The more I reflect on the current practices of the online advertising industry, the more I think that ad-blocking is a moral imperative.
The security research that went into improving the spec for the Battery Status API. This is why it’s so important that the web holds itself to high standard.
Even most unlikely mechanisms bring unexpected consequences from privacy point of views. That’s why it is necessary to analyze new features, standards, designs, architectures - and products with a privacy angle. This careful process will yield results, decrease the number of issues, abuses and unwelcome surprizes.
The World Wide Web, with all of its pages, blogs and so on- has allowed human expression in ways that would have been uneconomic and out of reach before. The most dramatic effect has been this ability for almost anyone to express himself or herself whenever they want to- and potentially be heard by many others.
Vint Cerf there, taking part in this wide-ranging discussion with, among others, Kevin Kelly and Bob Metcalfe.
The introduction leans a bit too heavily on Nicholas Carr for my liking, but it ends up in a good place.
The internet connects us cognitively and becomes a membrane through which our minds can interact, manifesting a whole new iteration of our species, who have begun to exist in a connected symbiotic relationship with technology.
The internet is the first technology we have created, that makes us more human.
Dan Gillmor and Kevin Marks report on the Decentralized Web Summit:
Kahle framed the gathering with three key questions: How can we build a reliable decentralized web? How can we make it more private? And how do we keep it fun and evolving?
Third-party scripts can provide powerful functionality, but they also bring risks to privacy, security, performance, and page behavior.
One more reason to make the switch to HTTPS.
Monika’s end-of-year piece is rather excellent:
The map exposes the network of fibre optic internet cables that lie deep below the sea giving an unfettered glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them.
A great piece of near-future sci-fi from James.
I enforce from orbit, making sure all the mainframes that used to track and store every detail of our lives are turned off, and stay off. And as the sun comes up over Gloucestershire this morning, there they are, resplendent in the mist-piercing light of RITTER’s multispectral sensors: terabytes of storage laid out around the scalped doughnut of the former GCHQ building. Enough quantum storage to hold decades of the world’s pillow talk. Drums of redundant ethernet cable stacked stories-high. Everything dismantled, disconnected, unshielded. Everything damp with morning dew.
This is advertising we’re talking about, the industry founded on the hallucination that people secretly appreciate being tracked, analysed and told what to buy. Advertisers, and the technology companies that cater to them, are responding to ad blocking the only way they know how: doubling down on their fantasy that viewers will suddenly love advertising just as soon as ads are so all-knowing that they anticipate one’s every need and desire.
My sister-in-law is causing quite a stir. Go Helen!
I refuse to believe that this cramped, stifling, stalkerish vision of the commercial Internet is the best we can do.
Imagine a location service that sold itself on the fact that your personal information was securely contained in its environs, used by you and you alone. You could have devices on your person that used their sensors to know things about you – when you last ate, what your dining preferences are, what your blood-sugar is, and so on, but these devices would have no truck with the cloud, and they would not deliver that information to anyone else for analysis.
I really like this impassioned love letter to the web. This resonates:
The web is a worthy monument for society. It cannot be taken away by apps in the app store or link bait on Facebook, but it can be lost if we don’t continue to steward this creation of ours. The web is a garden that needs constant tending to thrive. And in the true fashion of the world wide web, this is no task for one person or entity. It will require vigilance and work from us all.
I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable “free” content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns — and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.
Brewster Kahle’s short presentation at NetGain.
Stuart has written some wise words about making privacy the differentiator that can take on Facebook and Google.
He also talks about Aral’s ind.ie project; all the things they’re doing right, and all things they could do better:
The ind.ie project is to open source as Brewdog are to CAMRA.
Tom Scott’s energetic dConstruct talk.
Cole Peters calls upon designers and developers to realise the power they have to shape the modern world and act accordingly.
It is in those of us who work in tech and on the web that digital privacy may find its greatest chance for survival. As labourers in one of the most pivotal industries of our times, we possess the knowledge and skills required to create tools and ecosystems that defend our privacy and liberties.
I don’t disagree, but I think it’s also important to recognise how much power is in the hands of non-designers and non-developers: journalists, politicians, voters …everyone has a choice to make.
When I’ve been banging on at conferences about digital preservation, personal publishing and the indie web, I’ve been at pains to point out that there are huge opportunities here for startups looking to build valet services to help people publish on their own domain.
Ben and Erin at Known are doing just that, with some backing from KQED, PRX and the Knight Foundation instead of the usual short-sighted Silicon Valley venture capitalism.
One of the jobs of a startup is to look at where the world is going, extrapolating from current trends and domain knowledge, and meet a future need with a product at exactly the right time. We think the time is right for an independent web that is owned by content creators and readers alike.
The transcript of Maciej’s talk from Beyond Tellerrand on how the web has become more and more centralised:
The degree of centralization is remarkable. Consider that Google now makes hardware, operating systems, and a browser.
It’s not just possible, but fairly common for someone to visit a Google website from a Google device, using Google DNS servers and a Google browser on the way.
This is a level of of end-to-end control that would have caused us to riot in the streets if Microsoft had attempted it in 1999. But times have changed.
Fast Company features Aral’s tantalising Indie Phone project that he’s been working on at Clearleft Towers.
Good to see Oskar the dog getting the recognition he deserves.
On the top floor of a commercial building in the old maritime city of Brighton, England, Balkan has been quietly hacking away at Indie Phone for the last several months with the rest of his team—Victor Johansson, an industrial designer, Laura Kalbag, a professional web designer (and Balkan’s partner), and her Husky, Oskar.
A superb piece of hypertext from The Guardian.
You might want to untick the checkbox at the bottom of this screen:
Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.
Ben is rightly worried by the blasé attitude in the tech world to the PRISM revelations. Perhaps that attitude stems from a culture of “log everything by default”?
I think there’s a deep rooted trait within this industry that sedates the outrage. That is the normality, complicity, and dependency on ‘surveillance’ in the software we make.
A grab-bag of public updates on Facebook.
Cataloguing patterns (best practices, really) for privacy-concious site owners.
An in-depth look at where Google is going wrong.
A one-stop-shop with links to the authentication settings of various online services. Take the time to do a little Spring cleaning.
A translation into plain English of the recent changes in the law regarding cookies in the UK. In short, keep calm and carry on.
A superbly written piece of near-future legal-dystopian speculative fiction. Damn, that Paul Ford can write!
A dataviz demo of creepiness: displaying the movements of Malte Spitz by correlating her phone activity and web usage.
Metallic ink-printed undershirts and underwear. For Americans who wish to assert their rights without saying a word.
This article needs a great big "citation needed" slapped on it. Yes, people need to think about what they post on the web, but no, that stuff will not stay around "forever." If anything, the web suffers from the opposite problem: memory loss.
A great Fisking by Ben of (very silly, IMHO) morally panicked Guardian article on Foursquare.
Before we point the finger and laugh at the Facebook users leaving confused comments on Read Write Web, we should look to our own experiences with Google Buzz.
Erin explains exactly how badly Google have messed up privacy concerns with Buzz.
A frightening tale of just how badly Google messed up with the lack of privacy controls on Buzz.
Wait till I come! Â» Blog Archive Â» Detecting and displaying the information of a logged-in twitter user
Clever or creepy? You decide.
Chris says that URLs are people too: "You’ve got my URL, now, tell me, what else do you really need?"
Scroogled is a short story by Cory Doctorow that's especially timely.
Facebook's Misrepresentation of Beacon's Threat to Privacy: Tracking users who opt out or are not logged in. - CA Security Advisor Research Blog - CA
An excellent piece of research that shows how Facebook affiliates' cross-site scripting (Beacon) sends information back to the mothership regardless of whether the user has opted out.
Tara talks about the damaging effect on women who believe that to protect themselves, they cannot be truly open online.
Bug 330884 - When different users on one system choose to save or not save passwords for sites, any other user can see sites they not only saved passwords for but can also see what other users have been saving/never saving passwords for.
The guy who submitted this Mozilla bug writes "This privacy flaw has caused my fiancé and I to break-up after having dated for 5 years."