back to article Behind Big Tech's big privacy heist: Deliberate obfuscation

"We value your privacy," say the pop-ups. Better believe it. That privacy, or rather taking it away, is worth half a trillion dollars a year to big tech and the rest of the digital advertising industry. That's around a third of a percent of global GDP, give or take wars and plagues.  You might expect such riches to be …

  1. jwatkins

    We want your data so we can sell it (yes/no?)

    Seems simple?

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Close, but they don't want to sell the data, only their 'insights' gleaned from said data. And not 'sale,' but 'rent.'

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      > We want your data so we can sell it (yes/no?)

      Come on, you won't bother asking the idiots, will you. Not only it's a waste of time (which is money), there is also the risk they might say "no", and what would you do in this case? Refrain from milking that cow? Certainly not, so you would be breaking an accord and putting yourself in a bad legal position. On the other hand if you don't ask, you can never be accused of not keeping the agreement...

      TL;DR: Their goal is to make money, not be understanding and polite.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Cats find cats

    Hello, look over here! Do you like our nice tricks? Yes? Then please let us inform you of many more tricks. It is all free! Click here to start your benefits.

    Most people do not think and simply click here when a toy on a string is held before there eyes. Just like the cat on the video. They are the cat on the video and, of course, kind seeks kind.

    1. nobody who matters

      Re: Cats find cats

      That kind of sums up the attitude of the masses very well. I will just put this here:

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-61603624

      Sadly, it says it all :(

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "We value your privacy"

    Oh but they do, and they know exactly how much they value it.

    Down to the penny.

    1. bonkers

      Re: "We value your privacy"

      We value your privacy...

      It's what we sell.

  4. ThatOne Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Hear hear

    Nice article, but it also highlights the issues: How do you control a cartel with an income bigger than the GDP of several bigger nations? You and what army of lawyers and lobbyists?

    Europe's GDPR was most likely an outlier, something which slipped through before they closed the gate, and now everybody is trying to catch it and put it back into the sac. Because [anti-EU propaganda] and [misquoted free market arguments], decorated with some sweet gifts where it matters.

    The point is, the ad giants are already so big they consider they don't have to respect laws and governments, and generous lobbying makes sure the governments are fine with it. So, what's the solution? Wake up the dormant and complacent masses? Good luck with that.

    I'm happy I don't have kids. I wouldn't want them to live in what promises to be a cheap version of the world of Matrix (without the god-like heroes, cool fireworks and sexy latex clothing for the dames).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ThatOne - Re: Hear hear

      How do you do that ?

      Put aside some principles of what we know as democracy (they no longer exist anyway) and use force. Something like the China way. It's the only way a government could rule that army of lobbyists and act in the (real) interest of citizens. Oh, and tax those big tech mercilessly.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: @ThatOne - Hear hear

        Yes, that approach always ends well. Nothing sounds better as a future than a war between governments that have cast off the burden of democracy and corporations that view people as resources to be mined. And by the way, neither is the victory of either of those sides. I hate Facebook for what they do, not who they are. Replacing them with another entity doing the same thing, whether a company or a government, is not going to fix it.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: @ThatOne - Hear hear

        > It's the only way a government could rule that army of lobbyists and act in the (real) interest of citizens

        You're working on the naive assumption that everybody else has the same agenda and interests as you. Unfortunately this isn't true: The government feeds off the lobbyists, so they definitely won't want to harm them. Do you pester your boss to reduce your salary? Neither do they.

        Second, governments never act in the interest of the masses, they just pretend so to get/stay in power. Governments are self-serving and the only way to make them serve not harm the masses is by aligning both their interests, which unfortunately isn't easy since they have little in common.

        China's government is indeed hitting hard anybody who looks like he might gain too much power and influence, but it's certainly not to safeguard their citizens' privacy, it's simply to preserve their exclusive control over them. It's one of those cases of "aligned interests" I mentioned, and a good example of how it works, and unfortunately also of its limits.

        (Didn't downvote you though.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Europe's GDPR was most likely an outlier"

      No, it shows the difference between EU and US, and partly, UK (although you have also Orban and not only him in the EU...).

      In EU privacy is a people's right, a citizen one, not a "customer" one. Having suffered some dictatorships shown how dangerous is losing privacy. Also, companies are not regarded to have all the rights just because they make money. Call it the socialist heritage somewhere, or the catholic one in other places, whatever. Lobbying efforts are powerful, but they don't always win.

      US meanwhile lost the anti-trust will it had at the beginning of the previous century, and started to look at people only like "consumer", non "citizens". Only "shareholders" look to have rights.

  5. WolfFan

    For the Apple haters…

    It seems that, according to the article, Amazon is #1, Meta is #2, Google is #3 & 4, Meta is #5, and Google is #6. This means that Apple can’t be higher than #7. They, however, get equal billing with Amazon, Meta, and Google. Hmm. One wonders where Microsoft places, and how Yahoo does.

    Interesting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @WolfFan - Re: For the Apple haters…

      Who's Yahoo ?

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: For the Apple haters…

      it only proves that Apple pays its lawyer more than the companies that were fined...

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: For the Apple haters…

      Apple doesn't do much advertising. Basically they do in the App Store app and a couple other places, none of which would benefit much from collection of personal information. They get one or two percent the revenue from advertising that Google or Facebook do (in both cases making up nearly all their revenue)

      The haters argue that Apple is collecting all your data anyway, just to be bastards I guess, but they have little financial incentive to do so. So it isn't surprising they aren't drawing the big GPDR fines.

      1. elaar

        Re: For the Apple haters…

        To be fair, Google gave Apple $15billion last year so that it was the default search method on Apple devices. So that payment helps Google collect data from Apple's users.

        Besides, you're comparing companies that derive most of their turnover from private data with one that doesn't, which seems rather pointless. Samsung isn't in the top 7 either.

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Re:, just to be bastards

        > The haters argue that Apple is collecting all your data anyway, just to be bastards

        No, not (just) for that.

        It's because it is cheap and easy to do, and just might, at some point in the future, be extremely valuable.

        Personal data should remain personal precisely because it's value is not always immediately obvious.

        -A.

    4. RobLang

      Re: For the Apple haters…

      Apple and MS are under investigation; I can only find $10m to Apple from the Italian regulator but that isn't strictly the EU using GDPR because.. A Wired article^1 explains the one-stop-shop where Ireland is responsible for litigation against a dizzying number of big tech including Apple and MS. There is an incredible backlog by the looks of it. Details in the article.

      I'd imagine that Apple and MS will come off well (but not perfect) because their business models aren't around advertising. Apple's brand particularly relies upon privacy and IMO they are bigger privacy regulators than many governments.

      I wouldn't ascribe favorable MS bias to El Reg; MS regularly gets eviscerated - largely by their own hand!

      [1] https://www.wired.co.uk/article/gdpr-2022

  6. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
    Joke

    I performed an analysis of FB terms & conditons

    using a neural network trained against BJ speeches, to extract the condensed meaning of the text.

    The result is below:

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: I performed an analysis of FB terms & conditons

      You forgot the 'up yours' sign.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's MUCH worse than that.........

    ......because there are many large data sources which are out of the reach of the law..................

    Examples:

    - Governmental entities selling property tax data

    - Governmental entities getting ready set to sell every medical record (likely to Palantir)

    - Hackers selling credit data (e.g. the Equifax hack)

    - ClearView AI scraping billions of photos from FB....and selling them to the police

    - Did I mention Palantir? (Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2018-palantir-peter-thiel/ )

    .......and not only is the data out of the reach of the law.......unknown entities are AGGREGATING these sources into even larger "big data" applications.

    This aggregation has one minor and one major problem:

    - [Minor] GDPR is (still) a joke

    - [Major] Private individuals HAVE NO IDEA about the aggregation......nor have they any way of validating the data aggregated about themselves

    .....and you thought Google was a problem!!!

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: Property tax data

      Sell? For many left-pondians, it's given away for free!

      I can look up the Public Data Records for my apartment when I moved to this state/county, and both my former and current homes (both in same township; apartment was a different one), and even my parents' home back in $another_state.

      These data/records include ownership record/terms of sale/price, current and previous taxable values, building info, and even my quarterly water/sewer bills (I don't even have the paper copy yet but it's due in less than three weeks according to the site -- I hate quarterly billing!).

    2. Bartholomew

      Re: It's MUCH worse than that.........

      My solution would be that only harvesting companies can mine the data, that would mean that a search warrant would be required for every instance of access for each individual. No more easy dragnet access for US government departments, effectively resurrecting the Fourth Amendment.

      To me the interesting part is that the data harvesting companies are all legally separate from the data mining companies. This IS by design and a requirement for them big juicy government contracts.

      If they were not setup exactly how they are, it would be illegal for the US government to use their services. But since the data is up for sale, it legally loopholes the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    3. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: It's MUCH worse than that.........

      Your government is not obliged to do any of those things.

      If it does then at minimum it should make clear to its electorate what its doing (and why) and, better, ask them for approval. And should that electorate, in aggregate, approve, allow dissenters to opt out.

      -A.

  8. John 104

    We only agreed to the ad tech armageddon because it happened bit by bit, and we refused to believe where it would go.

    Maybe you agreed to it or didn't see where it was going. Anyone with half a brain who was paying attention saw this coming a mile away. But, as was said in the coments here, we are the cat. The humans of the world have been conned in what will probably go down in history (if it is allowed by our tech overlords to be written) as one of the biggest bamboozles ever. A race to the bottom by consumers lured by shiny 'free' stuff to put us where we are today, in a fully surveyed world where everything we do is tracked in one way or another. And people do it willingly.

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      And I'm only allowed one upvote for that.

      Yes, some of us saw where it was heading, but when faced with the majority of the population who are "what's the problem ... ooh shiny", we were never going to get anywhere.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        How Many Times Have People Told You

        "If you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide"?

        In rebuttal: "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.". --Cardinal Richelieu.

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: How Many Times Have People Told You

          And the famous US 'custody for own protection or own welfare'.

        2. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: How Many Times Have People Told You

          The quote I found from the Cardinal de Richelieu is a little bit different:

          "Avec deux lignes d'écriture d'un homme, on peut faire le procès du plus innocent", translated by Google as:

          "with two lines of writing from a man, one can put the most innocent on trial"

          Richelieu was too wise to tell the "six lines " sentence so abruptly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have a friend who is fully aware of that, but he can't stay away from the fashionable items they sell.

    2. Frank Thynne

      Not Just Privacy

      I could say exactly the same of almost all software development. The lack of regulation allows us all to use unreliable products. Our rush to buy the latest ideas lays us open to corrupt or careless development. And it's not just privacy that suffers; it's economic and personal safety too. Bring in Engineering Discipline.

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Any Information Will Only Be Shared With Our Trusted Partners

    You might expect such riches to be jealously guarded. Look at what those who "value your privacy" are doing to stop laws protecting it, what happens when a good law gets through, and what they try to do to close it down afterwards.

    .

    Many jurisdictions around the world noted the unbeneficial effects of single-use plastic bags to the environment, and some banned their import and use by consumers --- others less effectively made consumers pay a small sum for such convenient use, which doesn't actually stop the production... ---

    In the Land of the Free when such local laws were passed by many jurisdictions Democracy leapt into action, and the makers have been able to craft laws forbidding the introduction of local laws restricting single-bag use; sharing the template of this legislation in the corporate way to any other jurisdictions where Liberty was threatened, and now a Thousand Plastic Flowers Bloom !

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      "Trusted Partners"

      Just because Megachain Retailers trusts DataRemarketers L.L.C. does not mean I trust DataRemarketers L.L.C.

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    " How do you control a cartel with an income bigger than the GDP of several bigger nations? [...] Europe's GDPR was most likely an outlier"

    You control them at national level. Provided enough nations collaborate to independently police privacy effectively, the cartels will find it ever harder to jurisdictions in which to operate illicitly.

    However, the GDPR (although a leading standard) is very weak on implementation. For example, in the UK (and probably elsewhere) there is no centralised automatic scrutiny of compliance. Enforcement depends essentially on complaints and dramatic incidents.

    To the recent UK govt. consultation, I proposed that the system under the 1984 Act be resurrected, whereby the ICO would be the repository of corporate data protection policies and Article 30 metadata, allowing it to pre-emptively challenge 'questionable' processing specifications and disclosures. Sadly, there seems to be no enthusiasm for the idea, so we remain in a position where documentation under Articles 13 & 14 (even if intelligible) typically bears little or no relation to what actually is done - in a word, it always has been and remains 'flannel' presented to fulfil the letter of the law without supporting its intent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes. Enforcement. I work in a regulated industry and we were having a discussion about our data. I made a comment on the lines of "it's a good job the regulators aren't properly funded". There was initial laughter and then an eerie quiet.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      > very weak on implementation

      As the AC just above mentioned, making a law is one thing; Enforcing it is another.

      GDPR was a good idea, but from what little I know it's a case of the spirit is willing but the body is weak: Few get prosecuted, fines don't necessarily get paid (at least not fully), and the ad industry is manipulating the masses to push their governments to have it removed (somebody think of the children!).

      That's why I was speaking of an accident a lot of big money is spent on fixing ASAP. I'm afraid the ad lobby will eventually manage to rescind it, or at least neuter it enough so all that remains is an excuse to do nothing.

  11. Mishak Silver badge

    "a 10,000 word section"

    Compliance : FAIL

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      Re: "a 10,000 word section"

      Indeed. And that's going to be one of the areas the authorities are going to have to tackle. But while there is precedence for opaque information not being a foundation for "informed consent", it's a subjective thing and hence harder to convict on. But yeah, 10,000 words is going to be hard to defend as comprehensible to the average users.

    2. Pseu Donyme

      Re: "a 10,000 word section"

      Actually, there should be no need to read these as all processing of personal information should be under fine-grainded opt-in: if you don't opt-in only minimal, strictly necessary processing may take place; in theory the GDPR requires just this, practice (enforcement) is unfortunately another matter. :(

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
        Headmaster

        "minimal, strictly necessary processing"

        includes eveything we do with your information, according to our extremely well-paid lawyers.

        Cheerio! --The Ad Council.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: "minimal, strictly necessary processing"

          I've said it before: the only thing that a retailer needs from me is my name and address, and that only until the mail service reports a purchased item delivered.

          Unless I am actually making a purchase, they need nothing from me at all - not the size of my display window, the brand of my browser or operating system, my browsing history... nothing.

          And purchasing an item does not cause me to have a 'relationship' with a seller.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Re: "minimal, strictly necessary processing"

            The only thing a retailer *needs* from me is payment for the thing purchased. I'll take it home, thanks.

            -A.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who gets the fines?

    Who gets these monies from the fines? If they are actually being paid.

    Or are the fines just treated as a business expense?

    1. EVP

      Re: who gets the fines?

      ”Or are the fines just treated as a business expense?”

      Yes - and it shows that how low one can go. It’s not a new practice, though.

    2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

      Re: who gets the fines?

      The solution to that one will come when the grains-of-rice-on-the chessboard method is used.

      For n-th day of non-compliance, fine = $1000 x 2^n. Court defines compliance.

    3. DJO Silver badge

      Re: who gets the fines?

      ...Or are the fines just treated as a business expense?

      Of course and it kind of underlines the problem with penalties for corporate malfeasance.

      Any fine is paid by the company not the actual guilty parties in the boardroom. The fine will result in a lower dividend, higher prices or lower pay raises for the staff, the board pay and bonuses are unlikely to be affected.

      Until boardroom dwellers are under threat of jail time and personal fines nothing will ever change. Really fines where the board are complicit should be paid from the (overstuffed) board pension fund.

  13. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Solution?

    Just tax holding and processing data that meets the GDPR Article 4 definition of 'personal data' and 'processing'. Don't want to be taxed - then don't process the data of individuals of the relevant jurisdiction. Have a higher rate for offshore processing.

    GDPR Article 4:

    For the purposes of this Regulation:

    (1) ‘personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person;

    (2) ‘processing’ means any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction;

    It produces a revenue stream for the government, and since it costs the companies money, will act as an incentive to minimise use of personal data. Would also provide job opportunities for auditors to check how much personal data was being processed, funded by the extra taxes generated from miscreants who under-report their processing.The auditors could also check that the correct grounds for processing are being used for processing. Throw in a 'de minimis' exception for individuals, and we are good to go.

    Could even be a good replacement for fuel duty.

  14. robertpostill

    100% Agree

    I fully agree with the position taken in the article. We need to be a more responsible industry. That means regulation, especially for those companies that have special access to our data.

  15. heyrick Silver badge

    It's actually quite easy

    "If the companies won't say what data is being collected and how it is shared"

    If they won't say how and what and with whom, then there's no possible way that they can claim to have informed consent. Therefore no data collection is possible, and any that happens should lead not to increasingly larger fines (the companies won't pay this, we will in the end, so we'd get screwed twice) but instead custodial sentences for company directors.

  16. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Don't buy!

    It's quite simple. Just stop buying the stuff advertised by the data hogs. I've already stopped buying anything I see in any advert I find to be intrusive or irritating or inappropriate. It's a small step from there to ignoring all adverts or even actively buying what their competitors sell. If you are buying what is advertised, then YOU are funding those lawyers and lobbyists.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Don't buy!

      > I've already stopped buying anything I see in any advert I find to be intrusive or irritating or inappropriate

      Same here, but do you really think our case troubles the sleep of marketers worldwide? We're a below negligible quantity, and besides you'll need to keep in mind marketing makes its salary selling promises, not selling products. They don't mind if the product doesn't sell, on the contrary: If the product doesn't sell as it should you need more marketing, more money for them!

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Don't buy!

      Don't restrict yourself to adverts you find to be intrusive or inappropriate.

      Just don't buy advertised stuff at all.

      Whenever you buy an advertised product you are paying for the advertising.

      And you create demand for advertising.

      It doesn't matter whether the advertising worked or not, you just paid for it. If the advertising did work on you then you just paid to be advertised to. Feel good? If you bought the product for some other reason, then you still paid, but for no profit (other than that of the advertising media owner). Feel good?

      I'm struggling to think of a product category where you couldn't find out about the products available without seeing advertising.

      But carry on as you were, advertising pays my salary.

      -A.

  17. GcdJ

    GDPR insists on inmformed consent

    There is the GDPR clause requiring "the user" to provide "informed consent" to the "processing of their personal data". This means that the privacy policy must be within the reading ability of all users required to agree to the processing of their data.

    I did my Masters paper on this very clause - this assessed many privacy polices for readability and then contrasted this with the profile of reading ability of their expected users.

    he only company that came even close to meeting this "informed consent" threshold was the BBC. All other companies were dire - this included Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft - it also included various banks, on-line casinos. They could all fined for non compliance to GDPR simply because they can not credibly argue that they have "informed consent" for processing personal data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GDPR insists on inmformed consent

      > There is the GDPR clause requiring "the user" to provide "informed consent" to the "processing of their personal data". <

      There is a requirement in GDPR that *where* the processing occurs via Consent as the lawful basis/condition that the consent must be "freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous". If Consent is not used as a lawful basis/condition then obviously there is no requirement for the consent to be "informed consent" as there is no consent in the 1st place.

      > This means that the privacy policy must be within the reading ability of all users required to agree to the processing of their data. <

      Privacy Notices and other similar information are required to be "understandable" regardless of whichever lawful bases/conditions are relied upon for the processing of personal data. It is a requirement of GDPR Article 12: "intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language, in particular for any information addressed specifically to a child".

      > They could all fined for non compliance to GDPR simply because they can not credibly argue that they have "informed consent" for processing personal data. <

      As I indicated above "informed consent" is required if Consent is one of the lawful bases/conditions relied upon by the organisation - to use your example of a bank, it is highly likely a bank would rely upon Article 6(1)(b) "Performance of a Contract", 6(1)(c) "Legal Obligation" (e.g. for anti-money laundering checks), and 6(1)(f) "Legitimate Interests" (for their marketing activities). They may or may not also rely on Consent.

      Regardless of whichever lawful basis/conditions are relied upon an organisation could have regulatory action taken against them if their Privacy Notice and related information is not "understandable". That would be a failure to meet their GDPR obligations, distinct/separate from any lack of "informed consent" obtained when relying upon Consent as a lawful basis.

      1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

        Re: GDPR insists on inmformed consent

        As I indicated above "informed consent" is required if Consent is one of the lawful bases/conditions relied upon by the organisation - to use your example of a bank, it is highly likely a bank would rely upon Article 6(1)(b) "Performance of a Contract", 6(1)(c) "Legal Obligation" (e.g. for anti-money laundering checks), and 6(1)(f) "Legitimate Interests" (for their marketing activities). They may or may not also rely on Consent.

        You are quite right to point out the other grounds possible for processing of personal data. A lot of people think that consent is always required.

        However, people may get the wrong impression that 'legitimate interests' covers all marketing activities. If you read the ICO guidance, it is not as simple as that.

        ICO: When can we rely on legitimate interests?

        I believe there is significant overuse of the 'legitimate interests' ground, and would really like a test case to be brought. Failing that, an amendment to the law to make the legitimate interests ground a default 'object' (making it almost exactly the same as the consent ground) due to abuse.

  18. Throgmorton Horatio III
    FAIL

    Everybody wants free stuff

    And because everyone thinks everything should be free, here we are.

  19. Johnb89

    Bottom up approach

    As well as wanting regulation, why don't we, as a community, try a bottom up approach...

    Any time you meet someone that works at facebook or google or an ad-tech thing, embarrass them. Ask them if they are ok with what their employers do by way of invading everyone's privacy. Ask them if they know what sex toys you have bought. Suggest that they put a webcam in their shower and post the IP address... and if not, why not?. Push them on it. Suggest that a person with a shred of morality or dignity wouldn't be doing what they, personally, do. Suggest that what they do isn't far off child porn.

    Do NOT listen to their corporate bollocks about 'oh no that's the other guys but we blah blah' or whatever... we all know what they do.

    Google got out of the military AI business because the employees revolted... let's do this one too.

    1. Johnb89

      Re: Bottom up approach

      A further thought on this...

      Reg readers that work in ad tech, at google or facebook or whatever, and surely there are some out there: Tell us why what you are doing is fine. Jump in to the comments. Explain your personal rationale for violating everyone's privacy. Come on, WE DARE YOU!

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Bottom up approach

        Dare accepted.

        The data that we (my employers) get from Google, Facebook, et al, are so obviously bollocks that we only use them because they pay us to.

        This is, in itself, a scandal. And probably illegal.

        The problem is not them. The problem is that advertisers believe what they say.

        Lo-tech advertising platforms are required to pay for audited results. In hi-tech we are supposed to just accept what the platforms claim. Who are we to question them?

        -A.

        1. Johnb89

          Re: Bottom up approach

          Interesting, and thank you for posting. Not wanting to sound accusing here, but wanting to understand...

          So the data you get is, good or bad quality, personal data about people. Whatever the quality, you are still doing that. How does that make you feel?

          You mention they pay you to take it.... but being paid to do something doesn't make it ethical. What if they paid you to, in extremis, stab people? Or listen to conversations that a smart speaker recorded in bedrooms? Where is the line if its not at 'don't use people's personal data without explicit consent'?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wherever you can - lie

    There's no law that says you have to be honest with these creeps. Piss in their data pool (a la Twitter and it's botcount) and the "value" of the data will plummet.

  21. The Central Scrutinizer

    If you were going to buy a car or a house with the sort of terms that Facebook et al set out, you'd tell them to fuck right off. Somehow having a so called free service makes people forget about any sort of rational decision making. "Free" is not "free".

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      That, right there, is the root cause of any perceived problems in this area.

      People really, really, really want free and don't give a rat's arse if it's "free". We are already in a world where any attempt to offer a really good service for money will always be royally fucked if a free service exists or appears even if it's godawful shite by comparison.

      If the legislators ever really succeed in screwing over the internet ad industry, forcing most services to go pay, they'll be rewarded by being chucked out, if they are very lucky, or shot in the ensuing revolution[1].

      [1] There's a good reason why Marx built a system that relied on getting the proles to fight for it, all based on "jam tomorrow". He was a nasty little git who knew damned well that the proles will always be motivated by self-interest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        People really, really, really want free and don't give a rat's arse if it's "free".

        Not all people.

        I am daily frustrated by the inability to actually pay for a service without also having to be advertised to shit by them. Sky and Virgin being prime exemplars.

  22. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Side note

    Too many people don't realise the real cost of abandoning privacy, and many companies play on that.

    A big education effort must be made to tell people what are the consequences of letting their personal data in the end of private interests.

  23. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Total data slurp

    My extended family is having a love affair with the 'Life360' app. Sounds good for keeping track of kids & spouses, right? So what does it need access to the iWatch health monitor for? Crazy....except their product is data about me, and they are not a free app just to service me.

    For reasons outside of the scope of this forum, it was necessary to load the app. No problem. Loaded it on an old device, tethered to my desk, using a trash email and a bogus phone number.

    Hmmm.... Life360 sells data to insurance companies. Maybe I should register a real email & phone number so they can track me. Then leave the device on my desk.

    Result: "Never drives fast or stops quick, safe driver. Lower the rates!"

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