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With New Browser Tech, Apple Preserves Privacy and Google Preserves Trackers (eff.org)
89 points by dwynings on June 25, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments



In tandem with their Better Ads enforcement, Google will also launch a companion program, Funding Choices, that will enable CBA-compliant sites to ask Chrome users with content blockers to whitelist their site and unblock their ads. Should the user refuse, they can either pay for an "ad-free experience" or be locked out by a publisher's adblock wall.

Does this mean that Chrome will be directly supporting anti-adblock technology? Will it somehow just disable extensions like ublock on these CBA supported sites?


Key part of the quote:

> publisher's adblock wall

The publisher is the one responsible for using a mixture of Javascript and server-log analysis to detect ad-blocking users and prevent them from accessing the content. As already happens on a growing number of sites.

The change here is that Chrome will now notice when a publisher has served a user a "please disable your adblock for this site to continue" wall (maybe Google will suggest such pages be sent as HTTP 402 responses?) and do something on the browser-chrome level to give users the additional option: using a Google payments system built into Chrome to send the publisher a one-time [micro?]payment in exchange for unlocking that one article, without having to disable their adblocker.

(Of course, many ad-supported publishers also already have ad-free subscriptions that you could sign up for—but they don't tend to bother with one-off per-article micropayments, because going through the whole giving-out-your-credit-card-to-a-web-form flow isn't worth it to read one article. This would avoid that problem.)

Funny coincidence: I pitched this exact thing in the form of a browser extension to a VC firm a few years ago.


Never really thought of Apple as a defender of user privacy, but it does make some sense. They aren't in the market for ads, so there's no reason for them to make their users the product.

I think it shouldn't be surprising that Google acts like this. It seemed likely from the start that their ad blocking effort is mostly an attempt to preserve the ad industry and eliminate third party ad blocking not under Google's control.


User privacy is literally their business model. You pay Apple up front and they never expose your private information to third parties for any reason whatsoever and try to make sure your devices stay private. The cost of your privacy and future software updates through the life of the device is built in to the sticker price. You get exactly what's on the tin.


Most people have realized this - either explicitly or intuitively - over the last 10 years.

Those cheap android phones and lower-end Windows laptops are so cheap because they are subsidized from the revenue they bring in via data collection and selling.

Its like a privacy 101 realization...


> Those cheap android phones and lower-end Windows laptops are so cheap because they are subsidized from the revenue they bring in via data collection and selling.

Not true. Lets see what those "cheap" devices provide in terms of privacy:

1. During installation Windows 10 explicitly asks you what stuff you want to enable and how those affect your privacy

2. Microsoft Edge supports ad blockers and anti-trackers on desktop, mobile version is coming (already here in fast-ring?)

3. Google allows you to turn off all kind of analytics. They email you once a year and ask you to check your security and privacy settings.

4. Chrome allows you to install ad-blockers from Googles own extension store

5. On Android you also have the choice of installing Mozilla firefox which supports desktop-grade adblocker and anti-tracker extensions. Android being android you can make it the default OS browser and disable or remove Chrome completely.

6. On Android you can also install Mozilla Focus which is a privacy-oriented browser

You are basically spreading FUD.


1. Windows 10 explicitly asks you what stuff you want to enable and how those affect your privacy

Where does Windows explicitly ask for permission to spy on your every keystroke and send massive quantities of analytics data back to the mothership?

And, since they're explicitly asking, how can I explicitly turn all that spyware off?

Oh, that's right, I can't. Because your assertion is flat out wrong, if not an actual deliberate prevarication.

How is this even being discussed any more? Haven't we seen enough articles about Microsoft's impossible to disable spyware? Windows 10 is spyware first, and an operating system second.


Are you claiming Windows 10 diagnostics is actually spyware and sends every keystroke and other data to Microsoft?


Thankfully the only Windows I currently run is XP in a VM isolated from the Internet. So I have no personal experience. But the articles are all over the Internet. Here's one I found quickly: https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/5/15188636/microsoft-windows...

Yes, there's plenty of "diagnostic" information sent to Microsoft. You might be willing to trust Microsoft with it, but I sure don't.

Just like they claim the keylogger isn't really that, it's perfectly harmless. Here's an early quote from Microsoft: “When you interact with your Windows device by speaking, writing (handwriting), or typing, Microsoft collects speech, inking, and typing information—including information about your Calendar and People (also known as contacts)…” http://www.pcworld.com/article/2974057/windows/how-to-turn-o...

Is that still current? I don't know, why would I trust them to have removed it?

Microsoft's game is to wear people down. Not everything can be turned off; many things that can be turned off are turned back on by system updates. After a while most people give up and live with the spyware.


> Yes, there's plenty of "diagnostic" information sent to Microsoft. You might be willing to trust Microsoft with it, but I sure don't.

I have not seen any actual analysis of the sent data. I would prefer it didn't send anything but until proven otherwise I will assume it is just app diagnostics.

Remember they are in the business of selling operating systems. EU would happily shut them down if they are caught doing any shenanigans.

> Thankfully the only Windows I currently run is XP in a VM isolated from the Internet

I suspect whatever OS you are using as host also talks to the mothership, it just doesn't say it in a privacy page.


I suspect whatever OS you are using as host also talks to the mothership, it just doesn't say it in a privacy page.

MacOS has telemetry, but it seems to be easily disabled. Is it really disabled? Nobody but Apple knows.

It's safe to say that both Windows and MacOS are chatty. But, for whatever reason, I trust Apple more.

My firewall runs OpenBSD. That's a breath of fresh air. I can run ps and understand exactly what processes are running and why. Definitely no inexplicable TCP connections.


> Never really thought of Apple as a defender of user privacy

Companies aren't laws. Everything can suddenly change.


This is so odd. They say : "While we welcome the willingness to tackle annoying ads, the CBA's criteria do not address a key reason many of us install ad blockers: to protect ourselves against the non-consensual tracking and surveillance that permeates the advertising ecosystem operated by the members of the CBA."

"many" is a link to https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/09/02/why-people-use-ad-b...

Except that page shows that "to avoid being tracked" is actually relatively low on the list of reasons people use ad blockers compared to the annoying advertising issues, malware, etc?


It's relatively low but it's not insignificant. It's still about 39%. Also 60% say its to avoid "intrusive ads".


Two out of five people on the internet certainly qualifies as "many", just not "most".

All of the reasons listed in that survey are just aspects of a single overarching reason to block ads, which is that ads universally degrade your experience of the internet.


The #1 reason to block ads for me is protecting against malware, both for inline drive-by exploits and for scam sites offering backdoored downloads.


This really is crucial for older relatives.


...and eff forgets about mozilla.


I think they do that on purpose. Mozilla presents itself as a good guy and many people still believe that, so those people could get offended and not get the point eff tries to make.

But yeah, Mozilla follows Google in this regard and it's in Mozilla's best interest to preserve tracking and allow advertising industry to "hijack our attention", otherwise they won't get enough funding to exist.


except Firefox is the only mobile browser that you can run effective script and ad blocker extensions. well, on android at least.


Wake me up when Firefox enables its Tracking Protection by default.


They still want users to either view the ads or pay the "publisher". This will never work.

They must start paying users. Only then, will their ads be viewed.


For decades I favored Linux in the desktop, then adopted Android, etc.

In the last year, due to Apple's reasonably good support for privacy, I have gone all-in for iOS and macOS devices. I didn't make this decision lightly, but for me it seemed like the right thing to do.

I favor using Google services that I pay for (GCP, Play Music and Movies) but I am concerned about tracking activities of Google and Facebook.

I think Apple deserves support for respecting customer privacy.


uBlock to block the ads, disable 3rd party cookies to block the trackers. Add a hosts file and you're miles better off than either of these proposals.


No surprise here. Ever heard of AdWords?


Wake me up when Apple has started helping foster a community of developers for Safari plugins.

Chrome is useful because it's so extendable.


I am sorry to say that you are ignoring the importance of privacy, and somewhat flippantly making the case for extensibility over privacy. Safari's (and Apple's) commitment to privacy is to be commended and we should try not to lose sight of it because of our personal preferences.


Apple sells default placement to search engines like Google and Bing. If it it really cared about privacy 1. It would not sell it's customers to Google or Bing as search placement 2. It would put duckduckgo or similar as default.


Once they have intelligent tracking protection enabled though it won't matter what search engine you use, because it will prevent tracking on all of them. Just including DuckDuckGo in the defaults is a huge step forward. I also wouldn't be surprised if it was defaulted if Google keeps trying to circumvent adblocking measures.


This is a fair critique. I wish they didn't sell the search placement in the first place.


The product manager who picked Google likely did so because of user preference.


Oh come on. That is such a completely different issue. There's a serious problem if you can only look at something as a whole and not commend certain aspects of something.


To a person on a vendetta every act is criminal.


Apple has extensions and they have a developer program:

https://developer.apple.com/safari/extensions/

The reason developers aren't all that interested is because these extensions are Mac only not because Apple isn't interested in having them.


What the heck does that have to do with privacy? You make it sound like you think people are talking about which browser is better overall.




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