There was a time when it seemed like everything was free on the internet.
Free email. Free hosting. Free software. Free cloud storage. Free photo storage. Every social media site was free as was every search engine and every news site. The software that powered the servers running the web was free. If anywhere was the land of the free, it was the internet. Some free things weren’t even free enough. There were degrees of free-ness: “free” as in beer, or “free” as in speech. And we gobbled it all up. …
Apple’s glitzy developer conference this June, WWDC, gave us our annual peek at the latest and greatest software the company is bringing to our devices, from iOS 15 to major updates to macOS, iPadOS, and more.
This year, as with other years, privacy improvements across Apple’s operating systems were front-and-center. Building on its anti-tracking pop-up boxes introduced last year that targeted cross-app tracking, iOS will now allow users to block email senders from tracking whether or not people are opening their emails.
Open tracking is one of the few ways people who send email are able to understand how well…
Earlier this year, Apple announced sweeping changes to their privacy policies, which sent shockwaves through the online advertising world. Beginning with iOS 14.5, which was released in April, Apple implemented Ad Tracking Transparency (ATT), a feature that requires apps that wish to track users for advertising purposes to ask for their permission first. Google has taken baby steps in the same direction with their Android OS and took a big step by moving to phase out tracking cookies. Privacy laws like California’s CCPA are discouraging the gathering of tracking data, too.
Jules Polonetsky remembers the moment that shattered his naivete about the internet.
“I was the consumer affairs commissioner for New York City 20 years ago when some company I’d never heard of came in with a big billboard,” he recalls. “It said, ‘Welcome to Silicon Alley,’ sponsored by DoubleClick.” I’d read in the headlines that DoubleClick was in trouble for using something called cookies. And something to do with “appending your identity” to your web-browsing history.
Facebook recently launched an ad campaign to defend personalized advertising against Apple’s new privacy measures. The campaign, called “Good Ideas Deserve to Be Found,” touts targeted ads as a boon for small businesses. Here’s one of the ads, which I found amusing, if perhaps not exactly in the way that Facebook intended.
The ad push comes ahead of a change in Apple’s policies that could dramatically affect Facebook and other app makers’ ability to track iOS users for advertising purposes. Starting this spring, iPhone users will see a pop-up when they open an app that tracks them, giving them the…
In a new piece for The New York Times, writers Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson detail—and not for the first time—how our smartphones feed a so-called “surveillance economy” that annihilates personal privacy in real and unexpected ways.
Warzel and Thompson obtained a file from an unnamed source containing location data tied to “thousands of Trump supporters, rioters, and passers-by in Washington, D.C.” on the date of the insurrection at the Capitol. …
Online, ads are everywhere.
They bombard you when you try to read the news. They pop up between your friends’ Facebook updates. They’re disguised to look like regular results on Google. And one, maybe two play before every video you watch on YouTube — with more peppered throughout.
From the perspective of an internet user who is desperately trying to ignore, avoid, or block this constant deluge of ads — ads that have to get more and more intrusive in order to force us to pay attention to them — the power of the online advertising industry might appear unstoppable…
In July, I performed an experiment to see how easy it was to run ads on Google that made false claims about Joe Biden.
First, in the Google Ads system, I bought the keyword “should I vote for Biden?” Then I told Google I wanted to run this ad:
By Aaron Sankin and Surya Mattu
Kara Zajac said SPART*A, a small nonprofit serving transgender military service members and veterans, helped her begin her transition while in the Navy. To give back, she volunteered to build the group’s website in her spare time after leaving the military — and kept her eye on a key value: privacy.
“I don’t track users,” Zajac said. “Not everyone in the military is wanting to be known for being trans. They might not be out yet. So any time we can protect privacy in that way, we try to do it.”
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