More on Web Trackers

Glenn Fleishman on his blog talking web ads/trackers:

But that assumes further that we have been disclosed with perfect knowledge every bit of JavaScript code and every image tracker and every site database and third-party database used in relationship to us when we visit a site, along with what information about us is being recorded, how it will be retained, how we opt out initially, and how we get the information removed later.

Because all of those arrangements aren’t disclosed on our arrival the first time (or ever), and require substantial hunting or the installation of a third-party desktop extension, like Ghostery, to assemble, can we be said to be bound by them? The implicit agreements there take way, way too much from us without informed and affirmative consent. It’s an unequal relationship.

Further, sites using one or more third-party network rarely know all the details of how information about their visitors will be used. Multiply that by dozens—I had 76 different remote items load on a recent visit to a major media site for which I write—and there zero

Emphasis mine. Man does Glenn nail this one. I implore every one to read the entire article. He starts with a nice analogy before elaborating into why the system is broken. All of his points are exactly my issue with it. It’s not about the ads themselves, it’s about all the data mining and tracking that goes on without your implicit consent. It’s the creepiness of seeing an ad for an exact item I was browsing at from the exact site I was browsing it at when I somewhere else on the web. It’s amazing to be that even the hardcore tech people I know are just finding out how horrible this actually is. I have been using Ghostery for years, and assumed that it was common knowledge in Nerdland. If people who work in tech are this surprised then the average person must really have no idea.

People are mad at Apple for allowing people to write iOS content blockers. It’s the same way content companies got bad when set top boxes (like the Roku) became a thing. Never mind that people could stream Netflix to their computers already, now that it was so easy to hook up to a TV, everyone cared. Content blockers aren’t new, they are just mainstream now. But like everything else, companies will adapt. iTunes didn’t kill music. The lack of Flash on iOS didn’t kill the web. Everyone having a smart phone didn’t (permanently) cripple cell providers. Instead one could argue they made all of them better for consumers. That is what is going to happen here. And the sites will quality content could really come out ahead.

Right now no one wants to pay for content on the web. There are too many sites to read for anyone to really be able to charge money. Heck people aren’t willing to pay $2 for a piece of software. But what if the model shifted hard? If the concept of content blockers dries up revenue from a traditional sense, companies will be forced to make money other ways or die. That could mean that the amount of available content decreases, lowering supply, but not demand. That could allow quality content creators to charge for their content.

Either way, the current model has to be changed. And if companies block me from viewing their sites because I am disabling their shady tracking code, so be it. I’ll go elsewhere.