How Firefox Is Becoming the TiVo of Internet Browsing

Pity this era's ad men and women. Each day brings new ways that techies are limiting our exposure to their pitches. Witness Firefox, the Mozilla Foundation browser that now automatically blocks "cookies" from third-party websites.

For the uninitiated, cookies are small blocks of code uploaded to a browser upon visiting a site. Some are quite helpful, like the cookies that recognize you returning to a site you love and log you in automatically as a result. Others are like trackers that hope to understand you so well that targeted ads get through.

According to trade magazine Computerworld, the latest edition of Firefox (version 22) would only block cookies unrelated to the website you're viewing at the time. Code related to sites you've already visited, and approve of, would also be allowed. Mozilla plans to formally unveil the new browser in June. Expect more than the usual rhetoric in the interim.

Advertisers hate the idea. At least two industry trade groups -- the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Association of National Advertisers -- strongly oppose the new setting, arguing that users of the browser will see more (and more irrelevant) ads as a result, Computerworld reports. Perhaps that's why Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  , and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) haven't taken similar steps with their own browsers?

Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova isn't so sure, arguing in the following video that the pattern is eerily similar to the reaction TV advertisers had when TiVo (NASDAQ: TIVO  ) first introduced time shifting and the ability to fast-forward through commercials. The industry has since adjusted, and it will here, too, Tim says.

Do you believe Mozilla is making the right move in blocking some cookies? Please watch and then leave a comment to let us know what you think of the plan and how you consume (or avoid) Internet advertising.

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  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 1:12 AM, Caspy7 wrote:

    Will this have the same effect as Tivo? I don't know. Advertisers may do something else short-sighted, like attempting to make life noticeably less pleasant for Firefox users somehow - which would likely backfire, driving more users to use adblocking addons.

    Unlike Tivo, I don't think that users will *feel* the beneficial effect as much as with commercial skipping. Though I suppose that doesn't negate the negative effect advertisers are perceiving.

    Do I believe Mozilla is making the right move in blocking these cookies? Definitely. These third party cookies are used primarily, if not entirely, to track me without my knowledge or consent and for the sole benefit and profit of someone else.

    Mozilla has a strong history of looking out for the security and privacy of its users and this is another case where they're staying true to that (despite attacks from the ad industry).

    Also, felt the need to mention, that third-party cookies are *not* blocked from sites which you have visited. So if you have been to Facebook, for instance, they can still track you.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 9:47 AM, DanManners wrote:

    First let me say, Microsoft likes to hurt their customers. Bigtime. I wrote to Steve Balmer and they answered me back and i emailed a letter telling why I felt Microsoft had big problems and what they need to do. I use XP in my business because my Unix Server won't work with new Unix versions that easy. Microsoft built in this incompatibility to hurt their competitors.

    Now they don't have an upgrade for XP with internet Explorer. You have to use 8. Not firefox. They upgrade and it works on XP. IE8 is so buggy. I have a Masters in Comptuer Science. I know how to disable add-ins. But I always get the IE message of low memory. Things hang forever. It is terrible.

    I have Windows 7. Same thing with IE9. Now I use Firefox. So much less buggy. It is not perfect as I like the Favorites Bar in IE much better. But IE is almost unusable.

    If software companies make their product hard to use with Firefox then it could hurt. But Norton and others will still consider Firefox for now. I think consumers will lead the way and protecting them is good. Remember, the developers could leave Firefox out but the customers could leave the developers out also.

    I am so annoyed at Microsoft for the damage they have done and their selfish ways, that I have now made a committment to be as free of them as I want to be of Verizon.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 11:51 AM, Michaelcu wrote:

    I have been a fan of FireFox since before MS's XP. Microsoft tried with an update to XP block Firefox. I have since went to windows 7. With the main reason I hate using IE on any level.

    I love the idea of FireFox blocking cookies. Every time I run my virus scan I get many "tracking" cookies with I delete. This new idea with just make it that more safer for users.

    The ad industry will just have to suck it up and change how it does business.

    Thank you Mozilla for thinking of the user first. Another reason I will tell my customers to use Firefox. Not google or IE. IE is one of the most dangerous browsers from the security stand point there is. I should mention. I am a computer service tech. 55% of my income is from restoring systems after viruses are downloaded. Mostly by "uninformed" customers.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 12:55 PM, Sonny1965 wrote:

    I use Firefox exclusively for that very reason of ad-blocking. I get bombarded enough by the advertizing industry in mags, on radio and cable and even when calling businesses that use the computerized answering systems. I have installed all of FF third party and cookie blocking into my browser and you would be surprised at how much space is wasted for those ads/pop-ups. I thank FF for building a browser with these features and hope they NEVER sell out to the greedy Corps!

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 1:12 PM, RedClawRaptor wrote:

    Firefox with DoNotTrackMe active is just great for taking out all of the targeted advertising. Now the targeted advertising space is just white space and not the annoying advertising you get because you bought a gift on line that you would not have purchased for your self. The tracking by Google, who has no compunction about sharing your browsing history, shows just how aggressive they are. I, for one, do not like being tracked. The results are very annoying. The tracking reports show how big the tracking business model is. Tracking, to me, is akin to telemarketing which is richly annoying, and prompts a report to the Secretary of State of my state, who manages this state's Do Not Call List.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 3:18 PM, CajunJarhead wrote:

    Used FF for over a decade now and am glad to see they are staying true to their commitment to users.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 8:17 PM, icecoldvx wrote:

    Apple is currently blocking 3rd party cookies. They've been doing so since 2009. Research your facts please.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 9:31 PM, retrovisiontv wrote:

    I'd like to point out that the ad companies "adapting" to the Tivo wasn't painless. TV has taken a beating. Popular shows are being cancelled because there isn't a way to monetize them. Sponsors know you're not gonna watch live and skip the commercials.

    As a professional webmaster, I see the same thing. When push comes to shove, you might wish you had accepted the ad cookies and the ads.

    The alternative to ads is not no ads. Eventually the alternative to no ads is no webs.

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