back to article European watchdog: All data collected about users via ad-consent popup system must be deleted

All data collected "so far" through the Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) by means of a TC String – part of its consent popup system – must now be deleted by international digital marketing and advertising association IAB Europe. Over 1,000 firms pay IAB Europe to use TCF. This includes Google's, Amazon's and Microsoft's …

  1. Snake Silver badge

    Agree 100%

    You are, all too often, presented with only two options when the cookie consent windows pop up:

    1) Accept

    2) Leave

    A Hobson's choice, you must accept that they will give your system cookies, without express explanations as to how they will use this, or "Get Out".

    I wish the U.S. criminal I mean political system would understand this, and deal with it as Europe has.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agree 100%

      There is a third option: work your way through all the things they put in your way to make you give up and just accept giving permission. Especially that "legitimate interest" scam gets quite a workout in their approach to asking brute forcing permission.

      I think we could really do with a directive that mandates that totally opting out of everything should be as easy as opting in: one click. Anything less is playing their game. Again.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Agree 100%

        The default state should be opted out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Agree 100%

          Actually, it was, even mandated in law - until they managed to get that "legitimate excuse interest" scam going.

          Criminals, the lot of them.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Agree 100%

          Exactly. Zero clicks to opt out, and one click to opt into each consent, not one click to opt into all.

          As for "legitimate interest", no advertiser has any legitimate interest in me. They can all fuck right off.

        3. NoneSuch Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Agree 100%

          Incognito browsing. Close the browser and bye bye cookies. (Yes, there is a bit more to it than that. Just imposing brevity.)

          Every time I see the Europeans kicking Google, Apple, Facebook et al. in the pants for being personal data vacuums, it fills me with hope that humanities rights are greater than corporate bottom lines.

          Then I remember BREXIT and shudder at what we're in for here.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Agree 100%

            Then you realise what brexit was actually about. Especially when you look at the people behind it.

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Agree 100%

        "I think we could really do with a directive that mandates that totally opting out of everything should be as easy as opting in: one click."

        France's CNIL is on that. Watch this space...

        1. David Hicklin

          Re: Agree 100%

          Went to a web site yesterday, looked for the cookies settings but all I could find was a statement that they are always on, and if you want to opt out of Google Analytics then you need to install the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on.!

          Suffice to say they won't be getting my business and I gave them that as feedback...nothing heard yet...

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Agree 100%

        Hmmm yes. Since each time I use Google ( and often there's little choice) they require me to select no no and no for three separate settings and then OK before it'll move- with each setting requiring an active selection- I have to agree.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agree 100%

        That's the approach being taken in France, based on the fundamental simple principle that the opt-out cannot involve more work than the opt-in, i.e. the number of clicks, use of scrollbar to scroll down to see all options that are shown off the page to enable opt-out. The parity between the two choices has to be equal, so that informed consent is valid.

        The only reason question, why has it taken all this time? These issues were being discussed in 2007 onwards and the issues of the default all-in privacy regarding the data hoovering pointless apps accessing Facebook API, that Cambridge Analytical exploited.

        It's all there in El Reg archives.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Agree 100%

          "The only reason question, why has it taken all this time?"

          Easy.

          Technology moves at this speed >.< where that dot represents the interval of major releases of a web browser, usually measured in weeks.

          The legal system moves at this speed >............< where that interval is a fraction of a percentage of the time remaining until the heat death of the universe, usually measured in great multiples of years.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Agree 100%

            Political lobbying by big businesses moves at this speed: >< and possibly faster.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Agree 100%

              >Political lobbying by big businesses moves at this speed: >< and possibly faster.

              Or this is actually by big business.

              If I can specifically target individual visitors by Google/Facebook's data then I can advertise my speciality product to that subset. With no customer data it's only worth advertising if you're ad goes to everyone.

              So worth it for McD / Coke / VW showing an ad to everyone online but not worth it for my startup selling developer tools.

              This levels the playing field back to the days of ITV being the only mass market ad platform.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Agree 100%

                If I can specifically target individual visitors by Google/Facebook's data then I can advertise my speciality product to that subset.

                The key word there, is "if". You can't target your ads at those who have opted out of data gathering, or don't use the sites that gather the data. The targeting data that is being used is also, importantly proxy data. That is, this isn't data about "does this person need XYZ specialised widget" because nobody is giving up this sort of information. That's more like tailoring search engine results, and paying for sponsored links for searches on"XYZ widget", which is a whole different kettle of fish.

                The sort of data we are actually talking about is tracking data that stalks users across the internet making note of what sites they have visited. In this case, it's typically going to be far too broad for very narrow targeting as you describe. It's going to be along the lines of "is this user likely to be male, or female", "what rough age group do they fall into", "what country are they in", "what socio-economic group is their most likely one" and so on.

                Importantly, these are all things I'd like to keep reasonably private, or at the very least, not gathered and stored persistently by some morally bankrupt marketing corporation situated in whichever country has the laxest level of regulation.

                1. Justthefacts Silver badge
                  Go

                  Re: Agree 100%

                  “Some morally bankrupt marketing corporation”….

                  Or just a women’s hairdresser specialising in Afro-Caribbean hair, in Surrey. Who wants the 1000 Afro-Caribbean women in a 30 mile radius around her to know she exists.

                  And rather than try to advertise to fifty million people in the UK, which she could never afford, and most of whom are either men, live 200 miles away, or are white, and would simply be annoyed to be getting ridiculous ads.

                  She plugs into Facebook who know gender, age and location with very high probability, and have a moderate guess at ethnicity. Instead, she only needs to display ads to 2000 women, of whom fully 10% think “hey this is place is cool, I’ll go have a look”.

                  Broad targeting for most small businesses is the difference between it not being economic to advertise at all, and having a moderate return. And nowadays for many it is a matter of survival.

                  If you are a shop selling gothic paintings, high street footfall has dropped off a cliff. Without advertising you simply *cannot* be on the first ten pages of Google or anything else. And that means your customers can *only* buy from some online megacorp. You’re dead. With targeted advertising, you are golden: advertising only to 25-30year olds (younger don’t buy paintings, older have partners who won’t have that gothic s* in the house), you get 20x return on advertising. You survive…..and your middle-class goth customers get unique paintings that make them miserable. Everybody’s a winner.

                  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
                    Facepalm

                    Re: Agree 100%

                    Nothing at all could go wrong with targeting people by race. No sir. It's win-win all round. No disadvantages.

                    1. Justthefacts Silver badge

                      Re: Agree 100%

                      I fully understand your point. We’ve certainly seen similar risks play out in Covid and politics.

                      But actually “Race” itself isn’t a targetable demographic.

                      Alternatively FB Ads can be as benign as: Two people are friends on Facebook, maybe they would both be interested in the same hairdresser.(FB *always* does that. If one person clicks on an FB ad, it’s guaranteed to be presented to *all* their friends within the demographic)

                      Plus two people both like similar pages related to “hair-straightening products”. Perhaps they have enough in common to be interested in the same hairdresser. The problem is that FB algorithms are far less intelligent than anyone believes. It’s nearly as likely to say “both like heavy metal” => interested in same hairdresser (maybe?) or “both like pages relating to Sandy Toksvig” => interested in same hairdresser (well…no)

                      But actually, age, gender and location get you so far into the targeting that the rest is just a bonus.

                      they are similar ages, both of them are women, and both of them like related to hair-straightening products. Maybe they would both

              2. Jonathon Green
                Childcatcher

                Re: Agree 100%

                Have you considered simply advertising your developer tools (hypothetical or otherwise) on a specialist site targeted at the kind of people you’d expect to be in the market for them?

                I think you’ll find that when you get down to that level of niche interest the advertising probably costs less than Coca Cola, McDonalds, VW et-al are generally paying for a front-page, high traffic location.

                Otherwise I’m afraid it’s a short tune on the world’s tiniest violin for you…

                1. Not Yb

                  Re: Agree 100%

                  If only there were some specialist site targeted at developers and people interested in computer science. Perhaps it could be called "The Registrar" or something.

                  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                    Re: Agree 100%

                    But there are no ads on the Register (looks at PiHole and Brave-Browser)

                    Ironically yes it's a big problem in tech.

                    Everybody on el'reg / Stackoverflow has adblockers, nobody is going to trade shows anymore and the few surviving magazines are aimed at C-level execs.

                    Only hope is to get featured by an Nvidia/AMD/Microsoft and pushed to their developer day shows.

                    1. 96percentchimp

                      Ad blockers are as immoral as tracking

                      I don't use an ad-blocker because I've worked as a journalist/content monkey and I'm aware of how difficult it is for organisations like El Reg to make enough money to pay the monkeys a decent handful of nuts (trust me, you get fewer nuts/word than you did 20 years ago, and that's without accounting for inflation).

                      If you want free content - and most people do - then there has to be a compromise between your desire for an ad-free experience and paying the people who produce it; otherwise it's theft, and as a by-product it encourages the ad-slingers to invent ever-more pernicious ways to target you.

                      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                        Re: Ad blockers are as immoral as tracking

                        Poisoned ads are a major vector for malware. Most ads are not a simple static image, but are pop-overs, videos, etc, that hide the content. These have a script component which can be poisoned.

                        The simple solution is to block ads, and block scripts from third-party domains, whitelisting only those I need.

                        Sorry if this breaks your business model, but your business model involves opening me up to identity theft, so tough shit.

                      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

                        Re: Ad blockers are as immoral as tracking

                        And the answer to that is - offer the choice.

                        How many sites that now depend on ads for their running costs have offered the choice ?

                        I use a small number of sites that have done - you can pay an annual subscription and have no ads, or you get ads. And several of those are useful enough to be worth what they are asking.

                        And this is part of the problem - too many vested interests have now educated the general population to expect everything on the internet to be free. It suits Google because they've geared up to massively mine the users to be aggregated and sold, while charging web site owners for the advertising that puts users off using the sites. Faecesborg is much the same. And of course, now they've burned their bridges they are up in arms that anyone dare challenge their business processes - knowing full well that their entire business model is dependent on breaking the law.

                        They've burned their bridges in many ways. For one, they've trained users to expect it all for free - so users aren't going to be keen to start paying. And especially in the case of Faecesborg, they've destroyed any semblance of the trust they'd need users to have in them if they were going to offer a "paid but not creepy" option.

                        It will be interested to see what happens when finally some of these large corporations have the legal process catch up. Will Faecesborg try to offer a paid but not creepy options ? WIll sites in general start asking users for cash ? Will a system appear and get traction to allow users to pay small amounts - i.e. in the order of what the site gets from serving ads to them - for a "pay as you eat" option rather than having to subscribe for a month/year/whatever even if you only ever read the one page ?

                      3. Drishmung

                        Re: Ad blockers are as immoral as tracking

                        If El Reg, or any site, wants to show me ads, just put them up as static content on the page. I'll see them. What my ad blocker does is stop the trackers and the things that could be trackers, including all the dodgy JavaScript.

                        By analogy with a newspaper, there is space on the page that the newspaper sells to advertisers.

                        Instead, too many sites sell through a broker, with the whole real-time bidding thing. I don't consent to my data being tracked in that way. So, that particular method of selling advertising doesn't work. It doesn't mean you can't show me ads, it's just that you have to do it by serving the content yourself

                      4. Norman Nescio Silver badge

                        Re: Ad blockers are as immoral as tracking

                        Ad targetting does not require tracking your internet use.

                        As many point out, static ads displayed by the websites you visit are the Internet equivalent of advertisements in specialist print-media magazines.

                        You target by choosing the appropriate website. Just like it used to be in print media's heyday, you choose which publication to put your product in: Women's Weekly, Good Housekeeping, PC World, Golf Monthly, Speedboat Review, Caravanning & Canoeing, Playboy (text-only ads, of course), What Car, What Hi-Fi, Yoghurt breeder's monthly...

                        Of course, what the advertisers want to know is if the advertisement has been read, and if it converted into a sale. That is one use the tracking is for.

                        Well, sellers managed without it in print media. They can manage without it in online.

      5. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Agree 100%

        "Especially that "legitimate interest" scam gets quite a workout in their approach to asking brute forcing permission."

        Just to waste time while on break at work, I went over to The Daily Mail and looked at their cookie options. It looks fairly friendly with a set of options that are by default unticked. Just don't click on the Vendors tab. All of the pilfer my data options are unticked, but all of the so-called legitimate interest options are ticked. And the list is ridiculous. I lost count/patience after eighty and there were yet more below the point where I gave up.

        Of course, the big concern here is whether or not the request would be honoured if one was to wade through all of that. Given that nobody obeys the DNT header, and you have to tell the same providers to bugger off on each site you visit, I suspect this whole rigamarole is mostly window dressing. Look at our pretty tick boxes, not at what we actually do.

        So glad my browser is an older version of Firefox that has an add-on to automatically wipe cookies after X seconds, and block unapproved scripts and third party resource fetches.

        1. Alpine_Hermit

          Re: Agree 100%

          Which version of FF and which addon ?

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Agree 100%

            60.0.2 for Android, and Cookie AutoDelete 3.0.2 along with UBlock Origin 1.18.6.

            Firefox's add-on site may try to tell you that this stuff won't work with this browser. It's because when it comes to add-ons, something that used to say Firefox aside from the crowd, Mozilla has totally lost the plot. Track down the add-ons manually (in the version history, you might need to Google to find the relevant pages as the add-on site itself is broken when it comes to mobile as it seems to think there are only about a dozen offerings) and they'll install just fine.

      6. Justthefacts Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Agree 100%

        Do you *really* want less targeted advertising though….or just less advertising?

        Because the less targeted advertising is, *the more of it there has to be*.

        Without any targeting, you are going to get *a lot* of adverts for sanitary towels, Stannah stairlifts, gay sex toys, straight sex toys, He-man figurines, Botox facelifts, hair straighteners, Nail Bar vouchers, gym steroid supplements. And I mean *a lot*.

        The internet runs on advertising cash, which is a constant fraction of the price of goods successfully sold.

        If I’m selling goods that are primarily bought by twenty-year old women, but I have to advertise equally to seventy-year old men….. then to shift the same amount of products, the *total volume of ads* needs to increase by x2 for gender, and x5 for age-group.

        Your campaign is ultimately a campaign to increase by x10 the amount of advertising on the internet.

    2. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: Agree 100%

      If it were down to me there would be the option (and defaulted) that says. DO NOT TRACK. Do not hold ANY information about me. I am sick and tired of eBay constantly e-mailing me because i looked at something on their site.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agree 100%

        In fairness eBay's marketing preferences, are pretty comprehensive, if you want to opt out of those emails from the account settings page, but you're right you shouldn't have to opt-out, it should be opt-in.

        I also don't like I'm forced to use Google services, when logging into eBay, and have to go through a Google Captcha. That needs looking at by regulators. If I'm using eBay, I shouldn't be forced to give data to Google to log-in.

    3. Adam Jarvis

      Re: Agree 100%

      The privacy preferences in Outlook.com web mail, is quite interesting / concerning. (again, regulators should look at this) because the Partner Advertisers settings change constantly, so every time you log in there are new names for these partners and by default the new partners get automatically opted-in.

      So even if you have previously opted out using a small switch that isn't labelled, after a while with the number of new advertising parner names, you find lots of blue opt-ins. Also note: this 'temporary switch' was added after the last redesign as a regulation after thought, because you had to manually opt-out of every partner advertiser with outlook.com at one point, which could take 20 minutes to do. There are over 200 partner advertisers A-Z.

      This seems to be by design - to get around the opt-out by using chameleon naming techniques, ever-changing names for the partner advertisers, which are then opted-in, by default, as they are added to the list by MS.

      Clever, and also very devious.

    4. NightFox

      Re: Agree 100%

      I've never really got my head round how if I answer 'No to All Cookies', I don't get asked again on my next visit.

      1. bpfh Silver badge

        Re: Agree 100%

        Seen one site that explains if you reject all cookes, you will still get one cookie that says "no thanks" and nothing else so that the site does not have to ask you again in the future. It's either that or get the cookie warning on each page.

        1. Not Yb

          Re: Agree 100%

          Most of the sites that allow you to reject all cookies will ask you again every time. If you accept cookies, it doesn't ask any more. Annoying by design.

      2. PaulVD

        Re: Agree 100%

        But I DO get asked again next time. That is how I know that my Firefox setting "Discard all cookies when I close the browser" actually works.

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

    I think abstracts would be more accurate than generates.

    1. Rich 2

      Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

      Yes, 41.9 billion, 99% of which goes to googlies and faecesbook

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

      And of course, if that were a justification then there would be no laws against fraud, or political corruption. Though in truth that does seem to be current govt. policy

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

      Worth noting that this works out at about €6 a year for every person on the planet. I can 100% guarantee that those who would benefit from €6 a year added to their income see none of it, and it is not spread out evenly as an "economic benefit" to the global population, but is, instead, all going into the grubby hands of propagandists advertising brokers.

      As you rightly say, this is generating nothing, except obscene amounts of money for very, very few unscrupulous individuals, and everyone else pays for it.

      1. maffski

        Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

        You're right, poor people getting access to services subsidised by advertisers is a much worse deal for them then having to pay the cost to provide the service.

        And if this is 'generating nothing' why are people paying to advertise?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

          Truly poor people, such as those in developing countries are not going to be getting any useful services provisioned for them, paid for by advertising, because advertising to someone with no money is utterly pointless. With the exception of adverts in the form of political propaganda.

          I don't see anyone other than corrupt politicians benefiting from that, either.

          And if this is 'generating nothing' why are people paying to advertise?

          I'll flip that one around on you, and ask,"if people are providing goods or services that people want, why do they need to advertise?" Take a look at most of the ads on the internet and on TV and ask yourself, "would I buy this product if it wasn't for the advertising, and would I miss it if I didn't."

          The fact is, as well, that products that are heavily advertised are often more expensive than those which are not, but are of an equivalent quality. You're subsidising that advertising when you buy the product. People will buy a product they have heard of, at a higher price than one they have not; advertising is exploiting a psychological phenomenon. Most people don't even think about it, and don't realise that they are being essentially being exploited by psy-ops.

          Yes, advertising obviously works, but those who benefit from it are not the consumers, and in a world without it, nobody would be worse off except the advertisers and shysters.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

      Yes, time to funnel that money in something more useful than ads.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Generates annual revenues of €41.9bn

        I say we use it to build a giant laser, in order to etch the name "Chairface Chippendale" onto the surface of the moon. At least that will benefit everyone equally.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Thank goodness we've taken back control and don't have to put up with this officiousness.

    1. badflorist

      Thank goodness indeed. And now it's REALLY time to take back control, with the help of their very own well worded statements...

      "Banning child labor would severely impact an increasingly important economic sector, stifling innovation and dramatically harming the small business community... "

      Thanks David! I'm starting a clothing line immediately!! The glory days are back baby!!

  4. Rich 2

    Lying F****ers

    “69 per cent of Europeans are willing for their browsing data to be shared for advertising, in order to access digital content such as news articles and online video, for free."

    Well that is just outright bollocks

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lying F****ers

      Yes, because it depends on your definition of "free". If "free" in reality means "in exchange for being tracked to witihin an inch of their lives", then it isn't free.

      Honestly, at times I really get sick of this doublespeak BS.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Lying F****ers

        It also depends on your definition of "willing" - "can't be arsed to go and deselect 20 separate tick boxes" isn't the same thing.

        1. Helcat

          Re: Lying F****ers

          You missed something: "Every single time you go back to this site. Unless you opt in, at which point they remember your preferences!"

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Lying F****ers

            Indeed, the only "legitimate interest" they might have is to place a cookie indicating "opt out of all". WITH NO TRACKING COMPONENT.

            1. Not Yb

              Re: Lying F****ers

              Or they could just accept the "Do Not Track" browser request and stop tracking... yeah right, it sure would be nice...

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "69 per cent of Europeans are willing for their browsing data to be shared for advertising"

      The 2019 CMA Online platforms and digital advertising Market study interim report reported an OFCOM finding that "only a small minority of all consumers are happy to share their data to receive relevant advertising. For example, Ofcom found that only 15% of respondents were happy for online companies to collect and use their data to show more relevant adverts or information." [paragraph 4.43]

      Furthermore, it continued: "Further, research conducted by Ofcom, the ICO and Which? all showed that the more consumers understood about how targeted advertising works, the more concerned they became about it, and began to feel less in control of their data and that, in addition, consumers can become less willing to receive personalised advertising."

      So the more folks understand what's being done with their data the less they approve of it. As much of what is being done is kept from the public by proprietary interests, it's quite possible that a high proportion of folks aren't concerned simply because they aren't informed. That would seem a poor argument for the legitimacy of the practices.

      1. Fazal Majid

        Circular logic

        Since they do not put a prominent "Reject All" button next to the "Accept All", the 69% number is as spurious as the alleged consent.

        A better data point: 96% of Apple app users opted out of tracking when Apple introduced opt-in in iOS 14.5, and this was in the US, which is generally less privacy-conscious than Europe. So the real figure is not 69%, it's 4%.

        https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/05/96-of-us-users-opt-out-of-app-tracking-in-ios-14-5-analytics-find/

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Lying F****ers

      The more users know exactly how much data is being extracted, the less of them are willing. That's why ad networks hide behind weasel words to obfuscate exactly how much data they slurp

    4. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: Lying F****ers

      -- Well that is just outright bollocks --

      I have to agree with you, I would have thought it would be 90%+

    5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Lying F****ers

      How do you know?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lying F****ers

      Nah, the vast majority of people are not technical and have zero clue nor care about this subject.

  5. Graham Cobb Silver badge

    The fly reports...

    The IAB's Annual Leadership meeting takes place this coming Monday. Oh to be a fly on the wall.

    I am fairly sure the fly will report that this year's Leadership meeting will result in lots of macho male egos strutting about, with words like "unacceptable", "uninformed", "overturn". And with the side meetings talking about topics like "infiltrating campaigning organisations", "dark patterns" and "calling-in favours in corridors of government".

    Maybe next year's meeting would be the better one to join - when they have finally learnt that their abusive business model is really dead and they need to constructively work on how to replace it.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: The fly reports...

      "they need to constructively work on how to replace get around it"

      There, fixed it for you.

    2. Jonathon Green
      Trollface

      Re: The fly reports...

      They call it a leadership meeting, I prefer “target rich environment”…

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: The fly reports...

        They call it a leadership meeting, I prefer “target rich environment”…

        And close counts using ===>

  6. Robert Grant Silver badge

    > legitimate interest

    I hate legitimate interest. Glad they're smashing it.

  7. MrTuK

    Lets hope EU will do better than they did with the case against Intel and the $1Bn fine !!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The two are completely unrelated in terms of the laws involved but there is no reason to think why they shouldn't. The recently overturned fine was imposed by the European Commission as part of its remit in the Single Market and appeals are built in. GDPR decisions have the full force of the law, with the ECJ already having opined that informed consent cannot be assumed.

      Nevertheless, even in its "failure" the action against Intel did help change the market.

  8. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Just a thought...

    Can we take all the sales & marketing folks, gather them into a ball, & fling them into space on an intercept course for the Sun?

    I'm thinking of starting a GoFundMe to raise the funds needed to build the catapult...

    *Sighs & reaches for my Dried Frog Pills*

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Just a thought...

      "Can we take all the sales & marketing folks, gather them into a ball, & fling them into space on an intercept course for the Sun?"

      It's already been tried. They were put on the 'B' Ark. We are the result, not the solution :-(

    2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: Just a thought...

      Yeah - a post I can agree with - any chance of adding politicians and lawyers into the ball?

    3. FuzzyTheBear
      Happy

      Re: Just a thought...

      In the words of Fila Brazillia during an old show .. " if you're in advertisingt or marketing .. kill yourself " you are the runier of all things good ,kill yourself .. you are fu**** and you're fu***** us , kill yourself , it's the only way to save your fu***** soul " One of their early albums over 20 years ago. Still sounds right today. lol

      1. andy 10

        Re: Just a thought...

        * in the words of Bill Hicks…

      2. Drishmung

        Re: Just a thought...

        Go read The Space Merchants by Pohl & Kornbluth some time. Written in 1952. Pohl actually joined an ad agency as research for the novel. As the Wikipedia article says:

        "... businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge trans-national corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and by far the best-paid profession. Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that the quality of life is improved by all the products placed on the market. Some of the products contain addictive substances designed to make consumers dependent on them."

        To say that Pohl's opinion of Advertising was low severely understates the case.

        "You can't trust reason. We threw it out of the ad profession long ago and have never missed it."

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Just a thought...

          Would you like a Moke Coke?

          1. Drishmung

            Re: Just a thought...

            No, but I think I'll go and buy myself a new Feckle Freezer.

            (From Pohl's The Tunnel Under The World. Also about advertising, and compared to which the world of The Space Merchants is positively Utopian).

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Banning personalized ads would severely impact an increasingly important economic sector"

    Oh it sure will. It will severly dent the revenues of those scoundrels that harvest everything they can in order to produce pitifully weak "targetted" ads that are only capable of telling me what I bought yesterday.

    You don't deserve money you useless fuckers.

    Now, if I buy a UPS in January 2019, and you are capable of reminding me in 2026 that I might be interested in a replacement battery, then that would be another story. Frightening maybe, but at least useful.

    But no. I buy a UPS and on the very next page you try to make me believe that I might want another one.

    Bunch of wankers, the lot of you.

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: "Banning personalized ads would severely impact an increasingly important economic sector"

      @Pascal Monet

      Its not going to be a 7 year lifespan on those batteries ... Ask me how I know. You might get 4-5 if you are lucky

      Keep them cool and make sure you can get replacements quickly when they do go. If you are in the UK, then Tayna batteries are worth a look for anything that needs a new lead acid battery next day.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: "Banning personalized ads would severely impact an increasingly important economic sector"

        Just to add my 5p to that, when I needed a replacement car battery, "Battery Megastore" were pretty good, both on price, and next-day delivery (including delivering on a Saturday). They had much better batteries, than, for example, Halfords (higher capacity and starting current), at about half the price, and they appear to do all sorts, not just vehicle batteries, so probably including UPS ones.

        (I have no affiliation with them, just a satisfied customer)

    2. Brad16800

      Re: "Banning personalized ads would severely impact an increasingly important economic sector"

      Completely agree. Bought a keyboard then every ad I see for the next 3 months is for keyboards. Completely pointless, why would I want another one... if the data collected was in any way useful I'd expect it to show me ads for a mouse or new speakers.

      I'm just wondering when marketing departments realise it's not worth the premium cost of targeted ads.

  10. JohnMurray

    While we are not in the EU anymore, we still retain the GDPR.

    I note that changes to the regulations are planned.

    It seems to me that changes to continue to allow the advertising felons to extract UK data, may well fall foul of the various agreements between the UK and the EU following our departure.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Looking at how tame the EU is when it comes to the massive concerns (and the non-compliance / inadequate treatment of PI data) about sharing data with the USA, I think the UK should be quite safe.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        EU politicians are happy to comply with whatever Uncle Sam wants but the courts aren't.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          And, of course, because we've taken back control the EU court decisions don't count here.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        I wouldn't go that far - but it does depend on "who" you mean when you say "the EU".

        Some elements of the ruling class went out of their way to put a fudge in place to replace the previous fudge that was eventually found invalid. Everyone knows that the current fudge is invalid - but until the legal process grinds through to a conclusion, it's still in place. Comparisons with Nelson and "I se no flags" come to mind.

        But thanks to Max Schrems, the current fudge is under scrutiny, and it's certain to be found invalid when the case finally makes it through all the stages.

        Then we'll be at a crossroads. It will be a lot harder to put another fudge in place because now everyone knows that the EU and US have fundamentally incompatible laws, so it might come down to a case of who blinks first - the EU or the US.

  11. big_D Silver badge

    Contextual advertising...

    I've been saying for years that all this tracking is pointless, the "targeted" ads are generally useless - Google thinks I'm a retired person with arthritis, at risk from shingles and that I have a newborn baby... I am not retired, I don't have arthritis, shingles isn't a risk factor and I don't have a newborn baby!

    Contextual adverts - adverts based on what I'm currently viewing - will probably be more effective, because if I am currently reading/viewing something, I'm probably there because it is of interest to me.

    1. JohnMurray

      Re: Contextual advertising...

      They keep routing personal hygiene products to me.

      Is there an olfactory sensor on iMacs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Contextual advertising...

        No, but it's still OK to take a shower.

        It's simple, really. If flies die around you, you need a shower. If flowers wilt when you breathe on them, brush your teeth*. Easy.

        :)

        * Although dental hygiene has massively increased since people had to wear masks and so finally were subjected to their own mouth fumes

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Contextual advertising...

      The problem (for them) is context-based ads put the sword in the hands of content producers again. You'll have to pay those whose contents attract more eyeballs, not those who hoarded more data.

      All the data they hoarded would become useless, and easy money won't flow in anymore.

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Contextual advertising...

        And that is a problem, because?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Contextual advertising...

      "Google thinks I'm a retired person with arthritis, at risk from shingles and that I have a newborn baby... I am not retired, I don't have arthritis, shingles isn't a risk factor and I don't have a newborn baby!"

      To rephrase that: Google has data to sell to advertisers to indicate that you're these things. Advertisers will buy it because they've no data that says differently. Google, therefore, will be able to keep taking their money.

      Google aren't trying to sell you anything. They're not even interested in selling you anything. All they're interested in is selling advertising to advertisers and the more they can charge the happier they are. That data is worth as much to Google as an equivalent amount of accurate data because they can charge for it regardless. Whether it's worth as much to the numpties who buy it is a different matter.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Contextual advertising...

        But any adverts they sell using that information are pure fraud, because the information is 100% made up and bears no relation to reality.

  12. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

    I do find it surprising that so few of the readers of ElReg have normal, none-techie friends. Those I speak to do not moan about the misuse of the data collected by cookies but by having to continuously click extra buttons to get to the site they want.

    In my case I have "I Don't Care About Cookies" installed, use a browser that deletes all cookies when I exit, don't log into google or amazon unless I need to, don't have a Facebook etc account (yes I know I'm a Luddite), and close my browser when I've finished with it, even if it means starting it again a few minutes later. I don't seem to be bothered by unwanted emails. I must admit though, when I do log into Amazon I'm always amazed at what it will suggest.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      It's just my friends that ask me "why you don't get all the advertisement call we get?" "Because I do not check any YES, PLEASE USE MY DATA TO CONTACT ME VIA PHONE, EMAIL, AND ANYTHING ELSE checkbox I encounter, and I'm very careful about denying that always".

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        I doubt that’s the reason

        I doubt that’s the reason.

        My mother is 88, and has never used a computer or smartphone of any type. She doesn’t sign up to anything, has never had a credit or debit card or supermarket loyalty card (remember them). She has only ever paid for anything in cash or cheque. She’s never had a subscription service of any type, nor anything *ever* delivered to her home, because she “doesn’t want them to know where she lives”. This has been quite a problem during the pandemic as I’m sure you can imagine. The internet supermarket deliveries I order go to her neighbour, who takes them round.

        And yet, she gets several cold marketing calls a day on her landline, which she screens despite signed up to TPS, and several mail catalogues each day of exactly the type you would expect. Gardening, elderly tat jewellery, slippers, weird kitchen gadgets.

        It’s almost as if the internet didn’t really invent spam and demographic targeting.

  13. MJI Silver badge

    Current ads on Amazon are

    Targeted and sensible

    3D printer resin

    A washer / hardener (UV thingy)

    But that is OK as I want the washer thingy anyway to go with my same brand printer.

    Excuse me while I put some free downloaded designs through the slicer.

    All bought from Elegoo via Amazon

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Current ads on Amazon are

      I've not got a real problem with Amazon using my purchasing history on Amazon to determine what "suggested items" to show me on Amazon. This involves only my data that Amazon might reasonably be expected to have, from my use of their site, to provide functionality, on their own site.

      Once you start talking about data gathered from, for example, browsing a completely unrelated site, to target adverts at you from other companies with which you have no business relationship, then this is totally different.

      As it happens, Amazon is pretty good at suggesting I buy things that I just bought, usually as a one-off purchase, or suggesting products related to presents bought for other people.

      When it comes to Amazon adverts on the Facebook app, when I'm using it on my phone, my wife and I often scroll through these to laugh at how inappropriate they are (they don't show up in the browser version, due to judicious use of ad and script blockers). No, Amazon, I don't want to buy that "men's fashion" item that consists of a pair of shiny gold trainers with light-up soles, no matter how many times you show me the same ad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Current ads on Amazon are

        "No, Amazon, I don't want to buy that "men's fashion" item that consists of a pair of shiny gold trainers with light-up soles, [...]"

        But some people will - especially if an "influencer" says it is the latest thing to show you are "cool"**.

        A "Wizard of Id" cartoon in the 1970s had someone saying something like "What idiot would buy a magic erasing flooby?" - and then her husband walks in and says "Have you seen my Magic Erasing Flooby?"

        **or whatever current expression denotes following the latest fad.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Current ads on Amazon are

        I think your experience demonstrates clearly that the advertising networks are just selling junk data. The Amazon ads you see on Facebook are the result of Amazon being sold eyeballs characterised as having particular characteristics. Amazon don't know that they actually belong to a customer whose purchasing history is available.

        Your experience also demonstrates that, like all current search engines, Amazon's search engine is pretty crap and would rather throw an irrelevant result at you rather than nothing at all. I was using a better search engine - written in FORTRAN, I believe, back in the 1980s. I think the difference was that the old engine was written to a requirement to produce good results. Modern search engines are written to a requirement to produce results.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Current ads on Amazon are

        For example, just today, I had to buy a replacement power brick for a laptop (done through Amazon as it's half the price of the one sold by the manufacturer, despite being the same item, and they got me with same day delivery).

        "Products related to your purchase" that Amazon tried to tout included:

        • A plastic paper towel holder
        • A pulse oximeter
        • A diary
        • A roll of brown paper

        Given that they know my purchasing history, and none of these things are those which I am likely to buy, let alone related in any way to the item I bought, I think their algorithms could use a bit of sharpening. I mean, a pulse oximeter is a bit of a specialised item that only someone in the medical profession is likely to want, and I'm pretty sure NHS procurement isn't done through Amazon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Current ads on Amazon are

          A pulse oximeter has become a common home device in many countries. It measures if your Covid-19 symptoms are entering the dangerous area of low blood oxygen levels. That NHS link also explains why Amazon made a diary and paper towels recommendation. The brown paper is the odd one though - unless the nursery rhyme has any relevance.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Current ads on Amazon are

            OK, so you can draw a tenuous link between the "suggested items". Can you explain how they are "related to the item you bought", as Amazon suggested? A laptop power supply.

      4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Current ads on Amazon are

        I've not got a real problem with Amazon using my purchasing history on Amazon to determine what "suggested items" to show me on Amazon. This involves only my data that Amazon might reasonably be expected to have, from my use of their site, to provide functionality, on their own site.

        And here we get into a much murkier area.

        Yes, it's reasonable for Amazon to have a record fo what you've bought from/through them. They have a legitimate interest in holding that in case you want to return something or have a warranty issue etc.

        But, did you give them permission to use that information for any other purpose ? Because unless you gave your free and informed consent then Amazon using purchase history to target other products to you is explicitly illegal under GDPR.

        But as with a lot of stuff, what the law says and what the big corporations know they can get away with - for at least many years - are not the same thing.

  14. Johnb89

    Surveillance equality

    How about we make it a law that the directors of companies sharing ad information have to place webcams all through their house, so we can all watch them the way they all watch us. Webcam placement to be determined by people who like viewing people's private habits.

    Said directors can then 'opt out' of this by not doing that. Simples.

  15. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Happy

    w00t!

    IYA IAB Europe!

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