(If you've ever been seen pigin' out on turtledove pie, you'll understand.)
Last month, Google withdrew a poorly received web proposal for ad management called PIGIN, short for Private Interest Groups, Including Noise, and replaced it with a better branded spec called TURTLEDOVE. Though more appealingly named, the sequel, which stands for Two Uncorrelated Requests, Then Locally-Executed Decision On …
Only if you see privacy as an absolute, all-or-nothing quality.
I don't generally walk about naked in public, but there are people who I'm OK with seeing me that way. (E.g. my family, or any doctor I happen to be consulting.) "Privacy" includes the option to reveal private things to select people, on the understanding that they won't be more widely shared.
If Google can insinuate itself onto that list of "select people" - if not for you, then at least for a significant number of its users - then it can totally square that circle.
"... any doctor I happen to be consulting."
In that case you might as well have let Google see you naked...
Google-bashing aside, this is exactly why this all-or-nothing mentality exists towards privacy - for years the web giants have been grabbing every bit of data they can, often regardless of the morality of doing so, and trying to claim it was an accident/mistake when caught.
All-or-nothing privacy is years of privacy abuse coming home to roost - personally, I trust Google - or Facebook, or any of the other "big web" companies - with my data about as far as I'd trust Rolf Harris to babysit my kids.
So, your policy is not to let doctors see you naked? Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, there really is a very significant difference between Google and Facebook. Google takes your private information, with or without your consent, and keeps it to itself. There has never been a credible report of their bulk data being leaked or sold to a third party.
(There's a good reason for that. Their business model involves managing the flow of information between me and their customers. If their customers could get hold of the information Google has about me, they wouldn't need Google any more, they could contact me directly.)
Facebook, on the other hand...
And that's why I personally am OK with sharing many things with Google.
Does your doctor follow you into every shop you visit and try to flog you cream for an embarrassing condition which you may not even have?
We have strict legal, commercial and social restrictions for those entrusted with privacy offline. Big Tech? Not so much.
The blocker stays on.
> I don't generally walk about naked in public, but there are people who I'm OK with seeing me that way.
Right -- the people you've given permission to see you naked.
> If Google can insinuate itself onto that list of "select people" - if not for you, then at least for a significant number of its users - then it can totally square that circle.
If someone has not given Google their informed consent, then Google has not squared that circle even if a significant number of its users have given such consent. Google is still being abusive to those who haven't.
> the system depends on Web Bundles (websites packaged as a file),
"Web bundles" are an absolutely terrible idea that needs to die. That they may be used in order to further erode privacy makes them even worse.
> that new APIs are "a necessary part of the broader goal of stopping tracking on the web."
No, they're not. This is a bit of a disingenuous argument. They may be a necessary part of finding a way for Google to be able to continue doing business as usual while reducing tracking, but they're certainly not necessary to top tracking.
Perhaps. But can that JS phone home? Can it collect data (such as for fingerprinting purposes)?
> "I think something like TURTLEDOVE is feasible, and is necessary for dropping 3p cookies without trashing web sites' ads revenue,"
That may be the case -- Google seems to be trying to drop third party cookies while replacing the functionality of third party cookies -- which pretty much makes dropping those cookies pointless. Personally, I couldn't care less if web sites get their revenue trashed because they're reliant on this sort of advertising. This sort of advertising is an attack on users, and sites shouldn't be able to benefit from it. Of course, we all know that by "sites", what Google means is "Google".
I've been following what the online marketing press and sites have been saying about all of this, and it's getting even more frightening and antagonistic. What they're talking about now is coopting sites that require users to log in with accounts, so that the marketers can make use of that first-party data themselves. What this means is that those of us who are concerned about privacy need to stop having accounts on such websites.
Stopping tracking on the web by making me doing all the tracking so that ad companies just come into my browser to collect the PII ? Like bees going from flower to flower ? What a jerk! This shows the considera... no, the contempt Google has towards people using their browser. And the guts they have to tell the world they're doing it for our privacy.
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I recently got engaged, which meant for a while I was looking at diamond rings. I then bought a ring. Still getting only ads about buying more diamond rings.
It made it extremely subtle what I was up to, every time my lady friend would glance at my computer there would be an ad for engagement rings up on the screen. Thanks google!
there's no other way to put it, if the bulk of their revenue comes from ads, there's NO (...) WAY they'd have ANY interest in making LESS profit from ads, no matter how much they polish the turd. It's just a PR stunt (cuddly 1000lb gorilla with a PRIVACY!! FRIENDLY!!! grin). And to undercut any remnants of ad competition.
But most of those sites, surely, are those which have been set up purely for the purpose of monetising their visitors?
Where people are already trying to buy something (Amazon, eBay, online shops in general) you don't see adverts; you're already looking for something they want.
Where manufacturers run their own web sites - be it electronics makers, knitting wool providers, or anything in between - you don't see other advertisers (though they may advertise other things in their product line, and why not? It's their site.)
Where people with a special interest - lacemaking to analogue photography to classic cars to alien conspiracies - get together (or even on their own) and pay their own hosting to share their interests their primary purpose should be just that, not hanging advertising off it.
What's left? News? I'm happy to pay for that, given a suitable subscription model (hello, El Reg, where's your twenty quid a year option?). Clickbait sites? They exist *only* to monetise advertising. Social media? Same thing. Porn sites, ditto - it's another guaranteed clickbait selling punters to advertisers.
And the whole 'oh, puhlease don't turn our adverts off with your nasty blocker?' argument? It's rubbish. Whether I block or not, I'm permanently paying the cost of that advertising as a hidden tax in every single thing I buy. I may not be able to opt out of paying someone's advertising budget but I'll do my damnedest to avoid wasting my time with the crap.
Really, how many people have gone out and bought a product based on seeing an advert, when they haven't already been actively seeking that product?
@Neil: This made me think about why I don't like the current model. In the bad old days I bought all sorts of magazines from Everyday Electronics to Q and some that might have had more pictures than writing. They all contained ads for stuff I didn't want, I'd just bought or plain didn't apply to me, but the only ads which really annoyed me were the inserts in mags and the scratch-n-sniff pages made of stiff card which made the mag a pain to read. I never considered that by paying £3 for a magazine that I shouldn't see adverts too and I don't remember ever getting really annoyed by turning the page and seeing a full-page advert for something.
I guess the problem today is that nearly all the web advertising is the equivalent of the inserts in the mags; then, I used to shake the mag over the bin before reading it, now I run an ad blocker. I think where the ad industry went wrong wasn't primarily in the data collection and tracking but in the way they hijack web pages in an attempt to force their ads into our attention. I don't really mind a passive picture of some trainers sitting at the bottom of the page, even if I've just bought a pair. What pisses me off is the page being hijacked with a slow-loading, noisy video that pops out and stays in my vision even if I scroll past if (I'd willingly kill the c**t who invented that), and as a result I block all ads.
> I guess the problem today is that nearly all the web advertising is the equivalent of the inserts in the mags
That's not the problem I have at all. The problem I have is the spying that comes with the ads. If print magazine advertising spied on me, I would have had the same reaction to that as well.
This effort by Google is intended to preserve their ability to spy. They just want to move where the data being collected is processed from their servers to your machine, that's all. Doing that makes it no less objectionable.
I'm a sample of one, but here's my experience in this respect.
My site has Google Ads on it. When GDPR was becoming a thing, and Google _finally_ gave us the option, I turned off behavioural targetting.
The ads are now chosen based on the content of the page (as crawled by Google, rather than "real time").
> "I think something like TURTLEDOVE is feasible, and is necessary for dropping 3p cookies without trashing web sites' ads revenue,"
My ad revenue has grown considerably since then, and not in proportion with growth in traffic. My explanation for this is that the ads are *better targeted* based on the surrounding content than they are if they're based upon stalker-ware. So there may be some truth in the idea that people prefer better targeted ads, but what that actually means is they prefer more relevant ads. Google and other advertising networks are seemingly crap at making ads more relevant with stalkerware.
As a "publisher", I wouldn't go back to behaviourally targeted ads. Quite aside from the moral side of things, the un-targeted ones seem to be far more profitable. (I also don't run any anti-adblock stuff, the ads are there to help me keep the lights on, but if you don't want them then blocking is fine with me.)
> but what that actually means is they prefer more relevant ads.
But I can't help but toss this in -- if the price for privacy is that ads aren't relevant to me at all then that's perfectly fine by me.
It does seem logical that people would prefer ads that are relevant to the context, rather than targeted. On the other hand, I can't imagine that the Google guys would not experiment with that as well, and chase whatever brings more cash. As far as I know, the ad money is always split the same between Google and the website, targeted or not, so their interests ought to be aligned here.
It's the dark matter of the Internet: People who like targeted ads, click on all of them and make Google all its money.
I don't get the "people prefer targeted ads" schtick, what with the targeting being so rubbish (as already mentioned). But why do we need to target the user directly? We know they are interested in the topics of the page they are viewing (or at least they should be) so why can't the Ad be based on that? It worked in print and broadcast advertising for decades.
Brave CEO Brendan Eich took aim at rival DuckDuckGo on Wednesday by challenging the web search engine's efforts to brush off revelations that its Android, iOS, and macOS browsers gave, to a degree, Microsoft Bing and LinkedIn trackers a pass versus other trackers.
Eich drew attention to one of DuckDuckGo's defenses for exempting Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains, a condition of its search contract with Microsoft: that its browsers blocked third-party cookies anyway.
"For non-search tracker blocking (e.g. in our browser), we block most third-party trackers," explained DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg last month. "Unfortunately our Microsoft search syndication agreement prevents us from doing more to Microsoft-owned properties. However, we have been continually pushing and expect to be doing more soon."
Democrat lawmakers want the FTC to investigate Apple and Google's online ad trackers, which they say amount to unfair and deceptive business practices and pose a privacy and security risk to people using the tech giants' mobile devices.
US Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and House Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA) requested on Friday that the watchdog launch a probe into Apple and Google, hours before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for individual states to ban access to abortions.
In the days leading up to the court's action, some of these same lawmakers had also introduced data privacy bills, including a proposal that would make it illegal for data brokers to sell sensitive location and health information of individuals' medical treatment.
Brave Software, maker of a privacy-oriented browser, on Wednesday said its surging search service has exited beta testing while its Goggles search personalization system has entered beta testing.
Brave Search, which debuted a year ago, has received 2.5 billion search queries since then, apparently, and based on current monthly totals is expected to handle twice as many over the next year. The search service is available in the Brave browser and in other browsers by visiting search.brave.com.
"Since launching one year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation in order to give users the privacy they deserve," wrote Josep Pujol, chief of search at Brave. "The web is changing, and our incredible growth shows that there is demand for a new player that puts users first."
Google has a fresh list of reasons why it opposes tech antitrust legislation making its way through Congress but, like others who've expressed discontent, the ad giant's complaints leave out mention of portions of the proposed law that address said gripes.
The law bill in question is S.2992, the Senate version of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), which is closer than ever to getting votes in the House and Senate, which could see it advanced to President Biden's desk.
AICOA prohibits tech companies above a certain size from favoring their own products and services over their competitors. It applies to businesses considered "critical trading partners," meaning the company controls access to a platform through which business users reach their customers. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta in one way or another seemingly fall under the scope of this US legislation.
Apple's Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP) in Safari has implemented privacy through forgetfulness, and the result is that users of Twitter may have to remind Safari of their preferences.
Apple's privacy technology has been designed to block third-party cookies in its Safari browser. But according to software developer Jeff Johnson, it keeps such a tight lid on browser-based storage that if the user hasn't visited Twitter for a week, ITP will delete user set preferences.
So instead of seeing "Latest Tweets" – a chronological timeline – Safari users returning to Twitter after seven days can expect to see Twitter's algorithmically curated tweets under its "Home" setting.
A group of senators wants to make it illegal for data brokers to sell sensitive location and health information of individuals' medical treatment.
A bill filed this week by five senators, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), comes in anticipation the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling that could overturn the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing access to abortion for women in the US.
The worry is that if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade – as is anticipated following the leak in May of a majority draft ruling authored by Justice Samuel Alito – such sensitive data can be used against women.
Updated Another kicking has been leveled at American tech giants by EU regulators as Italy's data protection authority ruled against transfers of data to the US using Google Analytics.
The ruling by the Garante was made yesterday as regulators took a close look at a website operator who was using Google Analytics. The regulators found that the site collected all manner of information.
So far, so normal. Google Analytics is commonly used by websites to analyze traffic. Others exist, but Google's is very much the big beast. It also performs its analysis in the USA, which is what EU regulators have taken exception to. The place is, after all, "a country without an adequate level of data protection," according to the regulator.
Google is winding down its messaging app Hangouts before it officially shuts in November, the web giant announced on Monday.
Users of the mobile app will see a pop-up asking them to move their conversations onto Google Chat, which is yet another one of its online services. It can be accessed via Gmail as well as its own standalone application. Next month, conversations in the web version of Hangouts will be ported over to Chat in Gmail.
American lawmakers held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss a proposed federal information privacy bill that many want yet few believe will be approved in its current form.
The hearing, dubbed "Protecting America's Consumers: Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Data Privacy and Security," was overseen by the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Therein, legislators and various concerned parties opined on the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) [PDF], proposed by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
After offering free G Suite apps for more than a decade, Google next week plans to discontinue its legacy service – which hasn't been offered to new customers since 2012 – and force business users to transition to a paid subscription for the service's successor, Google Workspace.
"For businesses, the G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available after June 27, 2022," Google explains in its support document. "Your account will be automatically transitioned to a paid Google Workspace subscription where we continue to deliver new capabilities to help businesses transform the way they work."
Small business owners who have relied on the G Suite legacy free edition aren't thrilled that they will have to pay for Workspace or migrate to a rival like Microsoft, which happens to be actively encouraging defectors. As noted by The New York Times on Monday, the approaching deadline has elicited complaints from small firms that bet on Google's cloud productivity apps in the 2006-2012 period and have enjoyed the lack of billing since then.
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