At its root, advertising is attempting to predict an individual's preferences and subtlety nudge their preferences toward specific buying behaviors.
With more granular and pervasive data inputs, you can arguably do better predictions and thus better targeting.
The only counter to this is either:
1: proof that more individual data /= better ad targeting as DDG is attempting to do
2. Changing the default business model for internet companies
Surveillance capitalism is a natural result of our form of consumption driven economy.
The most interesting thing here actually is that there's an argument to be made that this is also a good approach to building very complex artificial intelligence, effectively aggregating how people respond to input.
3. Legislation that enforces some notion of privacy rights.
Similar arguments of economic necessity can be made for alcohol, tobacco, and gambling providers. All of these products are regulated in terms of how they can be manufactured, marketed, and sold because they have large negative externalities that impact their users. I don't see why surveillance for the purposes of advertising is any different.
If you don't address the Ad market incentives, they will simply find another vector to getting to you. Noam Chomsky has been very loud about this for a long time, well before data gathering was a thing. So it's a long term persistent virus, of which the internet is currently the vector.
Do I want my communications, browsing, purchase and location history to be used to rank me for job applications? To be used to decide which news stories I see? Which products are the top when I search for something generic?
For some the answer is yes, for many it is no. The only way to square this is to restore consent and data decision-rights to users, and to dispel the fiction that continued use of a service represents informed consent to thousands of pages of non-negotiable legalese.
At the end of the day it's too much information for people to understand, handle and sift through to be a tractable solution.
What would end up happening is basically what we have now, consent and data decision-rights end up being proxied by third party organizations, and they attempt to segment the market and find defaults. It would just come right back around to what we have, only with different technology.
Instead, you could legislate advertising to be very restrictive. I think the less systems of paid influence that exist in the world the better, so I wouldn't cry for the demise of the advertising industry.
The tech industry needs to find a new revenue source anyway, might as well just go ahead and force the issue.
My point was not that advertising doesn’t need to be regulated (and that better protections for users/people obviate the need) but rather that advertising is not the only way to duplicitously exploit personal data to for profit.
Instead, I believe abundance of supply does. In the past, there were simply fewer things to subscribe to, so a median family would pay for the local newspaper and cable -- and generations before then, just the newspaper. Rich professionals and the elite would pay for one of the premier papers, and finance paper, and an arts magazine. Fans with particular interests would pay for one or two other serials.
These days, content is everywhere, and much of it is available for free. This is impossible to compete with on price, and has been shown to be hard to compete with on quality and depth of coverage, because it chops off large portions of the market who may have paid for convenience of distribution in the past, but now they don't have to. This leaves even more pressure on those willing to pay. In this kind of situation, the classic resolution is consolidation, which is already underway.
Mike the Millennial is strapped for cash, and so won't pay for content directly. Alice the Advertiser wants to convince Mike to buy her products, so she places ads with Nick the Newspaper. Nick gets money from Alice, to provide Mike with content for no cost.
But doesn't Alice expect a return on that advertising spend? Doesn't Mike ultimately pay Alice more than he would have if he had just paid Nick directly?
I know it's a hell of a lot more complicated than this, but aggregated over all advertising industry revenue, and aggregated over all content subscription revenue, it seems that the ultimate price of advertising (once it percolates down to the consumer) will always be greater than an equivalent cost of subscriptions.
This is sad because advertising is a poor monetization scheme. For instance, let's say you make $0.10 per user through ads. Now let's say you want to increase the price to $2.00 per user. Then oops, you can't, because ads don't allow you to make that much for any given user. So depending on your preferred price-point, which may be variable, you may have to switch monetization schemes, which is terrible.
You can only throw so many ads to a person before conversion starts to saturate.
Current business model: provide "free" online services that are payed for by providing targeted advertising which relies on collection of data about users and building interest models. Advantage: almost 0 barrier of entry for users (all they need is a compatible browser and good enough network). We can probably conclude that most people like such an advantage. The main disadvantage is all the data collection/aggregation, it's unclear how the large population feels about this (in our tech bubble it's easy to think everyone feels strongly against it).
Alternative proposal: pay some subscription somewhere to get access to the online services. Advantage: no need for ads and behavior tracking. Disadvantage: much larger barrier of entry. Now you need a credit card or some other online payment mechanism, your real name/address/zip code will be associated with the payment mechanism, somewhere there are systems/computers that will have enough information to associate your real identity with all the online services you have used (there are technical means to anonymize this association but I don't see political will to force involved companies to do such things, think what will happen in such a situation with something like a Equifax data breach).
The larger access barrier for the alternative isn't just "convenience", think about younger people or people from all over the world in different economic and political contexts where having access to some sort of electronic payment is hard or impossible when right now all they need is a browser and Internet (the latter could of course also be an issue for many people but I'd argue is a much lower entry barrier than having access to a universally recognized online payment mechanism).
Do credit card companies also sell your data?
But that needs to be both effortless for me as a user, and require very little in the way of processing fees. Both of which are not possibilities right now.
Cheap is better than free has always been my motto. Cheap is sustainable, does not require dark patterns for monetization and is transparent to the user.
But in order to get there, we need a way to pay small amounts of money to apps, creators and each other. And do it in a way that doesn't immediately become a lightning rod for economic manipulation and money laundering.
Online payments are hard to do because of lots of legislation around money. This means that it's going to be annoying. There are also many people that can't pay online, because they simply don't have access to these payment methods. You could argue that we will eventually digitize our money and that would solve the problem, but I doubt that that's going to happen any time soon. People would be too afraid that Visa and MasterCard would basically control their life.
The way you might make it work is if you did what Steam does - you can put money onto the platform that you can then spend later. If you had an entire ecosystem built around that then it might be possible that people would do micro payments to content providers.
>I'd much rather pay $0.50 a month for a social network that has no interest in my data than deal with ads or data tracking.
I wonder if it could cost that little. I guess it could.
...and the insatiable content consumption of today's consumer."
Got any ideas?
But the two don't have to go together at all. You can have an ad-driven economy without engaging in widespread spying.
Step 0: publish on your own platform without trackers, not on medium.
Install Privacy Badger by EFF that uncovers and blocks scripts on websites that track you; this Medium page has 2 active trackers that would have been blocked if you did - Google Analytics and Parse.ly
There's nothing wrong pushing links to the article to platforms like HN, Reddit, etc, but the source shouldn't be medium. If you write a piece like this, it deserves to go on a platform without trackers; otherwise it's a bit hard to take it seriously.
I'm aware that medium.com might bring in a broader audience and that it's simple to "publish without starting a blog", but so is doing an HTML export from a text editor these days. It's also similar to adding "why quit Facebook" on Facebook itself - it doesn't work.
The article itself is decent though.
This is the wrong attitude. You should realize that you may not be able to do all possible or necessary measures to protections all at once. That doesn't mean you should avoid doing some of them, and the article talks about that.
So, in other words, if you didn't do step 0, let it not stop you from doing other steps.
Another thing is that we should both educate those who don't know how to shield themselves - and make it easier to be protected. The latter is related to network protocols and processes and to client (and server) software.
Can we simplify Internet?
Just like every other cycle in the human history - abuse until a breaking point is reached, regulations come in, find some other niche ripe for "disruption", repeat the cycle.
Unrelated to the main topic - writing about the surveillance economy in a Medium post, which itself is a textbook example of the surveillance economy devaluates the core message a little bit for me.
What I want is a very small, open source program that I can give my credit card. It will light up little DigitalOcean droplets (and other VPSes to stop potential monitoring from them) and create VPNs here and there. I also want to build my own browser that will be capable of making the rendering happen on these rented-for-a-minute servers then pipe back just the PNG. I also would make certain things local. I can use machine learning to predict which areas of Wikipedia I will probably want to read in the future. This should just be local and occasionally synced. Same with Stack Overflow.
Fingerprint me now bitches. (They still probably can, at least partially. It just raises me up to the top of the trees in the jungle.)
 Though I will say I see the downsides. Surveillance is how we stop malice and per-individual power is going up.
I think you want a browser running on a servet you access over a VNC, which will pipe back just the parts of the screen that have updated.
X2go uses the NX protocol, which is designed for slower links, so it works better across the internet.
This is already happening. I used to mock conservatives and free-speech advocates who claimed that Twitter, Reddit, Facebook etc. were censoring speech unecessarily. I'm pretty far to the left, and obviously I think racist and sexist harassment are bad things...however, these platforms have automated any features that allow users to report "problematic" posts or comments, which makes it VERY easy for people to abuse and mass-report anything they disagree with.
Why would I trust a corporation to correctly determine whether a comment is abusive, or just an opposing point of view?
What does it mean when corporations are in charge of determining what speech is offensive, and effectively control the "acceptable" range of discourse? In the UK a man was investigated by the police for retweeting an offensive limerick - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/01/24/man-investigated...
I don't really agree with what he retweeted, but it still seems kind of ridiculous to investigate someone for a tweet that isn't threatening or violent.
>They know more about us than we know about ourselves or than we know about them
Right so we need to fight for knowing more information about them as much as they know about us
Governments want surveillance the citizen, fine, the citizen should fight for ability to surveillance the government as well.
I don't see how that actually solves the problem.
What anonymous payment options are there (other than many cryptocurrencies)? I do remember the days of sending cash through the post but I don't think that's what the author is suggesting.
That may be exactly what he's suggesting. The VPN provider he works for (IVPN) allows payment by mail by cash.
I'm not buying anymore on theses type of stores (markets and restaurants mostly), but this is keeping growing difficult because every other week more and more business are starting to ask for my 'credentials'.
Simply give (your local area-code)-867-5309 and there's a very good chance that someone's already signed up with that number. If not, I'll complete the signup with that number and whatever bogus name comes to mind. Jacob Blues, 1060 W Addison 60613 works well.
Just like AdNauseam, simply chaff the system until it's futile.
I'm sure there are similar characters in the public consciousness of every country.
The problem is it seems to increasingly become a necessity for participating in modern society.
if anything they make it _more_ obvious who is using your internet connection. Yes, your ISP will be less able to snoop, but you are now exchanging your ISP's complete oversight, with a VPN provider's.
Now, if you VPN is based in the EU, then you have GDPR to help you. However the burden of proof is still on you.
So what can you practically do?
1) container tabs
Each service you _have_ to sign into has its own container. This stops each service like google, facebook, ebay et al form a complete picture of you.
2) check your unique browser ID, https://panopticlick.eff.org/
3) trash your browser's profile every month.
4) on your phone, keep in private mode