In the tech space right now you can’t have missed the news about the EC and Microsoft’s landmark settlement, and the Browser Choice screen. Its a historic first step in placing choice directly in the hands of the user. But it is just that, a “first step”.

Creating choice, and advocating for it has been integral to the Mozilla mission since its inception (you will recall going back to a time when there wasn’t another solid browser choice to IE). But choice is nothing if you haven’t been able to learn about the options, and therefore ultimately make a decision that’s right for you.

Last week in association with YouGov in the UK, Mozilla commissioned a survey which concluded 77% of Britons did not know the Browser Choice screen was coming, and that they would soon be asked to choose their browser. So what’s the good of choice if (i) no-one knows there is one and (ii) what’s the right choice for them?

If you’re reading my blog via the Mozilla planet blog, it goes without saying that you understand the implications of the choices you make online, and I bet you’ve been bent on helping those around you understand this for many years. You’re tech savvy and web smart — but how does that lady in the next town from you learn more about why choice matters online? How will she learn why her browser is so important to her online experience, and how will she then make the right choice for herself when the times comes?

Its clear much, much more needs to be done to help citizens understand the online choices which are available, and their implications for the individual and the Web. Everyone should have the right to make an informed choice which is best for them.

I’m proud to be part of Mozilla, who has chosen a path to educate people about the Browser Choice Screen. We started our campaign with an Open Letter from John Lilly (Mozilla CEO) and Mitchell Baker (Mozilla Chair), calling for wider discussion around Web choice and in particular the Browser Choice screen.

I believe we all – as individual custodians of the Web, (and just darn nice people!) that it’s our obligation to make sure more people know how best to choose for themselves. In the case of the Browser Choice screen, it doesn’t matter to me which browser is chosen, or if a decision is made not to make a choice. But it is important to know how a choice of browser affects one’s experience online, and that its important a decision to based on a person’s individual needs, and belief.

What can you do?

  • If you’re a journalist – I urge you to write about the browser choice screen, and help your readers make an informed choice. Provide the facts and raise awareness, you have their ears.
  • If you are a blogger and Internet commentator, also please inform your fans and readers. Everything you can do to help people educate themselves, will ultimately better serve the Web.
  • If you’re an individual who has already made your browser choice,  please help educate someone in your school, office and family to make theirs.

opentochoice.org has been started by Mozilla as a place to learn and discuss online choice. Browser choice is simply the beginning, much more needs to happen to ensure Web users are fully in control of their online lives, and can make choices which best serve their needs. Join us there.