Re: Where Even the Children Are Being Tracked

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Doc Searls.  DLH]

From: Doc Searls <doc@searls.com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Where Even the Children Are Being Tracked
Date: December 27, 2019 at 1:43:30 PM EST
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

That’s an excellent piece in a terrific series (https://www.nytimes.com/series/new-york-times-privacy-project) that has been running in the New York Times since April of this year. And, like nearly all pieces of this type, it also fails to mention that the Times itself is also in the tracking business. According to Privacy Badger these “potential” (though in many cases actual) trackers were aimed at my browser while I read that piece on the Times’ site:

c.amazon-adsystem.com
tags.bkrtx.com
tags.bluekai.com
pnytimes.chartbeat.net
static.chartbeat.com
js.datadome.co
5290727.fls.doubleclick.net
securepubads.g.doubleclick.net
www.google-analytics.com
www.googletagmanager.com
platform.iteratehq.com
contextual.media.net
cdn.optimizely.com
a3013110282.cdn.optimizely.com
cdn3.optimizely.com
logx.optimizely.com
sb.scorecardresearch.com

Using Privacy Badger’s controls, I permitted some of those, while blocking the rest. Among those I blocked was Google Analytics, which not only tracks people, but we found (at Linux Journal) can yield highly misleading results, especially when a large percentage of readers (such as I) block tracking outright (by browser feature, ad blocker, or tools such as Privacy Badger)—and the bot, fraud and malware traffic is massive and largely un-measurable. 

Involvement in surveillance capitalism is a third rail none of the major pubs are yet willing to grab and shake—and that includes The New York Times. I’ve talked with reporters at the Times and other major pubs about the irony of those pubs’ own participation in the system. All of them thank me for pressuring them, and beg patience while they cover the topic of online tracking done elsewhere (especially by Google and Facebook, which, while important, misdirecting red herrings in respect to the pubs’ own involvement in the pracctice).

Credit where due: one third-rail grab by the Times was this one by Farhad Manjoo: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/23/opinion/data-internet-privacy-tracking.html. It ran last August, and—far as I can see—changed nothing. Same goes for all the other pubs I’ve been following. They tell me they share my concern, and that they will try to change. But they don’t.

A few minutes ago I finally decided to subscribe to the Washington Post, just to see if tracking went down after I signed up. Instead it increased. I’ll be writing about that soon. Meanwhile this earlier piece provides some background: https://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/2019/06/28/dear/ .

Another irony here is that these pubs don’t need to track us. I’ve explained why that’s the case, often and at length, in posts, essays, articles and talks listed here: http://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/the-adblock-war/ .

I invite others to raise their voices, or—better yet—join the work going on in these places:

https://cyber.harvard.edu/projectvrm

http://customercommons.org/

https://www.me2balliance.org/

https://standards.ieee.org/project/7012.html

I’m work with all of them, and look forward to seeing some of you there.

Doc

Where Even the Children Are Being Tracked
We followed every move of people in one city. Then we went to tell them.
By Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson
Dec 21 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/21/opinion/pasadena-smartphone-spying.html

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