The Digital Cookie Continues to Crumble in Browser Land

Apple Safari … Mozilla Firefox … Google Chrome … fans and foes of each have long debated their general merits. Yet today, as consumers are increasingly turned off by intrusive data tracking by the online ad industry, one difference stands out.

Back in 2017, Apple slammed down the lid on the digital cookie jar by blocking all third-party cookies in its Safari browser. The ad industry railed back, saying cookies actually help consumers have a better online experience.

Apple was not buying, insisting they weren’t blocking cookies on sites users actually visit. They were only ending third-party data collection that allows tracking companies to basically recreate anyone browsing history, and target ads accordingly.

Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox has now announced a similar blocking policy.

“Going forward, new downloads of Firefox will automatically block trackers known as third-party cookies, which can follow users around the web and log their activity,” writes Chris Ratcliffe appearing in AdAge.

Will Google follow suit? Not exactly, Ratcliffe notes.

“Earlier this year, reports that Google might do the same sent shares of some ad tech companies lower. But in May the Alphabet Inc. unit chose an alternative approach that lets users decide whether to opt out.”

That’s a copout, according to Mozilla SVP Dave Camp.

“Expecting users to spend their time understanding privacy implications, rather than using the web they want to use, it’s not the best path,” Camp said.

Why the disparity? A quick look at the business model of each browser company tells the story:

  • Apple makes money selling phones and online devices; they are completely focused on the user experience.
  • Mozilla makes money through distribution deals and partnerships; again, focused on the user experience.
  • Google makes money from advertisers; anything that disrupts that is naturally going to be a tough sell.

All browsers are not created equal. As always, follow the money before you decide, and stay in control of your data privacy options.