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Mozilla Fights For Online Privacy, Loses. Miserably.

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A fantastic piece out of the Wall Street Journal confirms what every Internet user has already kind-of-sort-of known all along: online privacy does not exist, and any attempt to make it exist will only lead to greater assaults on your privacy.

The report starts off with what feels like a smidgen of good news: Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, is exploring a new mechanism that would allow Internet users to avoid being monitored online by data-collecting advertising companies.

Which sounds great.

Only problem is that Mozilla tried this before, and the effort was met with such heavy resistance from the ad-industry that the whole thing was scrapped.

That’s when things get creepy.

The WSJ reports:

In May, Mozilla engineer Dan Witte proposed a mechanism that caused cookies to automatically expire when a user closed his or her Web browser. (By comparison, most tracking cookies last for years). It only affected tracking cookies—not cookies that websites use to remember users' passwords or shopping cart information.

Mr. Witte's proposal was inserted into a developers' version of the Firefox browser on May 28. By early June, however, the news trickled out to advertising industry executive Simeon Simeonov.

Mr. Simeonov is the co-founder of a company, Better Advertising, that provides technology to online-ad companies. When he heard about the change, Mr. Simeonov said he worried it "would have broad, unforeseen impact on the consumer experience and perhaps even on the Web ecosystem."

Mr. Simeonov reached out to the chief executive of Mozilla, who put him in touch with Jay Sullivan, vice president of products at Mozilla. The two spoke on June 9. Mr. Sullivan said Mr. Simeonov expressed concern that the change would prompt advertisers to "go underground" to conduct even more surreptitious forms of tracking. Mr. Sullivan said that Mr. Simeonov's comments "supported what we were already thinking."

In other words, the ad-industry basically told Mozilla: “if you try to stop us, we will have no option but to get even sneakier. Best to just keep things the way they are.”

And Mozilla listened.

That’s when the WSJ drops another nugget that not so subtlety suggests one reason for the about-face:

“In its most recent financial statements, Mozilla disclosed about $86 million of its $104 million in 2009 revenue came from an advertising agreement with Google.”

Great.  Just great.

So here’s what I propose.

Since there’s clearly no way to beat the prying eyes of the online ad-industry, the best way to fight back is to just confuse the hell out of them.

I’m going to start by conducting numerous searches for things I actually don’t care about at all, including, but not limited to: kittens, farm supplies, The University of Maryland, soccer, and salad recipes.

Sure, they may think they know me, but in reality they---oh, cool, check out this ad for a great deal on a Hesston SH10 Stalk Chopper that just popped up. It's so handsome...and utilitarian...
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.