Mozilla: Welcome Google and Obama, We Invented ‘Do Not Track’ A Year Ago

Mozilla took a moment this morning to remind everyone that it invented Do Not Track in February 2011, was the first to implement it with Firefox, and that 18 percent of mobile and 7 percent of desktop Firefox users currently have it activated. Now the President and competitor Google Chrome are joining the bandwagon, but Firefox offered Do Not Track since before it was cool.

Enforcement procedures for Do Not Track and the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights are still in the works, but Mozilla expects DNT to be voluntary and the Federal Trade Commission to act against companies that commit but then stab users in the back.

The key lines from across Mozilla’s statement were:

“We’re encouraged to see increased momentum for Do Not Track. And as of today, it’s safe to say it’s here to stay…Mozilla will continue to work at the W3C, which has a vital role to play in creating an international standard…We want to continue to see Do Not Track evolve through the Internet’s rich tradition of open development and collaborative innovation. Do Not Track is too important to become a product of closed-door meetings rather than through open, multi-stakeholder efforts.”

And just in case the new parties try to water down Do Not Track such that it doesn’t protect users, Mozilla will go it alone. “If Do Not Track fails to materialize as a productive tool, we’ll look to develop other technical measures to ensure that users’ privacy preferences are respected.”

A sarcastically gleeful “Welcome Google!” in the statement slyly jabs at Chrome for its spot as the last major browser to accept the fact that users deserve an opt out of tracking. Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera having already implemented DNT.

Overall, Mozilla kept the statement classy, though. That tastes like fresh air in an atmosphere where Microsoft produces bombastic anti-Google viral videos, while Facebook and Twitter undo Google’s product changes that don’t favor them with a “Don’t Be Evil” browser extension.

Rather than squabbling and pointing fingers at competitors saying “but they do it”, the tech giant should see Mozilla as a role model. It didn’t wait until public pressure mounted and the government forced its hand. Mozilla stepped up and heeded the FTC’s request for a way to give control back to the citizens of the web. Maybe we need some sort of Presidential Medal of Internet Freedom to honor and encourage these kinds of contributions.