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Advertising Privacy

Ad Tracking: Is Anything Being Done? 303

bsk_cw (1202181) writes "The W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group has been trying to come up with a way to make targeted ads acceptable to users and useful to advertisers — and so far, hasn't gotten very far. Computerworld's Robert Mitchell has interviewed people on all sides of the issue — consumer privacy advocates, vendors of ad-blocking tools, advertisers and website publishers — to try to unravel the issues and see if any solution is possible at all."
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Ad Tracking: Is Anything Being Done?

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  • Basics (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @05:37AM (#46647185)

    The basic problem is that most of the time it works to the detriment of the person viewing the ad.

    Captcha: florid, once again unrelated to the topic

  • by Petr Kočmíd ( 3424257 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @05:45AM (#46647209) [] It just works. Together with old AdBlock, no more tracking of me anywhere.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @05:57AM (#46647235)

    Then get a new one.

    If you can't find a way to fund what you're doing with ads then do something else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:04AM (#46647271)

    The problem is not targetting: the problem is ads. Is there any ad provider who can be trusted to vet the content they pass on and avoid being a distributor of JavaScript malware?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @06:32AM (#46647379)

    And if your business model depends on sniffing through my surfing habits and otherwise invading my privacy, don't bother finding a new business model.

    Just go and die.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @07:36AM (#46647609)

    Use noscript , disable cookies. If your tin foil hat is too thick , Tor it out.

    With modern marketing software, none of that matters. Tor makes a little trouble for them, but you're still passing enough information to be uniquely identifiable. You have to understand that Tor hides your identity... but it doesn't hide your habits. The marketing people don't care WHO you are, they just need group the data they collect on you into sets. So they assign you an ID and every time you visit a site thats monitored with their software, they log it under that ID. Tor is protecting your identity, but again, your habits reveal that you're the same person that logged in 3hrs ago and looked at that vacuum cleaner ad. Then, they setup some contest or something, get you to fill out a form on a completely unrelated site, and viola your ID is linked to your name and number. The softwares offered to companies as a SASS, and as such, you plug it into your site to collect data... but the vendor has thousands of customers... and so the vendor collects data from all those customers and makes it available to all of those customers. As a result they know far more about you than any individual site does.

    I administer some applications that interface with such software and yes, it's horrifically invasive. I think our only saving grace is that this is used for marketing and sales, and they haven't really found a way to monetize the ridiculous amount of detail they have on you. Basically I have access to the data, and have to display it for sales people. But what use is most of that data to the sales folks? It's just too much data to make a lot of sense of. So I rank sites and keywords by time spent viewing them based on products we have. So if you call in and talk to one of our sales people they will know you have a lot of interest in product X and maybe competitors product Y... so they know what to talk up and talk down. I could, if I wanted to, tell the sales guy your political leanings, if you're gay, what medical ailments you might have... but what would the point of that be? It's not really used for anything horrible on our end... and that's party because it's just not all that useful, and also because people like me at the controls of such things have a moral center and refuse to reveal creative ways to use the data to the marketing folks. But the time is coming... There are smart people out there that will figure this stuff out and have no moral objections to it. I think the really invasive stuff out there now is either used by the government and political parties (even scarier) and by companys that are keeping their methods as trade secrets. But eventually the advanced analytics used to make sense of the data will be offered as a SASS just like the collection software is now.

    There is no way to stop this that I can think of, and federal laws will simply move the software out of the country. Even with the strictest laws you can think of, all that will happen is the corporate entities in the US will outsource their sales divisions to Asia to avoid the law.

  • by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:44AM (#46648579)

    IMHO these websites are examples of bad design . Good design should fall back to plain html/css with ideally, minimum loss of functionality

    Yeah, but then you wouldn't have to whitelist the JavaScript to see the content and get all the advertisements too. Working as intended.

    Most sites don't serve their own ads, so I can generally allow the site itself without getting ads. And, since NoScript has a "temporarily enable..." choice, I do that and only permanently enable sites that I use regularly.

    For example, I allow and, but,,, and (which are all included into the /. pages) are all set to "untrusted".

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman