inside? Thanks but no thanks.

A follow-up post in July, by Harvey Anderson, Senior VP Business and Legal Affairs at Mozilla, was titled Up With People, and laid on even more of the same jive, this time without comments. In December Justin posted User Personalization Update, again with no comments.

Then in February, Darren Herman, Mozilla’s VP Content Services, posted Publisher Transformation With Users at the Center, introducing two new programs.  One was User Personalization. (Darren’s link goes Justin’s July piece.) The other was something called “directory tiles” that will appear on Firefox’s start page. He wasn’t explicit about selling ads in the tiles, but the implication was clear, both from blowback in the comments and from coverage in other media.

Said Reuters, “Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Internet browser, will start selling ads as it tries to grab a larger slice of the fast-expanding online advertising market.”

Romain Dillet in TechCrunch wrote, “For the last couple of years, Mozilla and the advertising industry have been at odds. The foundation created the do-not-track feature to prevent targeted advertising. When users opt in, the browser won’t accept third party cookies anymore, making it much harder to display targeted ads around the web. Last year, Mozilla even chose to automatically block third-party cookies from websites that you hadn’t visited. Now, Mozilla wants to play ball with advertisers.”

The faithful didn’t like it. In Daring Fireball, John Gruber wrote, “What a pile of obtuse horseshit. If you want to sell ads, sell ads. Own it. Don’t try to coat it with a layer of frosting and tell me it’s a fucking cupcake.”

Then Mitchell issued a corrective blog post, titled Content, Ads, Caution. Here’s an excerpt:

When we have ideas about how content might be useful to people, we look at whether there is a revenue possibility, and if that would annoy people or bring something potentially useful.  Ads in search turn out to be useful.  The gist  of the Tiles idea is that we would include something like 9 Tiles on a page, and that 2 or 3 of them would be sponsored — aka “ads.”  So to explicitly address the question of whether sponsored tiles (aka “ads”) could be included as part of a content offering, the answer is yes.

These sponsored results/ ads would not have tracking features.

Why would we include any sponsored results?  If the Tiles are useful to people then we’ll generate value.  That generates revenue that supports the Mozilla project.   So to explicitly address the question of whether we care about generating revenue and sustaining Mozilla’s work, the answer is yes.  In fact, many of us feel responsible to do exactly this.

Clearly Mozilla wants to continue down the advertising path, which many of its most passionate users don’t like. This position makes sense, given Mozilla.com‘s need to make money — somehow — and stay alive.

By becoming an advertising company (in addition to everything else it is), Mozilla now experiences a problem that has plagued ad-supported media for the duration: its customers and consumers are different populations. I saw it in when I worked in commercial broadcasting, and I see it today in the online world with Google, Facebook, Twitter… and Mozilla. The customers (or at least the main ones) are either advertisers or proxies for them (Google in Mozilla’s case). The consumers are you and me.

The difference with Mozilla is that it didn’t start out as an advertising company. So becoming one involves a change of nature — a kind of Breaking Bad.

It hurts knowing that Mozilla is the only browser-maker that comes from our side, and wants to stay here, and treat us right. Apple clearly cares about customers (witness the success of their stores, and customer service that beats all the competition’s), but its browser, Safari, is essentially a checkbox item. Same goes for Microsoft, with Explorer. Both are theirs, not ours. Opera means well, but it’s deep in fifth place, with a low single-digit market share. Google’s Chrome is a good browser, but also built to support Google’s advertising-based business model. But only Mozilla has been with us from the start. And now here they are, trying their best not to talk like they’ve been body-snatched by the IAB.

And it’s worse than just that.

In addition to the Brendan Eich mess, Mozilla is coping with losing three of its six board members (who left before Brendan resigned). Firefox’s market share is also declining: from 20.63% in May 2013 to 17.68% in February 2014, according to NetMarketShare.com. (Other numbers here.)

Is it just a coincidence that May 2013 is also when Jay Sullivan made that first post, essentially announcing Mozilla’s new direction, toward helping the online advertising industry? Possibly. But that’s not what matters.

What matters is that Mozilla needs to come back  home: to Earth, where people live, and where the market is a helluva lot bigger than just advertising. I see several exciting paths for getting back. Here goes.

1) Offer a choice of browsers.

Keep Firefox free and evolving around an advertising-driven model.

And introduce a new one, built on the same open source code base, but fully private, meaning that it’s the person’s own, to be configured any way they please — including many new ways not even thinkable for a browser built to work for advertisers. Let’s call this new browser PrivateFox. (Amazingly, PrivateFox.org was an available domain name until I bought it last night. I’ll be glad to donate it to Mozilla.)

Information wants to be free, but value wants to be paid for. Since PrivateFox would have serious value for individuals, it would have a price tag. Paying for PrivateFox would make individuals actual customers rather than just “users,” “consumers,” “targets” and an “audience.” Mozilla could either make the payment voluntary, as with public radio and shareware, or it could make the browser a subscription purchase. That issue matters far less than the vast new market opportunities that open when the customer is truly in charge: something we haven’t experienced in the nineteen years that have passed since the first commercial websites went up.

PrivateFox would have privacy by design from the start: not just in the sense of protecting people from unwelcome surveillance; but in the same way we are private when we walk about the marketplace in the physical world. We would have the digital equivalent of clothing to hide the private parts of our virtual bodies. We would also be anonymous by default — yet equipped with wallets, purses, and other instruments for engagement with the sellers of the world.

With PrivateFox, we will be able to engage all friendly sites and sellers in ways that we choose, and on terms of our choosing as well. (Some of those terms might actually be more friendly than those one-sided non-agreements we submit to all the time without reading. For more on what can be done on the legal front, read this.)

(Yes, I know that Netscape failed at trying to charge for its browser way back in the early days. But  times were different. What was a mistake back then could be a smart move today.)

2) Crowdsource direct funding from individuals.

That’s a tall order — several hundred million dollars’ worth — but hey, maybe it can be done. I’d love to see an IndieGoGo (or equivalent) campaign for “PrivateFox: The World’s First Fully Private Browser. Goal: $300 million.”

3) Build intentcasting into Firefox as it stands.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) calls it “broadcast shopping”. He explains:

Shopping is broken. In the fifties, if you wanted to buy a toaster, you only had a few practical choices. Maybe you went to the nearest department store and selected from the three models available. Or maybe you found your toaster in the Sears catalog. In a way, you were the hunter, and the toaster was the prey. You knew approximately where it was located, and you tracked it down and bagged it. Toasters couldn’t hide from you.

Now you shop on the Internet, and you can buy from anywhere on the planet. The options for any particular purchase approach infinity, or so it seems. Google is nearly worthless when shopping for items that don’t involve technology. It is as if the Internet has become a dense forest where your desired purchases can easily hide.

Advertising is broken too, because there are too many products battling for too little consumer attention. So ads can’t hope to close the can’t-find-what-I-want gap.

The standard shopping model needs to be reversed. Instead of the shopper acting as hunter, and the product hiding as prey, you should be able to describe in your own words what sort of thing you are looking for, and the vendors should use those footprints to hunt you down and make their pitch.

There are many ways of doing this. More than a dozen appear under “Intentcasting” in this list of VRM developers. Some are under wraps, but have huge potential.

Intentcasting sets a population comprised of 100% qualified leads loose in the marketplace, all qualifying their lead-ness on their own terms. This will be hugely disruptive to the all-guesswork business that cherishes a 1% click-through rate in “impressions” that mostly aren’t — and ignores the huge negative externalities generated by a 99+% failure rate. It will also generate huge revenues, directly.

This would be a positive, wealth-creating move that should make everybody (other than advertising mill-keepers) happy. Even advertisers.  Trust me: I know. I co-founded and served as Creative Director for Hodskins Simone & Searls, one of Silicon Valley’s top ad agencies for the better part of two decades. Consider this fact: No company that advertises defines themselves as “an advertiser.” They have other businesses. Advertising might be valuable to them, but it’s still just a line item on the expense side of the balance sheet. They can cut or kill it any time they want.

“Buy on the sound of cannons, sell on the sound of trumpets,” Lord Nathan Rothschild said. For the last few years advertising has been one giant horn section, blasting away. If online advertising isn’t a bubble (which I believe it is), it at least qualifies as a mania. And it is the nature of manias to pass.

Business-wise, investing in an advertising strategy isn’t a bad bet for Mozilla right now. But the downsides are real and painful. Mozilla can reduce that pain by two ways:

  1. Join Don Marti, Bob Hoffman (the Ad Contrarian) and others (myself included) who are working to separate chaff from wheat within the advertising business — notably between the kind of advertising that’s surveillance-based and the kind that isn’t. Obviously Mozilla will be working on the latter. Think about what you would do to fix online advertising. Mozilla, I am sure, is thinking the same way.
  2. Place bets on the demand side of the marketplace, and not just — like everybody else — on the supply side.

Here on Earth we have a landing site for Mozilla, where the above and many other ideas can be vetted and hashed out with the core constituency: IIW, the Internet Identity Workshop. It’s an inexpensive three-day unconference that runs twice every year in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the Computer History Museum: an amazing venue.

Phil Windley, Kaliya Hamlin and I have been putting on IIW since 2005. We’ve done seventeen so far, and it’s impossible to calculate how far sessions there have moved forward the topics that come up, all vetted and led by participants.

Here’s one topic I promise to raise on Day One: How can we help Mozilla? Lots of Mozilla folk have been at IIWs in the past. This time participating will have more leverage than ever.

I want to see lots of lizards and lizard-helpers there.

[Later...] Darren has put up this insightful and kind post about #VRM and The Intention Economy (along with @garyvee‘s The Thank You Economy). I’ve also learned that lizards will indeed be coming to both VRM Day and IIW. Jazzed about that.

 

31 comments

  1. LindmanX7’s avatar

    Take a look to this blog of an anonymous staying Mozilla employee who fears otherwise to be expelled from the organization.

    That guy mentions also the ads stuff, and he is writing in a believable way. According to this guy it is not only the ads stuff which harms Mozilla.

    It is the total influence of Third party organizations which seem to have a massive amount of control over Mozillas developement and decision process.

    Goes for ads and the new UI which they are planning.

    http://darrningram.wordpress.com/

    Very interesting read and the word about this should be spread further!

  2. Roland’s avatar

    Is Mozilla a foundation or a corporation? Foundations can accept donations (say from Google) but they need to have no strings attached, or else they are actually payola.
    http://thehackerspost.com/2013/12/how-google-tracking-you-through-firefox-in-the-name-of-safe-browsing.html
    The purpose of a corporation is to increase profits. The purpose of a foundation, ISN’T! So what is their purpose? I don’t think they know.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Roland, Mozilla is both a foundation and a corporation. It’s complicated (and maybe I should do a better job of unpacking it in the post), but Wikipedia lays it out pretty well:

    Mozilla the free software community.

    Mozilla.org, the nonprofit

    Mozilla.com, the commercial entity

    I think this shows something of a branding problem. When Red Hat split its work, it created Fedora as a separate .org. I think in this case it might have been better for Mozilla.org to have created its .com wing as a separate brand.

    When I have time I’ll go back over the post to make clearer what the distinctions are.

  4. Julian Bond’s avatar

    I remember, many years ago our good friend Dave Winer suggested a customised advert channel via RSS. I’d still like this providing there’s a feedback mechanism for me to say “Love, Hate, Ignore” or “more like this one, less like that one”. Apart from the fact I never ever see ads these days, I also fancied a standardised set of buttons on banner and AdSense ads where I could say the same thing. Let me give you a bit more feedback than just failing to click.

    Yes, I’d also like a reverse eBay. “This is what I want, please compete to sell it to me.” It might well be tricky though to manage the spam problem.

    Finally, for small publishers, the Ad model is still broken. Adsense pays pocket money. Agencies aren’t interested in anything but big brands and big publishers. Anything under 1m impressions a month and there’s no money. This is a ripe market for disruption but after all these years (decades now) of the internet nobody has solved it. Ads are a 3 cornered stool of Advertiser, Agency and Publisher but nobody wants to talk about what’s good for the Publisher because they are the cost base not the profit base. But without the publisher there is no advertising. And Google skews this completely because they are the publisher as well as being the agency.

  5. mike’s avatar

    I’m not too smart about the Internet, but someone enlightened me on the advertising model by explaining that I’m not the customer of Google, Mozilla et. al., I am their product, and that, because the Internet (or perhaps, more accurately, the Web), is not at all “free” — someone has to pay for it, or it would cease to exist — my commoditization is the price of admission.

    Let’s all admit that Google is a wonderful tool, but it could not afford to pay all the big salaries of it’s Do-No-Evilers (who, despite their wish to have you believe they’re in it for the good of mankind, would jump ship in a second if they had the chance to snag a chunk of a hot new start-up) without the filthy advertising lucre. We use it because it’s arguably the best at what it does, suspicions about the order in which results are presented notwithstanding.

    We were told, a decade or two back, that all those open-source geeks were fashioning 21st century economic rules by programming for free. It was a brave, new economic order of smiling coders living on Jolt and Altoids and churning out great code free of commercial contamination. Bullshit. Maybe that’s what they thought they were doing, but where has all the good “free” stuff gone? Oh, yeah, much of it is crippleware “community” editions that only really seem to work when you “upgrade” to the “pro” version. Many, if not most, of the zillions of “projects” that were going to deliver the world’s best recipe organizers or some such mundane drivel have withered and died as their idealistic founders figured something out — a realization that didn’t dawn on them while their parents fed and clothed them — they got hungry and groceries aren’t free (at least not after Mom & Dad sat them down for “the talk”)*.

    Now, I gag at having my “experience customized” as well. I block ads, and when I can’t, I ignore them. I never click on “sponsored links” or anything else that I think is going to bring revenue to the evil capitalists who want to package me and sell me. But that’s because I’m a miserable asshole. The rest of you should wise up and realize that it’s the dogged pursuit of those pennies-per-click that brings you the content, and if you think you have a better model, bring it, but going down the “great software for free” track has been tried. It didn’t work.

    *Ok, I paint with a broad brush to make a point. There is fabulous software (e.g., R) out there for “free”, if you count as “free” the time of the public-payroll academics or big-corporation contributers whose salaries are bundled into either your taxes or the cost of products you buy.

  6. private’s avatar

    It is time for another fork of the codebase.

    Inside or outside of Mozilla.

  7. Beast’s avatar

    I will never use Firefox, or any Mozilla product, again after their recent display of intolerance.

  8. Earl Grey’s avatar

    Some very interesting and somewhat creative ideas.
    I was a diehard Mozilla fan and the thought of using another browser never entered my head.
    I don’t care about cookies, do not track or political stuff about who funded what.
    One day i tried chrome when i had a broken install of Firefox on a computer and unfortunately i fell in love with it.
    that’s all i have to say on the subject.

  9. Walter McGrain’s avatar

    I fail to see what the problem is here. Firefox is fully customizable to provide exactly the sort of privacy you’re asking for: just install AdBlock, Ghostery, etc. What more do you need?

    The fact that Mozilla has allowed Firefox to be so open to customization through Add-ons is sufficient.

  10. Katherine Warman Kern’s avatar

    Doc,

    This is brilliant: “Information wants to be free, but value wants to be paid for.” along with your recommendation: “introduce a new one, built on the same open source code base, but fully private, meaning that it’s the person’s own, to be configured any way they please — including many new ways not even thinkable for a browser built to work for advertisers. Let’s call this new browser PrivateFox.”

    We are beginning to see value in a better “third party” and the timing is right to go beyond “freedom of information” to the next imperative. Who knows what that is exactly. But we are realizing that when information is free, it is not necessarily trustworthy.

    Credibility/trust is the fulcrum upon which a marketplace maintains balance and can happily whirl through its cycles for the mutual benefit of all.

    Without it the economy continues to wobble out of control.

    Yours,
    K-

  11. VanillaMozilla’s avatar

    PrivateFox. Excellent idea. When can I buy it?

  12. Boris Mann’s avatar

    I’ve long wanted Mozilla to get into non-ad businesses. One that could be huge is an AppStore. Being a trusted host of identity & payment, helping developers get paid for web apps, promoting a direct payment / non-ad revenue stream. The opportunity is huge.

    Of course, being a safe & secure host for identity & payment is a huge task. Are they afraid of centralizing that much info?

  13. Doc Searls’s avatar

    LindmanX7, I believe the blog post you’re talking about is this one by Darrin Ingram. Am I right about that?

    Obviously Mozilla is torn internally. But (now speaking to Beast) the answer isn’t to abandon it. We should help.

  14. Boris’s avatar

    LindmanX7, speaking as a Mozilla employee that blog you link to does not look like the blog of an actual employee. For one thing, actual employees know they can disagree with the leadership in public without being fired, and do it all the time…

  15. Mesothelioma Law Firm’s avatar

    Absolutely terrible idea.

    The last thing the internet needs is more “personalization” (read: “invasion of my privacy”). All your marketing jargon does nothing to hide the fact that this is just another tool to allow advertisers, website owners, the NSA, and others to track users online habits and, despite any good intentions you might have, it’s rife with the potential for abuse.

    visit my blog  http://www.mesothelioma-law-firm.co/]

  16. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Julian, great summary.

    I had forgotten about Dave’s idea, but maybe we can bring Dave in on meetings with Mozilla in New York to talk about what can be done with RSS as a new message channel. The ad folk are always talking about “your favorite brands” as if everybody has some. I believe most people don’t, but surely many do. (In fashion and sports, for example.) How about “Subscribe to your favorite brands” through RSS?

    Also +1 on “reverse eBay.” That’s intentcasting, personal RFP, MeCommerce. Other names too, I’m sure.

    And agreed on the rap about small publishers. I didn’t even know ad-supported websites were called “publishers” by the ad industry until I heard it uttered by some Mozilla folk over drinks. I mean, it’s true, technically. Dave and others have always maintained that we’re all publishers here. But I think the IABs of the world are crying crocodile tears when they weep about “saving” the small publisher when in fact most of those publishers only get what you call “pocket money” from advertising (brand and/or adtech), and the big money is all in the short head rather than the long tail.

    Google also is an anomaly.

    BTW, lately my Facebook ads have had fewer false positives (pitches for under-30 singles, cheating on my wife, vacations where I’ll never go, getting together with classmates from a year I didn’t graduate, etc.) and more bulls-eyes or close enough (photography, weight loss, location-based hits e.g. Santa Barbara and NYC, musicians and venues) — some of which I am sure is gleaned from outside Facebook itself. In other words, uncanny valley stuff. While I’m sure that looks like success to them, it makes me want to go there even less than I already do.

  17. LindmanX7’s avatar

    Doc, yeah i do. I really love this blog, it made things about Mozilla much more clear to me. That guy has made today another post as it seems, but after that one.. i do not know if i want to support Mozilla at all anymore…

    http://darrningram.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/mozilla-and-australis-and-fair-play/

    A company which gives up a lot of freedom towards Google and makes a customizable UI into a Chrome one… that is not Mozilla anymore for me. Hopefully Seamonkey stays without Google influence.

  18. Doc Searls’s avatar

    LindmanX7, I would cut Mozilla slack here. While Darrin opens one window into internal conflicts within the organization, it can’t be the only one. And every organization like this one has lots of internal conflicts, political axe-grinding and so on.

    Even if he is completely right, that shouldn’t be a reason to abandon Mozilla.

    An additional note: his main gripe seems to be that Firefox is starting to look and feel too much like Chrome, and that it’s giving users reasons to switch to Chrome.

    I’m a user and typing this in Chrome right now. I also have Firefox open, and could as easily be writing this there. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there should be enough consistencies between browsers that the base experience is the same (like driving a car or riding a bike) and enough differences that users have reasons to prefer one over the other for certain things (such as using one car for commuting and another for hauling stuff around). “Switching” isn’t a factor here. AND logic applies, not OR.

    Speaking again as a user, I would prefer that the rounded corners of tabs in Firefox look different from those in Chrome (one of Darrin’s issues, I gather); but not that they look exactly the same. As for the rest of it, I’d rather dig a lot more before I form hard opinions about it.

  19. grizzled IT pro’s avatar

    Doc,

    When people see “Firefox” and “advertising” in the same sentence, they understandably become alarmed. I fear that alarm, combined with Mozilla’s usual poor public communication, undermines a very innovative solution to the tracking problem that may be the best hope for privacy.

    Tracking users will happen. Unless an airtight, enforceable federal law is passed then there is no escape (and then what about companies outside the US that do the tracking?). If Mozilla creates an effective technical defense to current tracking methods, then the trackers will just use a different technology; they have plenty of money on the line and technically it would very difficult to stop — consider the response to merely blocking 3rd party cookies. (Adblock Plus works because not enough people use it to significantly affect revenue.) Also, many people do like the benefits of tracking and don’t mind the tradeoff (I’m not one of them!).

    The only solution is to meet the needs of all stakeholders, including the advertisers, the privacy-seeking users, the users who want tracking, and the users who don’t care. Mozilla’s solution does this by putting the tracking data in the users’ hands and giving them the choice. If you don’t want to share it, then it won’t be shared. End-user control is one of the fundamental principals of the Internet and of privacy.

    Also, if Mozilla successfully creates this infrastructure, with each end-user controlling their own tracking data, then it can be used for all advertisers. They no longer will have an excuse to track users indiscriminately when a viable alternative is available. And if some/many users don’t want to share tracking data with them, then the trackers can’t really argue with that clearly expressed choice. Now trackers claim almost universal acceptance because opting out is so difficult.

    If in your alarm you shoot down this solution, what better one will you find, and who but Mozilla can implement it on such a large scale? It’s not exactly what you want, but it gives you everything you desire and just might work politically.

  20. Mats Palmgren’s avatar

    Doc, FYI, this “Darrin Ingram” is not a Mozilla employee, it’s a fake made up by Roland Haslinger (probably the same Roland that posted in the comments here).
    It wouldn’t surprise me if LindmanX7 is the same guy spreading misinformation…

    Kyle Huey exposed him here:
    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/mozilla.governance/AMrFcux1IMQ/zrE7MbC8yskJ

  21. Nikhil’s avatar

    I should just point out that Darrin Ingram is not a Mozilla employee. He may be a contributor, but I can’t seem to find him in the commit logs for mozilla-central either.

  22. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Mats and Boris.

    LindmanX7, are you Roland Haslinger?

  23. Evan’s avatar

    I’d support a fork, but don’t call it “PrivateFox”, that’s a tacit acknowledgement that the worldview of people who say stuff like “content” and call you a “consumer” is the standard. You’d then have “PrivateFox” and presumably “regular Firefox”. A user being in control of their own desktop software is NOT the special case!

  24. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, grizzled IT Pro.

    FWIW, I don’t want to shoot down any solution. And some that I’m learning about are pretty close to the one you’re describing.

  25. Jule’s avatar

    Am I informed right and was it the ceo, brendan eich, who made the donation? Because it seems like everyone’s blaming the whole company mozilla for this donation.

  26. DarrnIngramHoax’s avatar

    To be exactly clear, Darrn Ingram is a hoax which was planned and orchestrated by 2 persons. It was April and that situation was way too tempting not to use it for a little hoax.

    http://youhavebeenhoaxed.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/darrn-ingram-hoax-we-got-you-d/

    If you are interested, take a read. Sorry for creating trouble, but again, A situation like that was perfect for this hoax.

    And we should have ended it already quite a while earlier.

  27. Chris Peterson’s avatar

    Doc: LindmanX7 and Roland Haslinger and “Darrin Ingram” are all the same person. And none of them are Mozilla employees. He has been promoting his fake blog on Mozilla’s mailing lists using the alias DeloreanXX7 and an email address linked to the name “Roland Haslinger” elsewhere:

    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/mozilla.governance/AMrFcux1IMQ/BZae2GiQuDEJ

    Also note that LindmanX7′s messages use the same writing style as DeloreanXX7 and Darrin Ingram’s blog, such as sentences ending with multiple periods… and capitalizing random words like “Third party”.

    (I am a Mozilla employee.)

  28. J.S. Golem’s avatar

    “I” surf all the time. Try selling “me” something, dummy. Try customizing “my” experience. “I” am a Golem. “My” owner created “me”. Heh.

  29. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Lindman/Roland/Whomever,

    The one thing you’re right about, here and at YouHaveBeenHoaxed, is that you’ve wasted people’s time.

    For your next hoax, at least make it funny. What you did here was just lame.

    And thanks, Chris, Mats and Nikhil, for digging up the facts.

    BTW, I’ll be meeting with some Mozilla folk here in New York this (Friday, 18 April) morning. Excited about it.

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