back to article Brave, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla gather together to talk web privacy... and why we all shouldn't get too much of it

At the USENIX Enigma conference on Tuesday, representatives of four browser makers, Brave, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, gathered to banter about their respective approaches to online privacy, while urging people not to ask for too much of it. Apple, which has advanced browser privacy standards but was recently informed that …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Microsoft Loves the Web"

    It really does.

    It really does love slurping your life from the Web. Then selling it to pretty well everyone who wants it.

    They aren't alone in that. Google is even worse IMHO.

    They really are trying to show you adverts because that means money... loads of lovely money.

    My system has blocked over 320,000 adverts and 275,000 trackers in two years. Do I feel ashamed that I have deprived people all that advertising and slurping revenue?

    No I effing don't and long may I carry on NOT using Google or Microsoft directly for searches.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

      sooo, people spend their time and money in an effort to provide you with a lovely website , with just one proviso - you look at (well, at least load) the advert that is incorporated into it , so that they may recieve some modest reward for their efforts at NO COST to you .

      ...and you not only shit all over that by blocking their ads and denying them revenue, in effect STEALING their content, you openly brag about it on a forum of apparently respectable responsible techie web users , most of whom are the same.

      Shame on you all!

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        Why are you anonymous? If you want to speak proudly for these advertising behemoths, then at least have the character to stand behind your words.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

          I'm trying to decide if that was a whoosh and I can't. I really can't.

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

            Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

            Our anonymous friend didn't even want his/her online anonymous avatar to be identified...

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        "... blocking their ads and denying them revenue, in effect STEALING their content..."

        I don't mind poster ads at bus stops. Sometimes they even end up in me buying stuff. They're just... there.

        What a poster ad does not do (and note "poster", not "video display") is move around or make noise in order to continually gain my attention. Or move around the bus stop so that no matter which way I turn I see it. Or stop me getting onto the bus until I acknowledge that it's there, Or follow me onto the bus, then the connecting bus, then down the street and into the shop I'm trying to get to.

        If internet ads were like posters at bus stops, then I would switch my blockers off. But while they are more like a creepy ex who follows you around and continually contacts you... well, I feel my adblockers are less like the tools of thievery and more the equivalent of an anti-stalking court order.

        And the developers/owners of these sites have only themselves to blame for loss of revenue by implementing tracking and in-your-face advertising. So the amount of remorse I feel for using adblockers is in the realm of zero squared.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

          who cares if the ad follows you around? its taking the place of a fresh advert which may be more distracting. If its the same ad again that you've already looked at , its effectively blocking new ads

          1. Ragarath

            Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

            I'm pretty sure you'd just end up with a cohort of ads following you around and not as you surmise have the first ad block the rest.

            It'd be like a gaggle of kids all trying to be the one heard.

          2. RyokuMas Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

            "If its the same ad again that you've already looked at , its effectively blocking new ads"

            I'm trying to figure out if you're deliberately missing the point for the sake of provoking an argument...

            Personally, I would rather see a different ad every time and retain my privacy, rather than be stalked round the net by various tracking technologies. Especially if said ads were "poster" style ie: flat text or an image, not obtrusive, not video or animation, no sound.

            1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

              "Personally, I would rather see a different ad every time and retain my privacy, rather than be stalked round the net by various tracking technologies"

              This reminds me - Those websites that have the same exact advert multiple times all over the page...If i didn't want/need your product after seeing it once how does seeing it 15 more times further down the page as i'm trying to read something make the product more appealing? Does this actually work on anyone?

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

                "Does this actually work on anyone?"

                Of course. It acts on the muggins who's paying for it. Remember the advertising industry is only selling advertising.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

                "after seeing it once how does seeing it 15 more times further down the page as i'm trying to read something make the product more appealing?"

                You mean like Grammerly ads on YouTube? Or ads made to look like a blogger post with poor production value? When they say "free", I run.

                My hosts file is the Who's Who of internet spammers. I can type 127.0.0.0 so fast the keys stick like an old manual typewriter (yeah, I'm old).

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

          "they are more like a creepy ex who follows you around"

          It's the creepy ex's little brother following you around, taking notes about where you go, what you do and who you do it too.

        3. Khelban

          Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

          But if you notice a lot of sites now tell you to subscribe or turn your blockers off if you want to use their site (others limit how many free visits you get per month).

      4. fung0

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        If site operators are concerned that their content is not being paid for, they are free to alter their business model. It is not my responsibility to allow them to enter my digital space and creepily follow me around for the purposes of STEALING my personal information so that it can later be used against me.

        Duck Duck Go has an excellent blog post explaining how they make money without tracking people. Just showing an ad tied to the current search term provides more than adequate revenue. All that tracking stuff most sites add provides a relatively small increment to profits - but a huge benefit to mind-control.

        The problem with micro-payments isn't that they can't work - it's that the online ad (i.e. content) industry would never accept the equivalent in cash - because it is no longer (just) about the money. It's why Zuck told the US investigation that the had "no interest" in running a paid service. (It would let his friends control elections, for one thing.)

        Big Brother isn't going to give up - but I refuse to go willingly.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

          "It's why Zuck told the US investigation that the had "no interest" in running a paid service."

          And it's very telling that when you see Zuck's laptop, there is tape over the camera and the mic.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        On the assumption that this is on the level and not ironic, let's look at a situation which is a little more clear cut, in the physical world.

        The other day, along with the usual payload of bills the post included unaddressed leaflets for some junk or other I'll never want. Yesterday it included the Radio Times for SWMBO and out of that fell several leaflets for junk we'd never want.

        There's only one way to describe this: litter.

        And litter is a form of pollution.

        What possible justification is there for an economic system that depends, or claims to depend on producing pollution? That's pollution as a deliberate product, not as a by-product of something else.

      6. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        > with just one proviso - you look at (well, at least load) the advert that is incorporated into it

        If that were the one proviso, I'd have no problem with it. But it's not. The other proviso is that you are subjected to being spied on. I will never stop protecting myself from that, and I see no reason to feel any shame about it. It's the spies that should feel ashamed.

      7. bazza Silver badge

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        Sooo, people spend their time and money in an effort to provide you with a lovely website , with just one proviso - you look at (well, at least load) the advert that is incorporated into it , so that they may recieve some modest reward for their efforts at NO COST to you.

        I think this AC has no idea who actually pays for advertising...

        Advertising is a parasitic activity on the side of other people's hard endeavour. Advert hosters fundamentally blackmail their way to profits. If you don't advertise with me, I'll make sure your competitor does. And so then, to whom is that cost actually passed on to? The consumer.

      8. eldakka Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        at NO COST to you
        Really? No Cost?

        How do you think the ad gets to me? Magic? It's gotta be transmitted down my internet connection, taking up my bandwidth/quota, which costs money.

        Then, it has to be rendered on something, i.e. my computer, my display. Taking up CPU/GPU resources, which cost money, and electricity, which costs money. It requires more memory to render. Thus I need more memory in my computer - costing money - to render all these ads, and more RAM also equals more electricity use on top of the capital purchase cost, which also costs money. Then it has to display it on my display device, which again cost me money, taking up screen real-estate that could have stuff on it I want, thus taking up money by using my screen real-estate, and me having to scroll more, spend more time picking out the content I am after.

        Also, the downloading of those ads increases the render-time for the entire page, making page load slower. Taking up my time while I wait for the unrelated content of the page to be downloaded and rendered. Time is money.

        All of the ads increase my mental parsing time, I have to sort the ads from the content, which takes time. I have to scroll more, which takes time, because while the content may be 2 screens, because of the ads its 5 screens, thus causing me to spend more time scrolling through the page.

        There in an effect of gratuitous ads on my mental health. The noise and horrible colour schemes and videos can cause headaches, eye strain, exhaustion due to the extra mental processing I have to do parse the extra, fucking useless, data from the useful data, the content, of the page.

        So fuck off with your "NO COST to you" lie, you self-serving turd.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

          theres a long list of microscopic time and energy concerns that add up to a fraction of the effort it takes for you to take a shit

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

            Would you be more upset if 1,000,000 people each stole one cent from you, or if I stole $10,000 from you?

            Likewise, should a judge be more lenient if I steal $10,000 from one person, or if I steal one cent from 1,000,000 people?

      9. No Yb
        WTF?

        Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

        I gave up on the advertising "social contract" you're talking about, once things like malicious ads started showing up on otherwise reputable websites. Ones that look like they're dialog boxes, error messages, blink like crazy, claim that 'OMG you have a virus'... or that install malicious software if you happen to click with an un-secured browser. Friend clicked on one, wound up calling into one of those fake tech support companies and getting his computer locked down enough for me to have to come fix it.

        All of those things exist. I'm not making it up. Ad sellers did not do a very good job preventing any of these sorts of ads from showing up.

        If you want to pretend there's some sort of social contract, I'm not sure why you think it should be as one sided as "view this ad to see this content", and not "view this safe ad that's not ridiculously intrusive and not targeted directly at you with data collected from everywhere you visited... to see this content".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft Loves the Web"

      Like Roman Polanski loves women

      or Jimmy Saville loved hospitals.

      or Rolf Harris loved....

      I'll also get my coat.

  2. HmYiss

    A love heart..

    Made from moist hot air..

    Perfect.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    I happen to prefer Firefox ...... with a shed load of add-ons!

    Canvasblocker, Cookie Autodelete, Disconnect, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, NoScript, Privacy Badger, Tracking Token Stripper & uBlock Origin!

    Any more that I should really be using? Or any of these that have gone to the dark side since I started using them?

    1. firey

      Temporary Containers

      I think Firefox's "Temporary Containers" add-on in Automatic Mode is vital - it'll load every new domain into a sandboxed container which automatically drops all cookies & local storage when it's closed.

      The only other relevant Add-ons I use are uBlock Origin & uBlock Matrix.

      I do also use ghacks-user.js to add restrictions to the "user.js" in my Firefox profile directory, but that requires extra effort to periodically run before starting Firefox, so won't be suitable for everyone.

      To deal with particular sites which don't like such restrictions, I use a completely separate Firefox profile.

      E.g. I have a profile exclusively for work use of Office365 - the only add-on installed in that is uBlock Origin, and I don't use ghacks-user.js - but I do have to be careful not to visit any non-work non-Office365 URLs in that profile.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Temporary Containers

        recently I did an online search for a super-simple webkit browser written in C++. I found one on github. After building it [with a bit of tweeking for FreeBSD] I discovered that it was functional enough to use for HTML help files, at the very least.

        it is fairly small, but not well commented. It seems to be self-documenting enough that it would be possible, for example, to write a cookie filter that would NOT put cookies into the same place, but rather allow you to whitelist some, and store others, and ignore ones from a blacklist [let's say]. Then of course there's other offline storage you could intercept. All of these appear to be controllable by the application itself, and not necessarily using webkit features.

        So the potential exists to fork this web browser in such a way that I can get features I want from it without plugins. The code is not very long, 6 '.cpp' files and headers. it uses webkit and GTK, so should be (potentially) cross-platform. In any case, it's called 'web_browser' (the string 'DBT Browser' appears in the application's title bar) and it compiles into a binary called 'main' - so obviously it would need some tweeking to make it into an actual open source project for general distribution.

        But I really just wanted sample code on how to do this (webkit-based browser) with my OWN application, really, to browse doxygen-generated help files associated with a completely different project... and for that it seems to be a pretty cool little application, worthy of mention, *ESPECIALLY* if the regular browser makers can't get their @#$% together and LET THE CUSTOMERS HAVE THEIR WAY with respect to ads, tracking, cookies, script, interfaces, etc. etc. etc..

        try as I might I can't seem to locate any copyright information, so I guess this means it's public domain.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Temporary Containers

          Looks like it's probably copyright this guy, bob.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Temporary Containers

        I do also use ghacks-user.js to add restrictions to the "user.js" in my Firefox profile directory, but that requires extra effort to periodically run before starting Firefox, so won't be suitable for everyone.
        Why not create a shell script (batch/bash/whatever is appropriate for the OS you are using) that runs that process for ghacks-user.js and then starts Firefox, and point to that as the start script/shortcut to start Firefox? That way it runs automatically each time you start firefox.

    2. fung0

      Best Protection

      uMatrix replaces most of those add-ons, and offers better control. I would never venture onto the Web without it.

      With uMatrix, you can see that most commercial sites actually source content from 20, 30 or even more separate domains - most of them ones you've never heard of, whose ownership is difficult to discover. Most of those domains want to load scripts, cookies, frames and other stuff that is detrimental to your privacy, and an ideal delivery mechanism for outright malware.

      JavaScript, in particular, exists based on the premise that I will let strangers run unverified code ON MY DEVICE. Not gonna happen, folks.

    3. N2 Silver badge

      And

      pi-hole DNS

      Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc and all their shyte domains to room 127

    4. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Any more that I should really be using?

      I recommend adding a Pi-Hole, not really an add-on to Firefox, but a very useful add-on to your (home) network.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      I used to like Firefox, but since they've tried to force me to put my bookmarks and stuff "on the cloud", I'm not upgrading any longer. I haven't had time to figure out a convenient workaround.

    6. Khelban

      Privacy Possum is like Privacy Badger. I have read several posts where people run both.

      I forget all my add-ons but suffice it to say I have checked with sites that test your privacy and I am well covered.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also in the news Dracula was seen at a blood donor conference.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Besides

    Who actually clicks on ads or takes the blind bit of notice of them?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Besides

      The people who make money off them all claim that everybody does. In fact, they claim that everybody loves the adverts because they are so useful.

      I have never met a trustworthy person involved with advertising. They are all bullshitters, it's part of the job description. Ignoring them completely is the only sane thing to do.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Besides

        "The people who make money off them all claim that everybody does."

        These, of course, are the people in the advertising industry, not their mugs, the advertisers.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Besides

      I accidentally clicked on one once, years ago. It was a horrible experience.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Besides

      Ads are probably more successful than you think, this group of commentards is probably unreprsentative. I mean, if they didn't work at all, El Reg would have closed down long ago.

      Digital ads are generally compared with direct mail shots which have success rates of around < 5%, I think. Digital ads have success rates of around < 0.1 % for scattergun but this rises as targetting gets more granular, though apparently mainly for political ads (which might explain why many product ads eschew too much targetting), but digital ads only pay for succesfull clicks, whereas direct mail has to pay for all.

      This is a simplified, and not wholly accurate view, of the situation that advertisers and content platforms use in their auctions (throw in some game theory as well) when deciding prices.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Besides

        "digital ads only pay for succesfull clicks, whereas direct mail has to pay for all."

        All ads are paid for, by somebody. In the digital world, they are paid for by the viewer (in time, bandwidth, electricity, wear and tear on equipment, etc.) It's not a huge amount of money for the individual per ad, but in aggregate, the ad agencies are saving billions (trillions? maybe not yet ...) per year. I'm pretty certain this is the definition of "cost shifting", which is illegal in pretty much every civilized country.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Besides

      "Who actually clicks on ads or takes the blind bit of notice of them?"

      It's when your aim is off and you click on one or there are 5 "download" buttons on the page and you weren't paying enough attention. At that point, I shut the browser down and do a purge before using it again.

  6. Danny 5

    bah

    The problem isn't the ads, the problem is the "targeted". First TV and radio ads weren't targeted, later on they were connected to the program they were aired on, but that was as far as it went when it came to ads.

    Can someone explain to me why we really can't have that online? Why it's absolutely necessary to slurp everyone's data, so they can receive ads that are specifically targeted to individuals? As if a lot of people click on ads in the first place, all that tracking is done for a handful of people actually dumb enough to click on ads, but we all have to suffer for it.

    1. Spamfast

      Re: bah

      If I could up-vote more I would.

    2. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Why it's absolutely necessary...targeted to individuals?

      The advertisers like it because they believe that this will mean only those who might be interested in buying a product or service will see an ad. This means they won't be spending money advertising said product or service to anyone who has no interest in it. The analytics people who actually do the tracking and aggregating of collected personal data like it because they can charge the advertisers more for the targeting service than if they were merely selling billboard space/air time. Presumably both parties make/save more money this way or the practice would have died out by now.

      FWIW I agree with you and believe every effort should be made to thwart tracking.

      1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

        Re: Why it's absolutely necessary...targeted to individuals?

        Presumably both parties make/save more money this way or the practice would have died out by now.

        The problem there is that everybody's likely making the same assumption: if all the ad markets are doing something that supposedly increases revenues, it clearly does or else they would've knocked it off long ago. Add in the fact that it makes a certain intuitive sense and you've got a recipe for behemoth levels of inertia.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Why it's absolutely necessary...targeted to individuals?

        > they believe that this will mean only those who might be interested in buying a product or service will see an ad.

        Then why do they fight so hard to subvert those of us who protect ourselves against their spying? It seems to me that they're spending a ton of time and money trying hard to ensure that people who are energetically and emphatically declaring their disinterest.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why it's absolutely necessary...targeted to individuals?

        "Presumably both parties make/save more money this way or the practice would have died out by now."

        No, it only requires the party of the 2nd part, the analytics people, i.e. people in the advertising industry, to persuade the party of the first part, the advertisers, that they're saving money. In fact, of course, they're paying for the analytics instead.

      4. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Why it's absolutely necessary...targeted to individuals?

        The advertisers like it because they believe that this will mean only those who might be interested in buying a product or service will see an ad.

        What that means, in the current state of maturity in the "industry", is that those that have already bought that product (or one effectively identical to it) will see that ad.

        How well does that work?

    3. andy 103 Silver badge

      Re: bah

      Why it's absolutely necessary to slurp everyone's data, so they can receive ads that are specifically targeted to individuals?

      Because people make money from it. A potential customer is more likely to make a purchase if you're telling them about a product/service they actually care about. As long as that's the case it's never going to stop. That's really all it comes down to.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: bah

        Then why do they persist in trying to fling ads at people who clearly don't want them? The only way it will influence the targets' behaviour is to prejudice them against the product.

    4. fwthinks

      Re: bah

      Completely agree - There are two completely different topics - Firstly the ability to track individuals for targeting adverts and secondly the intrusive nature of ads on sites (and their bandwidth stealing).

      I just can't understand why tracking individuals is required to provide adverts - as people have said, you just see a different advert. If I am reading an article on El Reg, it is quite a good guess that an IT related advert could be relevant. You don't need to track every other web site I go to. Code which blocks adverts (whether targeted or not) is a separate discussion and I can understand why this could have an impact on content providers.

      Tracking individuals does not provide advertisers any significant benefit - this is all bluff by Google / Facebook to charge extra for advert placement. The are the only people who would be significantly affected by not being able to target adverts, not companies like news sites.

    5. Stork Silver badge

      Re: bah

      We are a bit on the other side of the table. We have holiday accommodation, and let's say we have difficulty filling particular weeks.

      We know we appeal to families with school age children, so for us it would be interesting to advertise to parents in areas with school holidays at that time.

      Three years ago that more or less worked, the last two not.

      And of course, showing our ad to oap's and people in other areas would largely be waste.

      As it is, we are back to listings and our own site, plus word of mouth

    6. trindflo
      Big Brother

      Re: bah

      I'll pull out my crystal ball and tell you what they are up to (although said ball has developed smudges over the years that will not go away).

      Marketers have a pipe dream that if they have perfect information about their target they can make them do whatever they want. It is similar to the pipe dream in the tech industry that someone is going to make a code generator that will preclude ever needing to deal with a programmer again.

      People selling these ads to marketers have no incentive to tell their customers they are wasting their money.

      The spooks in the US have found out they can just buy much of the data they want from the firms aggregating and hording the data.

      The idiots delivering our tat have helped erect a Stasi for us, sent us the bill, and got paid by our government for their service as well.

    7. Richocet Bronze badge

      Re: bah

      I completely agree. I'm OK with seeing advertising on sites, and am OK for many sites to be funded this way.

      The outrageously invasive and sometimes illegal tactics that advertising brokers utilise to harvest private data is the problem for me. The companies who pay to place ads don't need or ask for that amount of targeting.

      For example a site I want to support showed me the message "Please disable your ad blocker" so I did because I wanted to support them. However their advertising partner refused to display and ads, and I got the same message this time asking me to disable my privacy blocker. I wasn't prepared to do that. So the site loses out on advertising, just because the middle-man is playing hard ball.

      Also I have had legit sites serve me scams and malware via their advertising integrations. It is not OK to do that, and don't complain that I'm denying advertising revenue if they allow people to attack me through their site if I enable ads.

    8. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: bah

      The thing that "should" scare people is when they make a mention of maybe going on a cruise in a private message on a social media site and very soon after, they see all sorts of ads for cruises. I've had a couple of people I know freaked out when they had a family member in their last days and communicated to a few people via social media instead of email and then were inundated with ads for mortuaries, burial services, etc. Oh no, they aren't reading your private.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The solution is obvious

    some one needs to write a wrapper that includes all browsers and presents the user with a randomised "Browser of the page" interface. Microslicing the users browsing between different browsers so they can all have some shitty incomplete data to play with.

  8. Joe Drunk
    Mushroom

    There's only one entity that knows what's best for me. Me, Myself, and I Inc. As a corporation, all initiatives are implemented in a "What's best for my corporation" paradigm. Ads, trackers and other content I deem of no benefit to MMI [Me, Myself, and I Inc.] are filtered or removed. Once your traffic enters my LAN it is entirely under MMI's jurisdiction and the only terms that apply are MMI's which clearly state it will be filtered in accordance with MMI's best practices.

    If your website should fail and fallover due to my content filtering MMI will remain indifferent and attribute it to a failure of your business model. News will still happen, it will merely be disseminated by another source.

    I block all content I deem non-beneficial. It's just my corporate policy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yeah i do that, I ordered a loada shit of amazon.com , once it got into my property it was under my control and I only kept the bits I wanted. I was apoplectic to find an invoice for loads $$$! wtf!

      so that went straight in the bin.

      the cheek of it!

      1. Ragarath

        Wow, so much wrong with this AC post.

        You ordered something from Amazon, therefore you paid for it upfront. No invoice. An invoice anyway is a legal document that you have entered into a contract to pay if you want the goods. The goods are sill not yours until you accept that contract. That is stealing.

        Conversely, web adverts and tracking cookies are little ones and zeros that you can stop from entering your home as once they hit your router the cost is entirely on you. It costs you to display them in terms of bandwidth and electricity.

        No legal contract has been entered into, a website can say what they like on their front page "You cannot view this site unless you accept ads" but it is still not a contract.

        If they so wish they can block all access until you click the button that says yes to these ads. The same way they can change their funding model to a pay to access. A lot of these sites don't because people wouldn't.

        I consider this the same as the telemetry crap that manufacturers of devices say they "need" to help with making the device/service better. It is using my data, you know those ones and zeros that cost me money. So they either get not used or blocked at the firewall.

        We should not have to accept this crap "just because"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No legal contract has been entered into, a website can say what they like on their front page "You cannot view this site unless you accept ads" but it is still not a contract.

          Yeah but thats the implied moral contract. thats the deal.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Implied moral contract?

            You mean I'm morally bound to provide you with a living?

            Where is that written, Kemosabe?

  9. big_D Silver badge

    No problem with adverts...

    I have no problems with sites showing me static image adverts.

    What I have a problem with is tracking and "mutlimedia" adverts which, at best are annoying, at worst get misused to push malware.

    Until the malvertising industry gets its act together, respects my privacy and actually takes responsibility for what it delivers, they won't have a place on my network.

  10. fpx
    Devil

    Micropayments

    I would really like to use micropayments instead of seeing ads. Unfortunately, that is never going to work. If you are willing to pay for content, then you are worth so much more to advertisers, and so much more valuable to the site. So you will be seing more ads than before! But hey, at least they might be more relevant to you than as if you were surfing as a cheap anonymous freeloader. Or not.

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: Micropayments

      brave - its baked in and you only get the adds you want, plus the logo is cool

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Micropayments

      Micropayments? They are worse than tracking adverts. You are explicitly giving your financial information to every website you visit with micropayments.

  11. adam payne Silver badge

    Justin Schuh, engineering director on Google Chrome for trust and safety, reprised an argument he's made previously that too much privacy would be harmful to ad-supported businesses.

    Such as the very one you work for?!?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Also ...

      Too much physical security would be harmful to burglary-supported businesses.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    250

    "1 in every 250 programmatic impressions was impacted by a malicious or disruptive ad"

    Source:

    https://www.confiant.com/

    I do not allow any ads to run on my devices because of malvertising.

    Ads are no longer indistinguishable from malware and if you allow adverts to run attempts will be made to compromise your device, period.

    I also do not allow JavaScript to run in my browsers for many of the same reassons.

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: 250

      Thank you.

      I've had to fix too many infestations of malware from advertising that was 'hacked' (also known as "not curated because we're lazy and money-hungry"). Screw your ads.

  13. andy 103 Silver badge

    They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

    I'm not someone who's a sucker for advertising. But the reason I believe they work is because when they work correctly something of interest is being put in front of you, with zero effort from you having to find the information.

    As an example I recently looked on a popular clothing website for a jumper. Found one but it was on (what I consider) the expensive side so I didn't purchase it. About a week later I had an ad for that exact jumper - right in my face - being sold for about half the price I'd seen it for. It was being sold by the same retailer in a sale. So I bought it. I wouldn't have even gone back to their website/app and looked had I not known this. Relevant information was right in front of me, and nothing else was crowding it. I didn't have to put any effort in to getting this information.

    The more worrying thing for me is how they are tracking it. I know someone who said they merely had voice conversations with their partner and then ended up seeing ads online for what they were talking about. That's worrying. If people were more transparent about how the tracking works then people might be less dubious about it.

    There's also cases where it doesn't work at all. Such as seeing adverts for parts for a car you no longer own... Obviously the data is one-way because there's no way the advertiser could know with certainty something like you'd sold a car. Well, not yet anyway.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

      > something of interest is being put in front of you, with zero effort from you having to find the information.

      If you aren't putting effort into finding the information yourself, you're just allowing people who don't have your best interest in mind to mislead you. Anything said in a marketing message must be viewed as inherently suspect.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

      [...] something of interest is being put in front of you, with zero effort from you having to find the information.

      It that something is really "of interest", I would be actively seeking it out. If that "something of interest" were to be a good or service I was actively interested in, I'd be actively seeking it out, credit card in hand. Since neither of these are the case when some ad-slinger is spontaneously popping up photon pollution on my screen, that garbage is not, by definition, "something of interest. So bugger off!

    3. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

      seeing adverts for parts for a car you no longer own

      If only. A year ago I bought an Alfa Romeo Spider rear window. Since then, whenever I see an ad (especially at work where they seem to believe that ad blockers are some sort of communist plot), it'll be rear window glass for some random bloody car.

      When it's not another bloody camera bag, of course.

      1. No Yb

        Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

        Amazon still keeps asking me how old my child is. I have no children.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

          Tell 'em s/he's 42.

          They might get it...or not.

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

          Amazon still keeps asking me how old my child is. I have no children.

          Tell Amazon your child died (accidentally drowned in the Amazon).

    4. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: They do work, as much as it pains me to admit it

      IMO, the once per year benefit doesn't outweigh the thousands of times per day harm being done.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alright lads...

    I've got this.

    Why not give the user the ability to specify their interests in their browser config (if they so desire) and decide whether or not advertisers can have access to that list.

    Simple.

    If a user has designated that a child is using the device then any and all tracking / fingerprinting should be disabled...completely and advertisers should not display ads.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Alright lads...

      I've got a better one. An indicator that in making purchasing decisions you discriminate against those who pester you.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Alright lads...

      Wouldn't work. The advertising industry is convinced that the only reason you haven't bought a ColdPlay album or left handed screwdriver is because you haven't realised how much you need one, and it's their responsibility, nay mission, to enlighten you every minute of the day.

  15. SVV Silver badge

    too much privacy would be harmful to ad-supported businesses

    So maybe ITV should have the permanent right to enter your home without you knowing it and search through all your stuff, selling the details of what it found to tat peddlars, just because you once watched an episode of Coronation Street?

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: too much privacy would be harmful to ad-supported businesses

      You mean they don't? That I could have asked them to leave instead of handing over the keys to my underwear drawer?

      BUGGER!!

  16. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    In this, as in most matters, society self-stratifies

    Populations are not homogeneous. People self-select, or are de facto selected by others, into groups based on defining characteristics. We each 'belong' or have been assigned to many groups; some of these overlap.

    The point being introduced is that 'one size fits all' is unconsciously taken as basis for discussion of topics like that discussed here. People who don't or choose not to 'fit' are outliers and may be designated pariahs. In this example, the advertising industry wears a badge of entitlement to pursue its ends and sometimes attempts to portray non-conformers to its economic model as enemies of market-capitalism, free-loaders, and worse.

    I recollect seeing report of a prominent figure in advertising declare those who don't obligingly sit through TV commercials to be (paraphrasing) cheats in much the same category as people who steal candy bars. That bears parallel to copyright rentiers bemoaning (alleged) loss of income from people sharing digital sequences rather than pay outrageous prices for the official product. In both instances the rejoinder must be that those complaining ought engage in a spot of introspection over whether features of their mode of doing business are responsible for that about which they complain.

    As matters stand, it is a small minority of the population taking active steps (additional to those offered by default in a browser) to protect themselves from advertisement intrusion and from those who would leech their private information. Indeed, the huge bulk of the population happily (seemingly) uses Windows and its bundled browser. Their choice of operating system indicates insensitivity towards opportunities it gives for Microsoft, its "trusted partners", advertisers, state surveillance apparatus, and a host of criminals, to filch information and track activities.

    Readers of El Reg are a section of the population possessing technological nous regarding computers and the Internet. There are many more people drawn from the reasonably educated section (say 20%) of the population supposedly capable of making informed choices too. Some, by no means all of these possessing deep computer/Internet expertise, avail themselves of opportunities to protect their sanity by eschewing opportunistic advertisements and taking other steps to preserve privacy from intrusion by commercial and state agencies.

    These people are a thorn in the side of aggressive commerce and of state surveillance. They won't go away. So far as commerce is concerned, loss to advertisers is likely trivial given that the target primarily is consumer culture built around acquisition of mass produced fashionable products. On the (likely false) assumption that leaders of industry and commerce don't use blocking technologies, are they bombarded with advertisements for super-yachts, expensive cars, sure-fire investment opportunities, and similar products befitting their incomes? Targeting with that degree of specificity doesn't seem feasible.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: In this, as in most matters, society self-stratifies

      "are they bombarded with advertisements for super-yachts, expensive cars, sure-fire investment opportunities"

      You mean you are not?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: In this, as in most matters, society self-stratifies

      "In both instances the rejoinder must be that those complaining ought engage in a spot of introspection"

      I think they're incapable of introspection. They wouldn't be in the business if they were.

  17. naive

    Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

    The internet is another great example of what people are capable of without government interference. Except from developing the basic networking protocols, it all came into existence, without burning a single tax dollar. Like all the great inventions at the end of the 19th century, internet is the result of capitalism, which actually delivers instead of just taking until everyone is poor like socialism does.

    Ads is the oil keeping the internet alive, without ads, over half of the internet would die, and users would be kept hostage by a handful of big companies and government controlled mainstream media outlets.

    Although it may feel creepy at times, targeted ads are actually a blessing. Which man would like to be bugged by ads for PMS diapers, lipstick and washing powder when he is watching hickok45 on youtube ?.

    The subject of targeted ads should not be swiped on the same heap as the dragnet surveillance by the US three letter agencies, projects like PRISM served a different purpose. There is no free lunch, getting some ads is a little price to pay for all the internet has to offer.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

      > Except from developing the basic networking protocols, it all came into existence, without burning a single tax dollar.

      This is not true. Plenty of tax dollars went into it.

      > Ads is the oil keeping the internet alive, without ads, over half of the internet would die

      If tracking is required to support it, then I'm fine with over half of it dying. Much of it is already dead to me anyway.

      > and users would be kept hostage by a handful of big companies and government controlled mainstream media outlets.

      Absolutely not true. There are a large number of sites that are operated by normal people who don't run ads and don't charge money.

      > Although it may feel creepy at times, targeted ads are actually a blessing.

      I could not disagree more strenuously.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

        "This is not true. Plenty of tax dollars went into it."

        Oft repeated, but not strictly true. The tax dollars bought some of the initial hardware and links (via BBN and SRI), yes. The rest was donated by the industry (thank you, especially Honeywell and DEC!). Ma Bell donated some of the early software (and later some links). Other than that it was all grad students and the occasional professor working on the myriad problems with no financial compensation whatsoever.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

          You're ignoring the billions that have been provided in tax breaks to encourage internet development over the decades, as well as the various internet bodies that were operated and funded by the government until a decade or so ago. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that without government support, both through direct funding and supportive services, we would not have the internet at all. At best, we'd have something more like interactive cable (which is where the big players are trying hard to push the internet anyway).

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

            The OP was talking about when it first came into existence, as was I. You are talking about NSF involvement and later.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

      "without ads, over half of the internet would die"

      You say that like it's a bad thing.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      @naive -- Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

      Can tell if you're trolling or not, but your handle seems to fit nicely.

    4. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Targeted ads are great and we need them to keep the internet great

      The internet is another great example of what people are capable of without government interference. Except from developing the basic networking protocols, it all came into existence, without burning a single tax dollar. Like all the great inventions at the end of the 19th century, internet is the result of capitalism, which actually delivers instead of just taking until everyone is poor like socialism does.
      So is slavery. What's your point?

  18. trindflo

    What advertising funds

    "Most of the garbage we have stuffed in our faces when we attempt to find useful information is actually funded by advertising"

    FTFY.

  19. JohnFen Silver badge

    Screw them

    > That said, Microsoft is not far from Google in advocating not biting the hand that feeds the web ecosystem – advertising.

    Screw them. The marketing industry has been actively malicious and anti-user for years, and have achieved a great deal of success by abusing us all. Now they're arguing that we need to just bend over to them because they're successful.

    I reject that utterly. They have given up any and all credibility to talk about these things. If forcing them to behave at least halfway decently means the loss of some free web sites, so be it. I'll shed no tears for any of them.

  20. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Broadly speaking, advertisers don't actually need your data,"

    "Broadly speaking, advertisers don't actually need your data," said Schuh. "All that they really want is to monetize efficiently."

    At last someone with "clout" has admitted this in public. The ad brokers who drive the tracking are the chief beneficiaries, and not because they use the content of the data themselves. They monetise the data by displaying their "reach" to prospective advertisers, just as "circulation" used to be a measure of the value of a newspaper for advertisers.

    So we're being tracked and snooped on for the benefit of neither ourselves nor the advertisers, but to increase the revenue stream of the brokers - we're just the sausage meat in the grinder, but it's not for nothing that ad broking is one of the most profitable ventures in the modern economy. Everyone's screaming to be heard, and the din is so loud no-one dare fall silent for a moment lest they get forgotten about.

    The big joke is that increasingly nobody's listening.

  21. Craig100

    Online advertisers are pretty stupid

    1) I search for and pay for a hotel room in Copenhagen. For the next 6 months I see loads of ads for hotel rooms in Copenhagen. How is that a clever use of advertising? Utter idiots. I'd much prefer to see random adverts so I can look at stuff I'd never have thought of, you know, widen my horizons. Online advertisers are idiots.

    2) Personalisation risks democracy. Democracy works because we're all told the same couple of stories. We each pick one, then the winner wins. If everyone is told a different story, how the hell can you know what you're getting? That's just manipulation of the populace to get you into power at any cost. I'd ban all online advertising that uses personalisation and make it a serious criminal offence to practice it.

    Just my two cents/pennies, whatever :)

    1. Craig100

      Re: Online advertisers are pretty stupid

      "I'd ban all online POLITICAL advertising that uses personalisation and make it a serious criminal offence to practice it." I should have said ;)

  22. USER100

    Advertising is evil

    That may seem like hyperbole until you actually think about what's going on. Our planet's natural environment is being destroyed - by capitalism in its current form. Advertising is embedded in capitalism. We're constantly buying shit we don't need, because of advertising. Look into the disturbing history of 'public relations' to see how advertising was born. Edward Bernays was one of the pioneers, who heroically managed to get women to smoke (it was previously seen as a maculine habit).

    Even if you have no view about the ethics of advertising and capitalism, there is a simple physical fact which is not being acknowledged by our corporate puppetmasters: constant economic growth is impossible on a finite planet.

    Stuff (trees, minerals etc) is being taken from the environment and turned into products, and waste / pollution are the byproducts. There is more awareness about this than ever, yet rates of production are actually increasing. The corporations own the politicians. As long as that remains the case, nothing will change.

    So yes, I use an adblocker - I absolutely hate all advertising, whether it's in the high street, on TV or online.

  23. Someone Else Silver badge
    WTF?

    "The web doesn't exist in a vacuum," Lawrence warned. "People who are building sites and services have choices for what platforms they target. They can build a mobile application. They can take their content off the open web and put it into a walled garden. And so if we do things with privacy that hurt the open web, we could end up pushing people to less privacy for certain ecosystems."

    Patent bullshit of Trumpian dimensions. No one is pushing people to less privacy. People like to use the web. People (increasingly and inexorably) want more privacy. Browser developers who supply access to the web and respect privacy will win, the others will lose. Simple supply and demand. And a person who is not on the web because browsers are constantly tattling on them is not a person who is viewing adverts or participating on that vaunted (and mythical) marketplace of all things that are.

  24. finlaythethinker

    Try using the Dissenter browser instead of what you might presently use. I find it eliminates most of the unwanted crap that appears in other browsers when accessing the Internet.

  25. Jan K.

    Ah, there's no end to the love and care they all feel for us...

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