The thinking behind its Android security update
Is forcing more advertising. Everywhere.
190 million downloads = a lot of people who do not want adverts.
The maker of Adblock Plus is upset its users must jump through hoops to get its advert-banishing app working on devices running Android - the mobile OS made by advertising giant Google. The complaint follows moves by Google that made it more difficult for Google Chrome users to use Adblock Plus as a browser extension. The …
190 million = not that many in real terms. Even though that number is only for Firefox users (which is the only platform it really works well on IMO), I for one can probably account for a couple of dozen or more downloads over the years as I've built new boxes or otherwise moved onto new machines. So maybe that 190 million should be more like 10 million - about the population of the London Metropolitan Area.
To be fair, while I admit that Google have more than a passing interest in ensuring people don't use Adblock, as a security move, they've got a point.
To me, the fact that users can install a proxy server locally without their knowledge sounds like an attack vector begging for an exploit.
If I install "Vegetable Ninja" and later find that my Hotmail account is being piped through a black-hat proxy that's adding a couple of spam messages for every mail I send, I won't be happy.
It's pressure from advertisers, 'hey Google, you'd better remove any addon that prevents my ads from being seen or else I'll spend my money elsewhere!"
The fact that 190,000,000 users downloaded the app makes no difference, Google needs the revenue it gets from the advertising community.
Fixing that requires one pop-up or an additional privilege setting that is required to install the app. Not routing around to an 8 step process to fix it.
I don't use Ad Block and this whole thing reeks of sulfur dioxide as far as I'm concerned.
"The maker of Adblock Plus is upset"...
"What about the fucking users????"
OK 2 points.
I am comparatively ignorant about the proxy server issue.... sort of.
My main grips is the oversaturation of advertising that people do not want or need, being incessantly shoved in our fucking faces all the time.
This irritates me on several counts.....
1. I own a pushbike... and I am very happy with that. Therefore:
a) Stuffing adds in my face for cars irritates me - because.
b) I don't want to see the fucking adds, and
c) I don't want to buy a fucking car.
This purchasing to meet my modest needs only, extends to every plethora of gear used in advertising.
There is also the saturation advertising.....
It's like the local shop keepers...
They have Frontage for their own advertising above the shop awnings. They have the edge of the veranda to stick their own advertising on. They have the big shop windows to stick their own advertising on.
They then extend their advertising out of their space and into the public space, by sticking sandwich boards on the foot path for the passing foot traffic.
They then stick MORE of their own advertising, on their own sandwich boards out between the parking bays and the main road.....
(which I complained about - because after a car pulled in to park and another reversed out and I nearly ran into one of the signs - and it's a fucking road, not a empty lot.)
And they also advertise themselves and their wares in the "Proudly supported by" sections...... and in the local news papers.... and mailouts, and the reach has become sort of all pervasive.
Even the Hollywood scum with their "Hollywood accounting" never float a movie unless it has a ton of product placements in them....
Well the main thrust of my case is that the ONLY advertising that is really appropriate, is the advertising of the products or services, on the site of the people who are supplying them.
This assumed right to shove endless amounts of advertising, in peoples faces, at all times, about all things, has gone from something like "the shop keepers, advertising their own services from their own premises", into a fucking plague of advertising.
And many of the advertisers are stupid fucking human beings..... sticking flashing adds in the middle of columns of text..... "Like OH Duh - lets piss off the readers SO much, that they either leave and never come back or they are finally driven into looking for ways to block the adds....."
Then they whine about the loss of readers....
Then you get the adds that slide up or down the sides of the screen, or in from the side of the page, or the pop up layer adds that cover / block the whole page, that you have to click on to get rid of.....
And the fucking arseholes at google, they just don't get it - shoving 10,000 adds a day in peoples faces for shit they generally don't want or need, simply wastes their time, and it's an annoyance.
Much of it is outright stupid.... It's a fucking plague of advertising....
They searches are filled with adds. They have adds in the search results, as well as the search results, they put adds in the Gmail, they put adds in the Youtube, they put in adds about buying adds as adds......
I have read news papers from 200 years ago, and they SOLD the news, where the content of the paper was the news, and there was about 10% of the page space used on adds.
Now news papers have like 90% of their total space used for adds, and they generally have skimpy low IQ stories about stupid brainless bullshit, or the sensationalist headline grabbers - and the spectator sport crap of politics.
And even the most clueless of readers are saying, "There is nothing but shit in them - not worth reading."
Anyway, without Add Block Plus, and Element Hiding helper for Add Block Plus, Flash Block etc., and a few other things....
I would not even come to this site...
But the idiots who run Google, there may indeed be legitimate technical reasons for crunching add blocking in android - but if they were allowed to run rampant - as they have, for every ONE person who becomes so irritated that they go and hunt out and install Add Block Plus and Element Hiding Helper and Flash Block etc., there are probably another 50 people who are seriously irritated by all the adds, and there are probably other 50 other people who simply refuse to use the internet much at all.
Google is like the shop owners who have gone from the sandwich board on the sides of the street, to putting plaquards in the front yard, and signs on your house walls, and then a free interior wall papering as well....
Stickers on your TV screen, labels in the toilet bowl, advertising screen printed on your curtains....
They are just so fucking all intrusive and all pervasive and so fucking unrelenting and........
Out of pure spite, I might just go pay a heap of money to Add Block Plus, just to get my own back on Google.
Nice rant, I thought. Summed up in this bit:
Oh4FS: "(...) shoving 10,000 adds a day in peoples faces for shit they generally don't want or need, simply wastes their time, and it's an annoyance."
It's all very well to say "This site is free to you because it is paid for by advertising" BUT when I have no intention of buying any products or services, then it's just a waste of my time. When I need to buy something, I seek it out and then maybe hand over the dosh. Waving stuff in my face while I'm busy watching Greatest Kitten Fails just gets my back up and I won't buy it.
I suppose its a shame the local device doesnt do it, but that might limit battery life and increase resource usage so I can see why they use a proxy. I am worried it'll mean Opera with Opera Turbo will have the same problem as thats sort of the same thing (Except lowering file sizes rather than removing ads)
How is it evil for Google to protect their business interests? Everyone knows that Google makes their money primarily from advertising, they're not trying to deceive you. Morally I think it is probably more evil to use something like AdBlock Plus while taking advantage of Google's tools and services.
they're not trying to deceive you
Bwahahahahaha, sorry. That's a keyboard for the wash. As far as I can tell, Google HAS been deceiving people. For one thing, calling a service free when you're paying with personal details is not free at all, but the deception lies in the "helpful" explanations of their service. They're actually scary - someone must have spent a lot of time with NLP techniques and lawyers creating these.
Of course, any action taken to protect business interests must necessarily be good, eh?
My computing device. I get to decide what it downloads and displays. Don't want to serve me content? Go ahead and block me, I'm cool with that. Just please don't try to tell ME what to do with MY device.
"My computing device. I get to decide what it downloads and displays. Don't want to serve me content? Go ahead and block me, I'm cool with that. Just please don't try to tell ME what to do with MY device."
Playing devil's advocate with that, wouldn't Google be entitled to say something like "Our app store / OS. We get to decide what it provides and uploads. Don't want to use our systems? Go ahead and run something else, we're cool with that. Just please don't try to tell US what to do with OUR software." ?
It's a genuine conflict with neither side exactly in the wrong - I block adverts but also use sites like gmail and The Register which depend on advertising revenue to keep running. I'm aware this makes me something of a useless sponger in their eyes.
If a business model COMPELS people to do something against their wishes, or leaves them no out, or cuts them off from information, then why would that NOT be evil.
Advertisers who cannot penetrate need to find a better way to reach people rather than rely on or pressure Google to wholesale screw over those of us who want or need the ability to keep our devices stable, junk-free, and our concentration undisturbed. What's next, advertisers demanding to interrupt our non-querying sessions to force us to "inject" or "inhale" the adverts?
Google did essentially the same to APN setting last year, blocking it on ICS and later. They have so far completely ignored all requests for some alternative solution, shown no interest at all in the apps it broke or the users it's inconvenienced. They didn't even list it as a change, just went ahead and quietly killed it.
They can make as much noise as they like, Google will not change this and it's unlikely they'll even read the complaints. It's the Google way, they don't do feedback from anything smaller than governments. And they don't pay much attention to governments.
So unless the EU threatens to fine Google (and it would have to be something big like a 10% GAP fine or so), Google will see it as just The Cost of Doing Business.
From the discussions I have had so far with people close to the EU case it appears there is strong awareness of that fact, and the very last shred of leniency that may have been available has been removed by that fool that stated that the US might consider a trade war over the right to be forgotten. You really have no idea how strongly people object to idiots trying to bully them, and politicians are no different. If anything, it has probably assured Google will get the sharp end of an axe in its neck because it will be taken as a route to aggressively demonstrate that the EU is not going to be cowed. It hasn't exactly helped either that Brussels was suddenly awash with US lobbyists, it demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of how the EU works and its culture.
What is more interesting is that I received indications that there are apparently cases pending in the US itself against Google. I'm not sure if this is true, but we'll soon know. I suspect the coming month may demonstrate to a number of people that certain statements are simply not made in public without consequences.
That changes the entire complexion of it really, to my mind. If this app enables people to run the ad funded versions of apps without the developer getting the ad revenue then fair play to Google. If you don't want ads on apps pay up for the full version, find an alternative or write one yourself.
I don't like ad-funded apps. I either pay for the app or Ifind one that doesn't have adverts in it.
I think I might be in a very tiny minority...
Still have adblock installed anyway. It catches a few of the more troublesome "adverts" that would otherwise reduce my browsing experience to a series of jerky slideshows before the browser gave up and crashed under the strain.
Your mind must have better logical reasoning skills than mine.
I don't see the fundamental difference between blocking the revenue of a developer who is ad funded vs blocking the revenue of a website who is ad funded.
In fact I suffer the same level of guilt when I leave the TV and make a coffee during those ads that are paying for that very show.
That said, I haven't installed adblock on my mobile yet. It lives on my desktop because websites were showing ads that got in the way, made a racket or otherwise consumed half the resources of my PC. On the mobile it hasn't been as bad.
"In fact I suffer the same level of guilt when I leave the TV and make a coffee during those ads that are paying for that very show." That was a joke, wasn't it? Wasn't it??? Please tell me it was - it will bother me all day that there may really be someone so totally brainwashed by the capitalist propaganda ...
The clue, I think, is in the bit where he's watching TV. Battle all you like, when you're watching the gogglebox you've already lost the war and might as well turn your brain in at the nearest re-education facility.
And I never said my system was perfect. However, it's only on mobile. At home I selectively whitelist sites that I want to support, but I'm always ready to drop them off it again if they start flinging "dynamic" crap around in an attempt to upsell my user experience or whatever the buzzwords are these days.
Although not ideal for ad-block the ability to proxy traffic IS a fairly nasty hole to fall into if it is done unexpectedly. Given the blind trust smartphone users have in apps not being malicious its proably a good move.
At least the 8 stage process cant be done without your consent!
Fortunately adblock+ still works as an addon in Firefox Mobile - although I don't like FF mobile's UI as much as Chrome Mobile and only use it where I encounter sites with excessive or obnoxious advertising like ... well ... this site for example!
Seriously, a side-scrolling overlay advert, El Reg?
Your only excuse is that it's a filtering challenge to get rid of readers who aren't technically competent enough to disable/get around it.
And that's the thing with obnoxious advertising, they get all the reasonable ones blocked too by default. I dare say the advertisers don't give a damn, but the websites who rely on the income should.
Regardless of the outcome for adblock, I'm pretty sure this trick was used by some dodgy app to redirect me to unwanted sites from time to time. So a hole plugged is always a good thing.
That said, maybe they should provide an alternate (safe) way, but it probably goes against the very basics of how Google and many app creators work. The ads pay the developers of the apps AND of android.
I agree with their decision, I would like to be able to set a proxy, but would want ME to have to do it... or at the very least have a BIG alert asking me for permission before allowing the change...
I would also like the ability to revoke permissions for apps, and if it breaks the app, so be it...
>How many of you really thought that Google released a free OS just to be nice?
Funny I thought they released it for free because they weren't responsible for developing a good portion of it. One could reasonably argue without open source software Google would be a very different company if they would exist at all.
Adding *another* permission is a pointless exercise - the vast majority of users install apps from the Market without even looking at the list of permissions so adding yet another permission would not protect users in the way the maker of Ad Block is suggesting. The hole was a major security hole - and really - if you want to be able to run something like Ad Block it should not just work out of the box - people seem all to quick to forget that the web is largely free because it is sponsored by advertising, remove the advertising and we would all have to pay. I don't have a problem with more technical users blocking ad's system wide - but this definitely should not be something anyone can do just from downloading an app. Incidentally - here http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=40506 is the thread where this was talked about.
But, clients ARE cattle: they get prodded, led around, feed what the sales engineer wants, they eat, they breath, they spew flatch, the burp, and they become the meal for the company taking them out to pasture. Some are "serviced" ("serviced", as in the pre-70's term, as in impregnating the animal) as test beds and alternative market mouths, and some are udderly milked to the bone.
Hahahaha, I dare say customers ARE cattle. They just THINK they are in control.
I've been using my Raspberry Pi as an adblocker running Privoxy - only works on my home network but it's still handy for the various ios / android devices I own.
I did get a bit of a backlash from Reddit from techhie bloggers who run ads on their sites though.
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I think we have too many children around here these days.
Some of us have grown up and come to the understanding that "I want everything that everyone else's got and I want it now and I want it without paying for it" results only in your having fuck all and feeling very pissed off about it.
 Yes, looking at the ads is "paying for it"....
Does this actually affect anyone who knows about computers & stuff, like the people who read El Reg? It's an eight step workaround - that's all - and if it's too difficult for the masses to comprehend then they get to look at adverts, as they do when they're watching the mindless drivel on TV. Not our problem.
I'm sure most of us round here won't be that troubled by a bit of minor tinkering.
Are Google within their rights? That's up to them. Will I "carry on up the Android"? That's up to me. And no, Mr Fanboi, I don't care what you decide is right for you - we're different, see?
While I'm ranting, I'll let you into the best way I've found to get rid of in-app adverts. Simply pay for the app ... no ads, and a warm fuzzy feeling that you're not such a freeloading git after all.
Now where's my beer ....
Just last December they started curating Chrome extensions and blocking third party installs under the flag of security as well.
Sure, security is nice, but was this local proxies thing ever a problem? I can't find any examples of apps using it for nefarious purposes, only for actually useful things.
Also, doesn't it show up in the app permissions?
It is HIGHLY possible and probably VERY likely that a large number of governments and well-funded state projects use ads as vectors to keep tabs on people. What better way than overt covert app install? Just use the 1-pixel thingies, the self-spawning and reanimating from the dead cookies do the work. But, since some government projects probablly user the same TOR and other ratsnest havens of spamware, malware, and other bots, they must be getting ensared with the non-government criminal and government criminal detritus. Hence, their effectiveness at penetrating and peripherally ensnaring their targets is being hampered.
Just a half-baked idea/thought...
YES it was a problem, it is a way to sniff out data, what if you use your mobile to do internet banking? with a proxy app like this they could sniff out your login details and then empty your bank account...
The one thing we do need is the ability to refuse permissions after install, or even install while refusing some permissions... I.E. I want Facebook, BUT I might not want it to be able to access my contacts, but the app asks for that
"because malicious programs can use it to intercept users' data and endanger their privacy"
Google, don't make me laugh. YOUR mobile phone platform is the one where where reading if the phone is in the course of making a call also blabs phone numbers.
In fact - to quote your own help text (Android 2.3.6 or something): "READ PHONE STATE AND IDENTITY Allows the application to access the phone features of the device. An application with this permission can determine the phone number and serial number of this phone, whether a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like."
So for a video or music application to keep an eye on the phone status so it can shut up and get out of the way when a call is taking place, you are by design quite willing to leak the phone's serial number and the numbers of both myself and the person I'm talking too.
Plus my older phone defaulted to broadcasting my WiFi password to Google "for the purposes of backup". Plus two of my Android phones require me to consent to anonymous tracking before I can make use of GPS functionality (with, as I pointed out in the past, no clue as to what data is being sent, how many Kb, and who to; I have none of that information and no choice to opt out yet I am expected to consent to this before I can use a specific advertised functionity of my phones?). Finally, the permissions is accept ALL or NONE. Without rooting the device, the app programmer defines the permissions, the end user cannot fine-tune this.
So with all of that in mind:
F**K your pathetic excuses of "security". The Android security model is appalling. We would probably be outraged if we had the faintest ideas of the stuff our phones habitually leak, only the system is tied up in such a way that we probably won't ever really know. You make loads of money off of advertising, this is specifically blocking an advertisement blocker. We are not fooled.
[whoa, Daily Mail rant much? ;-) ]
For versions of Opera other than Mini, the proxy service is available as "Turbo Mode": recommended for use on low-speed networks. Desktop installations can find an icon on the lower left (looks like a speedometer) that will let you toggle Turbo Mode, and it will recommend it if it detects a slow network. Opera Mobile keeps Turbo Mode tucked in the settings and allows for the ability to be kept on, kept off, or toggled on whenever one isn't in a WiFi zone.
Even following the set up as advised still gives you no end of problems.
On 4.1.2 and 4.2.2 even when correctly set up you get no end of time outs, proxy errors and general malfunctions.
It didn't use to be like that. I'd be happy doing whatever set up so long as the end result worked and allowed me to have a serviceable phone and tablet.
It's pretty simple to me:
We tend to think of Google as being a search company or a mapping company or a phone OS company (or even a phone / tablet manufacturer, with the Nexus line), but they aren't - they're an advertising company. The only reason they provide all of these free goodies is so they can place lots of revenue-earning ads in front of us.
If their "price" for selling me a great phone (Nexus 4) and tablet (Nexus 7) at excellent prices, which both run a great OS (Jelly Bean 4.2.2) with a great "Personal Assistant" function (Google Now) and "search" and free mapping / navigation that really work, is that they place targeted ads in front of me when I search / navigate / whatever, I can live with that bargain.
The obvious corollary is that if we all block the ads, Google will get insufficient revenue to continue to support the Android platform, and good luck getting products of similar quality and functionality out of an open-source equivalent. How many "normal" Android users (I'm not talking about the "geeks") are "excited" about Ubuntu for phones and tablets, and will be dropping Android to go Ubuntu? No? I thought not.
If the alternative to ad-funded Android is iOS (with Siri and Apple Maps!) or Windows Phone (with what, exactly?), I'll take Google's ads, thanks!
Oh yes - and I am actually happy to PAY for Apps and games (what a novel concept!) that do what I want, which sorts out a lot of the more obnoxious pop-up ads etc. I'm happy to click-through ads on Apps that I'm trialling, or which are just a bit of fluff for occasional entertainment.
The big issue these days is ownership of the OS. Be it Google, Apple or Microsoft. They all have their own interests and polices and their common goal is to separate us from our money in one way or another. It is old news that the best way to extort money from your customers is to set up a monopoly of some sort. As it is not legal to monopolize the market itself, (as IBM had to learn the hard way), they try to establish vertical monopolies by ownership of the OS and by controlling what software can be installed. This is the driving force behind the App shops. And it does not end here. The next step would be to control the installed media, too. You want to read a book? You want to listen to music? Only one shop to buy from? You don't like the price? Too bad, isn't it?
To be fair, Google seems to be the least extortionist of the big software vendors. They still allow you to install 3rd party software. Another hope is Canonical, but they might just still not be there. Their App store sure is, however.
Maybe in four years time when 50% or more of the Android users out there will be running version 4.1.2 or higher it will be a problem, but when the lions share of Android handsets are on pre Ice Cream Sandwich this isn't really an issue.
The only people who seem to use the latest Android versions are those who like to tinker and are using custom ROMs so no doubt they'll find their own way around it, so they can continue playing games they downloaded for free which should be funded by ads without ads.
It may not be that nice for makers or users of ad-blocking software, they may even be singling out one of the most popular products in this field, but as the title of the article reminds us, Google is in the business of ads therefore adblocking is their nemesis, they have considerable resources and many ways to exert them so why is everyone so horrified when the proverbial bear sh*ts in the woods?
I really don't understand how or why advertising pays so much. Are there really a significant number of people who are so stupid and so shallow that they allow their purchasing decisions to be influenced by advertising?
What really makes wonder whether I should be laughing or crying, though, is that the "targeted" adverts I see on the web are predominantly for things I thought about buying a month or two ago, and I've since either bought one or decided not to buy, and I've moved on. These ads are *never* going to work on me -- and that should be obvious even to even the smallest-minded parasite of an advertiser -- so what's the point.
The way to get rid of advertising is to ensure that nobody ever buys anything that's been advertised.
Trouble is, look at spam (which is ad-bombing cranked Up to Eleven). The cost to deploy even a bazillion ads is so low that the return from JUST ONE HIT usually pays for ALL of it, meaning all the others are pure profit. And given that there's gonna be SOME sucker SOMEwhere (thus nullifying the "everyone block them" angle since JUST ONE is needed), the odds of a return are in the advertiser's favor.