back to article Aggrieved ad tech types decry Google dominance in W3C standards – who writes the rules and for whom?

Earlier this week, 20 web advertising companies wrote to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)'s Advisory Board to ask that the standards organization revise its governance process to prevent ad tech giants like Google from running roughshod over the concerns of others with an interest in the web. "We believe that the W3C …

  1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    I look forward to the day...

    ... when 'personalised advertising' is not 'impeded.' We need it wiped out entirely.

    "Google is ruining the web for everyone," says a peddler of surveillance, slow sites and drained batteries. To borrow a line from Sir Pterry, "There's enough brass in his neck to make a doorhandle."

    Putting aside my resevations about Goggle and Faecesbook (and they are many) let's look at how they achieved their dominance. They both offered something people want, whether search or a way for non-techie folks to publish their thoughts. Then they charged with ads. Everyone else in the online ad industry is leeching off of what others contribute. Yeah, 'outsourcing,' blah, whatever.

    I'd like to see somebody produce ads in the way that made Google their first billion. Discrete ads, clearly visible as such. No real-time auctioning. Can't see anybody going for that though, not sexy enough.

  2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge


    If Brave are so concerned about the privacy issues resulting from Chrome's dominance why are they using it? We're back to the situation when Microsoft's dominance was near total. We Need More Firefox.

    Actually we need more than two browsers, but it is now almost impossible to create a browser engine. It has been deliberately made over-complicated, so that any not yet complete work can't help but fail. The DRM spec in particular is a blocker, one attempted project was denied a licence to implement it. End of competition.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Brave

      You can happily use light browsers like Netsurf (or even Lynx). You just need to manage your expectations and not use terrible websites.

      I do believe more developers should create Javascript-free sites and stick to useful CSS without jumping on to the latest gimmick. For example, there is absolutely no reason why El reg should not render in Netsurf.

      We should be the ones leading the industry, not the other way round.

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: Brave

        I would lead, but nobody ever follows.

    2. thames

      Re: Brave

      The DRM spec hasn't been a problem for me, using Firefox. The only time that I've gotten requests to install DRM is from ads, and I'm quite satisfied to ignore those. If anyone is using DRM for any purpose other than to deliver ads, I haven't seen it yet.

      So far from my experience, DRM plug-ins have been like Flash after Youtube started supporting video without it. It was almost entirely ad vendors who stuck with Flash long after it was obvious that it was a dead end, and I wasn't going to cry over not seeing animated ads. There may have been a few niche applications that used Flash, but none were ones that I ever saw.

      Someone will undoubtedly chime in with some niche application that uses DRM plug-ins (or Flash), but it will be something that I've never seen and have no interest in, thereby proving my point. I don't have any DRM plug-ins installed, and I don't miss them.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Brave

        "The DRM spec hasn't been a problem for me, using Firefox."

        That might be for one of two reasons. Reason 1: you don't use DRM. Reason 2: Firefox includes it. It has since version 47 and it looks transparent to you. It's used on various streaming platforms, but compatible browsers see it and it works without showing the user. So perhaps you do use it and you don't know.

        The problem is that other browsers can't just drop it in, both because it's proprietary and because Google owns it and gets to control quite a bit about how it's licensed. If Google says no, then the application can't use their browser to play any DRMed content, and this means most in the public come to see that as a failed browser. This would be a lot like flash except it actually got itself adopted and people don't see it as blatantly; they don't know what to blame when it breaks things.

        1. thames

          Re: Brave

          I'm using Firefox 78, and I have no DRM modules installed. I just checked the plug-ins list to make sure, and there are no DRM (also known as CDM) modules present. I'm using Ubuntu 18.04.

          When a web site wants you to use DRM in Firefox, you get a small message at the top of the window saying that there is a request to use DRM. If you click on the button to use it, it will download and install the DRM module. As I don't do that, then it has never been installed on my PC. You are probably referring to the Google Widevine CDM, which I don't have.

          The only sources that have requested to install DRM have been ads, and I've really had no reason to download DRM modules just to see ads.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @doublelayer - Re: Brave

          Those guys from Mozilla are real gentlemen. At least so far they offered the option to uncheck the box under "Play DRM-controlled content". And I do that. With pleasure.

          I'm not a pirate but if the content owner doesn't trust me and feels the need to DRM it then I do not need his content. And I'm just fine with that.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: @doublelayer - Brave

            Of course, it can be removed. The point is less that and more that a proprietary blob which is controlled capriciously by a commercial entity got itself adopted as a standard in a supposedly open and independent standards body. Because that happened, users are having that DRM pushed into their browsers, mostly not knowing this. That may have been somewhat harmless because relatively few places use it (I don't have it installed either), but it is not a good sign for things to come if we let companies interested in forcing their will on the standard control the creator of the standard. Whether those are really big or medium-sized ad companies doesn't matter; it should be for internet users and developers, and it should be open.

  3. Peter Prof Fox

    We don't all need the latest

    I'm not 100% sure how all this works but a relentless monthly upgrade, all or nothing, is irritating and unnecessary. I don't have my car go to the garage every month for removal of X, addition of Y and interface 'improvements' to Z. Many of us customise our browsers with no-script and ad-blockers only to find a browser maker has deemed them 'unsupported'. The same for all sorts of niche plug-ins. Why can't we have a 'fix stream' of patches without the add weird features some wonk thinks is cool and removing other functionality.

    1. thames

      Re: We don't all need the latest

      You can have a 'fix stream'. It's called Firefox ESR. An ESR release is supported for a year, with only bug and security fixes.

      I use Firefox daily, and it is fast, stable, and uses much less RAM than browsers such as Chrome. I use the regular release rather than the ESR release, but the regular upgrades are transparent to me and the way I normally find out that I've had an upgrade is when I read about in The Register. If that doesn't suit you, then use the ESR release and only upgrade once per year.

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    The W3C has always been a pay-to-play club, as is common for many industry bodies. It was because of Microsoft's dominance of it that Opera and Mozilla founded the WHATWG to get web standards development started again. The advertisers are welcome to do the same again. Or pony up enough to get seats on the W3C board.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Boohoo

      But, as you point out, some of the standards are now under WHATWG control - i.e. the major implementers. (Which was a breath of fresh air, and meant standards started progressing again.) So ponying up won't get them control of everything.

      And the other problem with seats on W3C or an independent body is they have no way to make vendors follow whatever standard they devise.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    As long as I have a browser that accepts the use of NoScript, Google can go and do whatever it wants at W3C. It can push all the proposals it wished for, it doesn't make any difference.

    Ads need JavaScript, and NoScript kills that.

    Long live NoScript.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: NoScript

      NoScript also kills a lot of functionality, a Pi-Hole works a lot better.

  6. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    It ultimately comes down to power - the power resides with the implementers (providing they can persuade users to go along). If you want power - pay for devs to work on these projects.

  7. Mike 16

    Standards and BigCorp

    This is not recent. Just off the top of my head, RCA managed to get the FCC to move the FM broadcast band, _after_ it was allocated and infrastructure was built, driving the inventor to suicide. Same lovely folks changed the Color TV standard ex-post-facto. Now, in that case, their proposed standard was at least plausibly better, but the main effect (intent?) was to cripple CBS (a competitor to RCA's NBC).

    As for "just say no" to such crap, note that unless your sites uses whatever The Big G is pushing, you can expect to be shuffled _way_ down in search results.

  8. DS999 Silver badge

    I don't know who to root against here

    I don't want the ad tech firms to get their way, they are scum. But I don't want Google to have even more of a monopoly on web ads than they already do, they are a different kind of scum.

    The real problem is that Google collects personal data from so many sources that losing generic server side tracking ability like cookies doesn't affect them very, because of Chrome and Android giving them so much access to user side tracking the other ad tech companies lack. Another reason they need to be broken up, and Chrome and Android (and Search) need to be in the separate hands of companies that act as a data broker who can work with many ad brokers, not a monopoly data broker combined with a monopoly ad broker.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: I don't know who to root against here

      A curse on both houses.

  9. CRConrad

    It's funny how these arseholes can't even see what massive arseholes they are.

    "If that happened in the telecom industry, it would be a nightmare. It would be like if your handset suddenly stopped working."

    No, it would be like if my handset stopped interrupting my calls with a lot of unwanted recorded commercial messages, i.e. started working a little better.

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