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Mozilla retreats on accepting crypto donations

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Mozilla has stepped back from its position on accepting donations via cryptocurrency following a massive backlash.

The browser maker, which runs as a nonprofit organization, had recently tweeted (opens in new tab) a reminder that users could donate spare or unwanted cryptocurrency to help with its running costs.

However this started an incredibly active debate about the environmental and societal impact of cryptocurrencies, with Mozilla now saying it will "take action", particularly concerning its climate goals.

Crypto backlash

"Last week, we tweeted a reminder that Mozilla accepts cryptocurrency donations. This led to an important discussion about cryptocurrency’s environmental impact. We’re listening, and taking action," the official Mozilla account tweeted (opens in new tab).

"Decentralized web technology continues to be an important area for us to explore, but a lot has changed since we started accepting crypto donations. So, starting today we are reviewing if and how our current policy on crypto donations fits with our climate goals. And as we conduct our review, we will pause the ability to donate cryptocurrency."

"In the spirit of open-source, this will be a transparent process and we'll share regular updates," the company added. "We look forward to having this conversation and appreciate our community for bringing this to our attention."

The initial reminder had led to widespread opposition online, including from Mozilla co-founder Jamie Zawinski, who slammed the company in a reply.

"Everyone involved in the project should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters," Zawinski wrote, with Peter Lins who helped build Gecko, the Mozilla-backed engine behind Firefox, arguing that Mozilla is "meant to be better than this." 

Mozilla began accepting cryptocurrency donations back in 2014, when it opened its wallet to Bitcoin, with Ethereum and even Dogecoin now accepted following the company's partnership with donation platform BitPay.

Zawinski later responded to Mozilla’s decision in a personal blog post (opens in new tab), noting that he was pleased that, "whatever part I played in getting them to rescind that terrible decision."

"Cryptocurrencies are not only an apocalyptic ecological disaster, and a greater-fool pyramid scheme, but are also incredibly toxic to the open web, another ideal that Mozilla used to support," he added. "So I hope that after they “conduct their review”, the conclusion they reach is the obvious one: ”Bury it in the desert. Wear gloves.”

Mike Moore
Mike Moore

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.