Wow that last sentence really puts things into perspective. How can be reverse course and throw a wrench in the system? We are the makers, we should be able to wrestle back control and do it democratically and get politicians on our side to legislate this ad industry into the ground.
(And yes, I know ads enable a lot of free content on-line. But as countless problems like this show, it's a bad tradeoff.)
I still believe the web can be a free and open market place of ideas.
1. The uplift of targeted advertising is unbelievable until you see the actual statistics. It's like slowly sipping a cup of coffee to wake up versus waking up to snort a line of crack.
2. Advertisers were abused and defrauded by adtech. Which has inspired all kinds of surveillance hellscape because the advertisers finally caught wise and have renegotiated to pay for actual performance only -- not clicks -- actually closed sales. But adtech wants paid if you do your research online, respond to an ad online, and then buy in store. And a whole lot of adtech now allows for that. Attributing an in-store purchase with no customer interaction to a prior web session by that same party.
The benefit of those two factors to the advertisers is such that we can't have a serious discussion about this shit going away without a law which assigns criminal penalties for being a beneficiary of the scheme.
I hate the means by which advertising is targeted today, but I would be lying if I said the format of the ads themselves were more annoying or less useful than the past.
And furthermore it could be a plurality of those kinds of providers aggregating content.
Deploy single-sign-on schemes, and websites might participate in a plurality of programs from different vendors.
But at the end of the day, you'd pay one or two "providers" a monthly sub, they pool the funds, take their cut, and do prorata distribution of the pool based on views, eyeball time, popularity of content, lots of ways.
No need to perform microtransactions from a banking perspective. You're going to eat $20 of web content this month, and so will lots of others. And then those views can participate in the pool and get paid monthly or something.
It will be nice if all the EU residents in one go send a request to remove their information from all the US based media and technology giants who under the guise of changing the world are indeed working to sale more to consumers and make themselves rich.
Something like APPAA - Advertising Privacy Protection and Accountability Act
What would you guys call it? what language is necessary to cover all the edge cases for the deceptive and dirty-playing advertising industry?
As in, being a beneficent party of a targeted ad campaign becomes a presumption of criminal activity.
We have to make the advertisers culpable for the behavior of the companies serving up their ads.
You need to think about incentives. You have two tablets, identical in functionality and performance. But the one without the ads and surveillance features costs twenty percent more. Which one do you buy? Actually Kindle did this for a while (maybe they still do...). I ended up buying the cheaper one with the ads.
For a $20 one time fee you can remove this feature (which can be done after purchase at any time). But most people won't notice the tiny option select on the amazon purchase page that defaults to "with Special Offers".
To make it even more confusing, they make it sound like the better option to pick is the ad-supported version. I mean you are choosing between the model "with special offers" or the one "without special offers"? Most people that don't know any better will leave the default "with special offers" options selected.
But that's why I wrote that advertising-based business models need to be banned. Not discouraged, not badmouthed, but banned. They're anticompetitive and poisonous; when one company starts doing it, others in the whole sector are drawn to follow suit (it's e.g. why it's hard to actually sell apps on mobile or make subscriptions for publications on-line profitable; ad-supported operations create a baseline cost of zero).
Or alternatively, give users ownership of their data like the EU has taken steps to do. Advertising is here to stay and provides its own use. But there could be something that forces transparency.
The genie is out of the bottle at this point. IMHO the only method forward is how do we as a society responsibly allow for coexistence such that all parties are satisfied.
> Making it illegal won't solve much. E.g. FB doesn't sell private information, they sell the ability to target demographics.
You just need to appropriately specify what's being made illegal. You're right that FB could weasel out of a law that outlawed selling private information. They couldn't weasel out of a law that outlawed monetizing personal data without user consent.
Make their only defense be cooperation in prosecuting the offending party.
Canter and Siegel was in 1994.
Sounds like a union? Also sounds like Galt's Gulch. Weird dovetail, there.
The kicker is that tech workers are in a FAR better position than the other groups that are pushing or considering a general strike. I suppose that makes the prospect more viable, but also more dangerous to the stability of the overall economy. I guess it's up to you if a shake-up now is worth stopping or forestalling the rising waters.
There's enough of a delta in both the money paid for online advertising of a target nature and in the better results that yields for the advertisers for them to fund a very rapid turn-over.
There's enough money in it that if they must, they'll be able and willing to buy their way past any unionization issues.
This does not solve the problem, not even close.
Privacy of varying levels is and has been a functional requirement for smooth working of free society.
Economic disparities make the impact of lower levels of overall societal privacy have a disproportionate negative impact to those on the lower end of the scale.
I refuse to work for companies I don't agree with, which hurts me financially. I will never work at a FAANG company, for example, or most of the other heavy weights that are funny l functionally similar.
For things without a clearly superior alternative, I have a list of business opportunities. For example, smart devices are becoming popular, and they're horrendous for privacy. That means there's a market for devices that don't spy on you, and the open source options after inconvenient enough that a packaged deal is attractive, even if it could be DIY. For example, I think there's room for a Ring competitor that is E2E encrypted, provided the app is well designed and the device is unobtrusive. Privacy respecting services and devices are unlikely to take over the alternatives, but merely existing puts pressure on the major players to act better.
My plan is to deploy it and a VPN tunnel and give certain folks access to keep in touch. I’ll have instructions for self hosting and VPN key creation/sharing (Wireguard ftw)
There’s absolutely no reason to bother with cloud services. They’re nothing but big corp coopting our problem solving.
It always comes down to be gatekeeped but no one having the guts to gate keep a rich douche whose money to buy security goes away as soon as we do
Still just using email. It’s web scale, and just needs UX love.
But really even that is overkill. Self hosting is too easy and cheap for me to justify cloud services privacy and just generally being in the habit of externalizing every aspect of utilitarian life.
I’m not talking webscale loads. And it could be a hub for IOT. My data streams are not Google scale. But don’t take your eye off them sticks & options. Ooo shiny
Share my data with my doctor directly over local area WiFi, by making it adhere to a specific format. No data middle men needed.
For a culture constantly climbing up its own ass about austerity in economics, we sure enjoy selling ridiculously uneconomical means of communication.
It’s almost as if it’s a purpose built emotional response but who could believe so many people would fall for an emotional mass delusion?
> How can be reverse course and throw a wrench in the system?
We start by taking the guillotines down to Sand Hill Road.
They're not good people, but if it weren't this set of people, another would take their place. The world is rife with opportunity for people of low morals.
It is society's fault that we have not explicitly codified what will not be allowed and constructed the right laws and enforcement to ensure that violators are ruinously punished.
Telling some poor person that they have to pay $10 per month to use Google or send Facebook messages isn’t democracy. Don’t want surveillance? Don’t use the products the employ it, but some people, especially those that don’t have means, might be perfectly fine to trade privacy for a “free” service. Destroying the ad industry is elitism and tone deaf — ads are imperfect, but they have enabled people to do things that would have been impossible or unaffordable 20 years ago.
This pitchforks and guillotines talk is ridiculous. Build something better if you don’t like the way things are.
That’s as simple as saying “don’t like crime? Don’t be near criminals.”
Data’s being stolen and we’re being watched whether we like it or not. Only sometimes can we easily opt out and have those decisions respected.
The idea of using government to crush an industry is a bit totalitarian — it “the people” agree with you, they should be happy to pay you for your product. If they don’t agree, then there isn’t anything democratic about using a government to shut down an industry you don’t like — that’s not democracy, that’s fascism.
I love technology and computer science but tech is so screwed up in terms of ethics.
I wish we'd see more people coming together that care about this (like truely care, not the #Tethics of the sillicon valley) to make some open and private alternatives to all this toxicity. But it is super hard to make things change.
I'll work in that direction in my free time, but I feel so alone. HN seems the only place people care a bit about that. Around me at uni or at work, the level of ethics and care for privacy is so low, it's depressing. It's not only that "rich boss" telling its employees to exploit people's data, it's also engineers themselves being happy collabo of this because they make huge salary working for those companies.
They don't pay for the paystub data. The employers give it to them.
Although it's an invasion of privacy, to be sure, it actually does have some benefits for the employee.
In places outside San Fran, where people actually get conforming mortgages, having your data in The Work Number's database automates and cuts out the employment & income verification so that you don't have to track down records and submit manually and can potentially skip multiple must-connect phone calls between the lender and employer.
Inspiring examples that I use daily include Linux, git, and Bitwarden.
Legislation is the only effective course.
A functioning democracy legislates according to the will of the people. That means you HAVE to convince the majority first.
In a broken democracy, you still need to convince the powerful (although this might actually be easier). But you still have to convince them to apply the same standard to those without power, which is likely a hard sell.
While the author presents the graphics tablet as a glorified mouse, tablets usually offer many more features. How those features interact with various applications is important, and they have to prioritize which applications they support. The data collection that the author describes may be viewed, internally, as part of that process.
Now I am not claiming that Wacom is doing the right thing, nor am I claiming that they are doing the right thing in the wrong way. Yet it is entirely possible that they feel justified in collecting that data for product development without having ulterior motives. Their failure may simply lay in the failure to recognize that many people are sensitive to data collection due to real, potential, or perceived abuses by other parties.
Wacom is a $500M company. They don’t get the benefit of the doubt.
I'm not a graphic artist, but I hate mouse cords and hate having to recharge mice or deal with batteries.
So a series of Wacom "puck" mice on one (over the years, several) of their digitizer tablets has been my mouse substitute at my desktop. I bought the high end ones. On an average of every 3 to 4 years.
They stopped making the puck several years ago. Mine was starting to wear out, so I finally made the leap to Logitech's G703 and the Logitech G PowerPlay inductive mat. So same benefit -- the mouse is just magically always charged.
If I hadn't already switched, I would have anyway after the Wacom selling data thing...
Hackernews is NOT the people. HN represents a TINY TINY fraction of users.
I don't know anything about water treatment or nuclear power, but I still expect the people working in those industries to be held to extremely high standards of competence, virtue and accountability.
We should have the same standards. We don't, so instead we need to demand regulations for these monsters.
Or that they got a prescription filled. For Valtrex.
What would be helpful -- but that I am adamantly against -- would be tons of data drops, in communities across the nation, of local church leaders and local community leaders.
Many of them are not stupid. On average, half of them are above average. They're just uninformed and busy with their own lives.
Here’s some: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/27/americans-c...
91% of Americans feel that they have lost control of their personal data and privacy. The logical conclusion is that at least that many understand what they have gotten themselves into. That would indicate that a majority of people are exercising informed consent, despite the vast majority of Americans feeling that way, they continue to use the gamut of products and services.
The data collected has massive potential to improve medical research. Being able to validate database wide experiments on hundreds of millions of people at once is pretty incredible. There's likely to be a decade of insights to be found in this rapidly filling digital ocean of information.
In several years the clamour to get off the known web will empower a lot of security apps (not "privacy" apps, that are the opposite of their name) that are growing behind the scenes.
So no, fuck that.
The societal costs of surveillance capitalism are only just starting to appear, and it's going to get so much worse before it gets better.
And it's not all bad, but there's no preserving the little bit of good without canning the tons of bad.
Considering what should and shouldn't be done is much less popular than finding ways to do it.
It's a whole attitude. They're aware of their limited lifespan and intend to either buy their way into more and better lifespan (if possible), but in any event become actually powerful and rich.
At least on a certain scale, they're not wrong. It does work.
This is not to say, however, that they're not slugs deserving of a good salting.
> ...building a toxic monstrosity this industry is becoming just to make somebody with a limited lifespan feel powerful and rich.
That's what you get when you combine shareholder-focused capitalism, the attitude that everything's OK as long as it's legal, and the attitude that we should avoid making things illegal through regulation (so as not to stifle innovation such as this).
IMHO, all of those ideas should be rejected or greatly curtailed because of the poisonous tree that's grown from them (which bears delicious poison fruit).
The discussions around these issues always follow the same pattern that reminds me of a dialogue I recently saw posted somewhere, where an Amish person and a non-Amish person talked about technology and the amish person asked the other one, "do you think having the television on is good for you and your family?" and the other person responded "no, but we don't want to get rid of it because it may be useful", and the amish guy responded with "that's the difference between us, if something is bad for our family we throw it out."
The discussions around tech are the exact same. We all agree the modern internet is screwed, large companies put ads into everything, we're getting screwed over, non-profit domain spaces are being sold, everyone's unhappy, and we do .... nothing. Because of 'innovation' or some other conjured up fantasy term.
The only reason "we" do nothing, is that "we" have no agency. Other reasons are just rationalization to cope with our powerlessness: we pretend ideological debates among the people decide the faith of the country. The only vote "we" have is voting with our wallet, which only works in a truly free market.
Certain kinds of capitalism, yes. There's not just one kind, and the kind we have now isn't the best kind. Perhaps we should try to discover a better one?
> What does privacy look like in non-capitalist places ... like ... China ...?
China is very capitalist now, if you weren't aware.
In any case, the main problem in those countries (at least with regards to privacy) was authoritarianism, not non-capitalism.
The public is simply ignorant about surveillance technology issues. Not that long ago we used to tolerate sawdust in our bread, and that's food, something humans should be pretty knowledgeable about. People would revolt if this happened now, whether they live under a capitalist or communist system. A free market might accelerate the transition, but education about the issue is still the underlying factor of change.