firefox, trackers and ghostery

pete smout psmouty at
Wed Jul 17 09:41:46 UTC 2013

On 17/07/13 08:24, Sajan Parikh wrote:
> Yay!  Finally somebody with a thoughtful rebuttal.
> Edit: When I say 'you', I don't mean anyone personally, just in general.
> I'm not being hostile, but like this discussion, so don't read too much
> into any false tones due to poor choice of words at 2AM.
> Everyone has a right to be mad about all of this.  Just direct it toward
> the ones doing it secretly.  Don't direct at the sites you buy stuff
> from, consume free content from, or interact with willingly.  When you
> enter into any transaction with another entity (monetary or not), you
> give that other entity a right to take a remember information about
> you.  What you look like, color of your eyes, height, etc.  You can't
> then get mad when that entity recognizes you on your second visit and
> puts dots together about your habits while you're on their site.
> Be mad the the party you're NOT engaged with that's collecting the
> information.  US Defense Department.  That's it.
> A tracking cookie is nothing to put a tinfoil hat on for.
> On 07/16/2013 02:11 AM, Patrick Asselman wrote:
>> It's not unreasonable to ask your users these things, but it is very
>> unreasonable to simply go ahead and investigate all you can about them
>> without their consent. Compare it to sending a private investigator
>> after someone who just visited your grocery store.
> I think you're mixing two things here.  The private investigator should
> be thought of as the US Defense Department, as in the one who is doing
> this secretly and snooping for the purposes of snooping.  I fully
> advocate being angry at that.
> However, what people have reacted to is things like tracking cookies,
> which 99% do not have any nefarious intent and are not in any way
> secret.  The simple facts about the HTTP protocol sort of require you to
> at least give up your IP address to make the connection, the page you
> want to visit, and some details about your system so that the web
> developers can work on optimizing the web site for you.  This is what
> the media have focused on and started to scare people with.
> Even then, I don't think anyone should have any reasonable expectation
> of your visit to a web page being private.
> If you walk into a movie theater, at least one person is going to see
> you.  You don't get to control who that person then tells about your
> presence at the movie theater.  The minute people start to think of the
> internet as a 'place', everyone will start to understand a bit more.
>> You could also set up a little inquiry on some (free) inquiry site and
>> ask your customers kindly to participate in this inquiry so that you
>> will be able to help them better in the future.
> Sorry, but I don't think a form asking users to list every article
> they've read on is reasonable.  Or whatever equivalent that is
> for other sites.  What items you've browsed on a shopping site for
> example.  You don't think Walmart review in store footage at test stores
> to study people's browsing patterns, and change item placement and store
> arrangements accordingly?  Same thing.
>> It's not new and it started out as not being unreasonable, but it has
>> grown way out of hand, to the extent that if the big guys go and
>> puzzle all the bits of gathered information together they can create a
>> file on you that contains way more than you want them to know. There
>> is a story on the 'net about a family who got targeted with very
>> specific advertisements for pregnant people, based on their online
>> behaviour. They got upset about it and thought it was a mistake. It
>> then turned out the woman *was* pregnant, but the marketing people
>> knew about it sooner than the family. Is that where we want to go? I
>> don't think so.
> The dramatic point in that is anecdotal.  The overall point doesn't
> really hit me either.  Free content is paid for by ads.  You can't want
> to continue enjoying free content, and then complain the ads are for
> "junk I don't even need."
> In what way, specifically, has it gotten unresonable?  That they now
> know you check prices on NewEgg AND Amazon?  Or that you browse at
> Overstock, but then really buy at  I mean seriously, what is it
> that everyone is complaining about?  On a site like Amazon, that
> probably gets millions of pageviews a day, do you really think that a
> single Amazon employee is specifically stalking his ex-girlfriends
> shopping habits?  Well...maybe, but do you think that an Amazon employee
> is sitting there literally stalking YOUR shopping habits?  No!  That
> amount of data is all just aggregated by layers of software and algos.
>> Which is exactly what people are doing by using these plugins :)
>> True, you use a free service and agree to the terms and conditions of
>> that service. But you do want to know exactly what you are getting
>> into, and you want to have a choice. After PRISM people are just not
>> sure anymore how all that information is used. They thought it was
>> used in a trustworthy way, it turned out to go way beyond their
>> expectations. It's not strange that people are now weary of all online
>> information storage.
> Ah, I do agree with you here.  However, my point is that the anger
> should not be directed at those who we've trusted are data with.  I
> don't see them having broken anyone's trust.  The anger should be
> directed toward the secret FISA courts and those that operate PRISM and
> the like.  Once again, those are the ones that are secretly doing all
> this.  Everyone else's data collection is not secret.
>> Yes you do, if you want. Some religions prescribe women to wear a
>> niqab. These woman can walk into buildings just fine.
> My analogy of a mask might've coincedentally been too literal.  Let me
> put it this way.  You don't get to walk into a grocery store with an
> invisibility cloak.
>> It is the first one to leak that they are doing it, but there may be
>> more. The user just doesn't know.
>> New and bigger data centers are being opened all the time, but there
>> does not seem to be a good check as to what is stored for how long and
>> whether it is within legal limits.
>> Having the footage is fine, but it would be nice if the footage was
>> also destroyed after the legal storage time has expired. Or that a
>> court order is needed to look into the footage. Society needs to have
>> assurance that these things are happening according to the law, and
>> that there is not some secret agreement made with a secret 'judge' in
>> a back room that it is okay from now till the end of time to look into
>> all information if there is some suspicion (there always is *some*
>> suspicion), and that the people storing the footage are not allowed to
>> talk to anyone about the fact that these things are happening.
> I agree a court order should be required for a THIRD party (US Defense
> Department) to look at the footage.  However, if you walk onto my
> property and I log your IP address, browser version, screen resolution,
> and whatever else, that's my perogative and I can store that as long as
> I want.  The gas station owner has no obligation to destroy security
> footage.  He just does because he doesn't want/need to buy 10 hard
> drives a month.
> On the internet, we like to store data as long as possible because
> trends over the course of years and soon, decades, matters.
>> I'm very glad that mr. Snowden gave up his lazy life to show how wrong
>> things are already. Now we must have this discussion on how far all
>> this information gathering, storing, and analysing is allowed to go.
>> That is too easy. Basically you are saying that companies are allowed
>> to make any demands that they seem fit in their contract with the
>> users. I beg to differ. I just want to buy a newspaper and read the
>> news, not get a private eye chasing me around for a week after buying
>> the paper. The government should make sure that I can just buy the
>> paper. Unfortunately they seem to have decided to join the companies
>> into stalking their citizens. That is why people are now taking all
>> the actions they can by themselves.
> Really? "private eye chasing me around for a week", is that really how
> you would characterize what is actually happening?  That's the over
> hyping that I'm referring to.
> Also, if you want to do that, wear a hoodie and go buy one from the
> paper stand on the street corner.  Don't use the internet where you need
> to go through about 30 different parties to buy that paper. (ISP, IP
> transit providers, datacenter hosting the site, the site itself, the
> payment processor, etc.).
>> Maybe they are overhyped, but you can't blame them, in my opinion.
>> Their trust has been broken in a pretty bad way.
> No, you can't blame them.  I'm not.  I just wish they didn't see people
> like me who use Google Analytics and other tracking software companies
> as the bad guys.  We have no interest in sharing our hard earned data
> with other organizations.  We keep it private to ourselves (and the
> company we use to retrive it obviously) so that we can make a better
> product for our customers.  Why would we want our competiters to have
> access to that?

I do not view you as a 'bad guy' for trying to improve the service you 
offer your 'customers', but I am starting to view Google as a 'bad guy'. 
For example for google to store searches to improve their search 
algorithms is fine but why does it have to be linked to my IP?

> No, the only people you should be angry about are complete third
> parties.  So far, only the US Defense Department.  They are the only
> ones collecting data that have no reason or right to.  If you're buying
> a news article from me, you have a right and I have a right. You can't
> get made at either of those parties.  Go nuts on the Defense Department
> though.

You are quite correct and the citizens of the entire world should be 
concerned by the huge breach of trust by the governments in the 
countries that hold themselves up a shining light of the 'free world'.

> Yet the media want to make us the bad guys with headlines like...."How
> much data are you giving away by shopping online?" - The answer to that
> is..."The same as if you walked into a store!" In fact, less, because
> you're not interacting with any particular person who could memorize
> your face and personally identify you.

True except when you substitute face for IP then with the help of some 
software your 'entire online' footprint becomes available to them. 
Simply put you bought some bananas at store A, some milk and ice cream 
at store B, Store A can then put 2 + 2 together and assume the you are 
making banana smoothies when in-fact all you wanted was some bananas to 
take for a snack at work tomorrow, some milk for a cup of coffee, and 
ice cream for pudding! My point being that incorrect conclusions can be 
made from the most innocent of activities!

> Thanks,
> Sajan Parikh

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