Is The Google/Firefox Relationship A Conflict Of Interest?
from the trust-but-verify dept
CNET’s Chris Soghoian raises some concerns about Google's close relationship with the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit that owns the Firefox trademark. He points out that the vast majority of Mozilla's revenue comes from Google, and notes a number of ways that Firefox is configured to use Google as the default for various online services. Soghoian is right that close scrutiny of these sorts of relationships is healthy. However, it's pretty hard to get too worked up about the specific problems he cites. First, he notes that Mozilla has chosen not to include a couple of ad- and cookie-blocking plugins with the default Firefox package. Soghoian thinks that's a sign of something fishy going on, since those products would deprive Google of revenue. But there are thousands of plugins out there, and all sorts of reasons they might have chosen to exclude any given one. Soghoian offers no evidence it was at Google's behest. But more to the point, even if it were Google's doing, I don't understand why that would be a bad thing. Google makes a profit by selling advertising and shares a significant share of those revenues with Mozilla, which Mozilla then spends on making Firefox better. That sounds like a win-win-win proposition to us. Finally, given Google's excellent track record of making ads actually useful, relevant, and non-intrusive, it's not at all clear that users even want Firefox to block its ads. As long as Mozilla doesn’t try to stop users from installing ad-blocking plugins themselves, I don't see the problem.