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Advertising Network Caught History Stealing 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the sunlight-is-the-best-disinfectant dept.
jonathanmayer writes "Last week the Stanford Security Lab reported some surprising results on how advertising networks respond to opt outs and Do Not Track. This week we made a new discovery in the online advertising ecosystem: Epic Marketplace, a member of the self-regulatory Network Advertising Initiative, is history stealing with unprecedented scale and sophistication. And Epic is snooping some remarkably sensitive information, including pages from the FTC, IRS, NIH, Mayo Clinic, and more. Epic has written a response defending its practices."
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Advertising Network Caught History Stealing

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  • Adsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zget (2395308) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:33AM (#36846538)
    Google currently owns the largest advertising network, and it will only expand (both internet wise and datamining wise) with Google+. If others can't history steal, it will put them out of business. In practice, Googles monopoly demands others to play bad.. I'm not saying it's a good thing, it is bad. Just stating the facts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:44AM (#36846694)

    Yes it's almost like slashdot is not in fact a homogeneous group of readers with a common opinion.

  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:44AM (#36846708)

    The difference is that piracy costs the US 750 million jobs and over $30T each year, whereas "enhanced sharing" of "sensitive" information is good for the economy.

  • by JMJimmy (2036122) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:50AM (#36846808)

    ooo - can I have some of this magic money that appears out of thin air?

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:55AM (#36846880)

    I realise this is going to be confusing for you, but just try and stay with me:

    Slashdot is not an individual. Slashdot is a collection of people of differing views and opinions.

    Some people who read and post on slashdot think that downloading music without approval of the copright is not theft. Some people who read and post on slashdot think that downloading music without approval of the copyright holder is theft. Some people who read and post on slashdot think that getting someone's browser history is not theft. Some people who read and post on slashdot think that getting someone's browser history is theft.

    Some people who read and post on slashdot think that there's a difference between private data and public data. Some people who read and post on slashdot think that there is no difference between private and public data and that "all information wants to be free".

    Some people who read and post on slashdot think that Obama is the best President in all of history. Some people who read and post on slashdot think that Bush was the best President in all of history. Some people who read and post on slashdot think that Bush and Obama are both reptilian aliens in disguise.

    Thus you can't expect to get a consistent opinion. Slashdot itself has no opinion, the people involved in it have opinions.

    You might seem to get a majority opinion shining through, but you can't compare them across areas. "Majority" may really just mean "loudest", the point remains the same.

    For your example, a perfectly reasonable explanation would be that the "majority opnion" of people on slashdot who care enough about downloading music to be involved in a discussion about that topic is that it is not theft. And the "majority opinion" of the people on slashdot who care enough about data snooping by web based advertising networks to be involved in a discussion about that topic is that such snooping is theft of private data. This makes perfect sense, because *they are not the same people*. Or alternatively the "theft" being referred to in the data snooping case is that of privacy. In the music distribution case if someone downloads a copy of a song the original owner of the song has lost nothing - they still have their copy. In the data snooping case the original owner of the history has lost something - they no longer their privacy.

    So there's two reasonable explanations of our observation, and there will be plenty more. So why are you confused by such a simple phenomenon?

  • It is isn't theft. What it is is invasion of privacy and ignoring 'contractual' requirements of 'do not track'. This is why sometimes we need regulation. It is also why the best privacy protection is for the browser to protect itself.

    The analogy here is asking the server not to put tomato sauce in in your hamburger and instead they decide to spit in it, with a big "f*@k you" attitude.

  • Computer fraud? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstrickler (920733) on Friday July 22, 2011 @11:08AM (#36847090)
    Epic has no contract, expressed or implied, with the end user to run software on their computer. They have only an agreement with the website operator, who has no authority to grant Epic the right to execute any software on the end user's computer. That said software actually examines the users browsing history to determine if they have visited specific pages, should be considered illegal, even if they only send back a de-identified list of segments represented by those links. Until Epic has received user consent, their actions should be considered computer fraud [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Adsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday July 22, 2011 @11:10AM (#36847108)

    I thought it was more interesting when you did this post the first time [slashdot.org]. But I guess you can now copy and paste this in to anything Google related from here on out, right?

    Now I'm wondering. Where does this copy-and-paste come from? When has an agent of Google said "privacy is not important"? And when does Google+, a "social network" service that not only features but stresses limiting communications to user-customizable groups and therefore controlling how public any given communications are, represent an example of privacy not being important?

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham

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