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Online Tracking Firms To Launch Opt-Out Program

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Privacy 102

storagedude writes "Threatened by the prospect of tougher US online privacy legislation, a handful of data collection companies have banded together to create a voluntary system for consumers to see what information companies have and to opt out of cookies or edit the data collected. The Better Advertising Project's Open Data Partnership is a long way from a viable solution — scores of tracking and big-name online companies have yet to sign on to the effort — but it is nonetheless the first attempt to put all this online tracking data in one place. Coupled with Microsoft's announcement this week that it plans to add a do-not-track mechanism to IE9, it appears that the FTC's call for a do-not-track system may be gaining some traction. The Open Data Partnership will be particularly interesting, as consumers will be getting a good look at the data collected about them. Better Advertising already lets consumers opt out of some behavioral ad targeting, and about 5% of those who click through to learn more actually opt out (PDF, slide 5). It will be interesting to see if the opt-out rate changes after consumers see what data is actually collected." To be clear, they aren't saying they'll stop collecting the data. They'll just make it available to users and let people opt out of getting ads based on the information, or simply remove anything they don't want shared.

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Opt out rates are low eh? (3, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526678)

Could that be becuase more people (as in, not us nerds here) don't even know that they are being tracked like crazy or what it can mean to them in the long term when all those little tiny bits of data start getting put together and someone ends up with a perfect picture of that person?

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526710)

you mean stuff like 'this guy likes ladyboys and beaniebabys" so he must be gay ends up with a divorce and fired for being a faggot

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526758)

I don't know about Beanie Babies, but bring on the ladyboys!

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526792)

we already knew that from his name (Fluffeh) and occupation (fluffer)

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526874)

It's ridiculous to draw such conclusion, and no marketing researcher will simply assume this from two things you like.

Though you can have a lot of fun with the reaction from store clerks if you go and buy condoms and doggy treats. Try it! It really is hilarious.

What you should NOT try is the combination of vaseline, lollypops and condoms. People tend to be hysteric.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527092)

Careful. Your comment is probably convincing someone to try doing that just to freak out the mundanes.

Until the government gets their heads out of their rears and makes it so that you can't track or collect info unless people opt IN, however, this kind of crap is just going to keep going on.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

ppz003 (797487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527118)

It's ridiculous to draw such conclusion, and no marketing researcher will simply assume this from two things you like.

Though you can have a lot of fun with the reaction from store clerks if you go and buy condoms and doggy treats. Try it! It really is hilarious.

What you should NOT try is the combination of vaseline, lollypops and condoms. People tend to be hysteric.

The obligatory []

Be sure to read the alt-text.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528284)

I still think my combination of doggy treats and condoms win the freak-the-cashier-out game over the coat hanger and preggy test.

Or rather, it's the male version thereof.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526722)

And those of us who do know about tracking have long since learned that any attempts to opt out actually result in more tracking/advertising/spam/whatever else you opt out.

Unless the perpetrators are actually trackable and reliably fined, there is no chance an opt-out system can work. The only case so far that _mostly_ (not completely) works is the Do-Not-Call phone list in the US. Here in Europe we have strict laws about protecting personal data, but unless a company loudly announces it has data of this kind these laws are unenforceable.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (3, Interesting)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526828)

but unless a company loudly announces it has data of this kind these laws are unenforceable.

However, employees of such companies might want to consider leaking this information to the public, so that the company can be taken to court for failing to follow the laws.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526844)

Been there, done that.... the good thing is that I use throwaway e-amail addresses provided by my webmail host, so I know what site is responsible for my 200 spam/day emails. I don't think the law will accomplish anything, but at least I can delete the temp email and have the mails bounce when I'm done with them. The wild, wild west got nothing on spam email, it's so lawless that only like the top 5 in the world has the chance of getting token caught.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526848)

If the opt-out is just a browser setting then there would be no personally identifiable information like there is with the telephone Do Not Call list.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527098)

You can do it the easy way, or the hard way, your choice.

Applies to all sorts of things that have "opt out" options that involve giving up our rights.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528278)

I think it's worse than that. Setting up a do-not-track system while browsers still make the information available is like setting up a do-not-hack system instead of patching security holes. The perpetrators will simply move shop to a workable jurisdiction and continue tracking.

These problems should be fixed in the browser: []

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526846)

Add the people who don't even think that it will be heeded and is hence a waste of time to go through the hassle to opt-out, and the people who think it's a trap to collect even more data, and I'm kinda surprised that 5% actually remain to opt-out.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (4, Interesting)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526966)

Put me down as one of the people who fall into both categories. I know that my opt-out won't be heeded. (I may be wrong, but I'm certain)

Actual laws against spam don't seem to have diminished the number of spam messages I get. I've actually taken the time to try and opt out of some the less annoying, slightly more legitimate emails and I've noticed something interesting that seems to be common to all of the opt-out pages I have seen.

A) If/when you sign up for something, you are implicitly agreeing to having your contact details and other information shared/sold to "business partners, service providers and other affiliates" but when you opt-out later, it applies only to the company directly. You'll still get spammed by those other firms.

B) They NEVER say that they will delete your data, just that they won't use it themselves. On it's own, your data is almost worthless, but in the aggregate with thousands of other people with similar profiles it can be worth quite a sum. So opting out still leaves the problem of companies unknown to me, collecting data about me against my will and then selling that data to god-knows-who anywhere in the world. (It's been alleged that intelligence agencies routinely obtain these data stores to cross reference against their existing files.) By the time you get around to opting out, your data could easily have been sold and re-sold dozens of times.

C)The fact that I am willing to actually read the Terms and chose to opt-out is itself another detail to add and cross reference with any other data that they have; or think they have, linked to me. A list composed purely of people who opt-out of (for example) the email alerts that they automatically got subscribed to when they joined a tech forum is probably pretty worthless for a fake Viagra spammer, but potentially worthwhile for a vendor of security and privacy protecting software. (oh the irony!)

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527790)

(It's been alleged that intelligence agencies routinely obtain these data stores to cross reference against their existing files.) By the time you get around to opting out, your data could easily have been sold and re-sold dozens of times.

It's a fact:

Watergate era reforms restricted government use of these private information empires. But after 9/11 the Bush administration lifted the restraints and pushed agencies aggressively to use private databases... You can't have the big brainiac with the one database on all Americans run by the government. But here's the trick; what you can do if you're the FBI, is you can ping the private sector database... Lexis Nexis [ChoicePoint, Acxiom, etc]... And as long as you access it one at a time, which is the way it works anyways, the Privacy Act doesn't apply. Because it's not a government database. It's the private sector database. The law doesn't apply to the private sector database.

Peter Swire
White House Privacy Counsel, 1999-'01
Link: []

Though it appears that Slashdot would prefer not to hear the Truth (I guess they'd rather have me logged in for easier tracking, though I stopped doing that when I noticed that Slasdot was doing business with Facebook):

Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.
It's been 2 hours, 53 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528312)

You can just block Facebook scripts and you'll be immune to their tracking.

But yeah it's bad and strange (we need a new, stronger word for that...Bange. Yes, Slashdot working with Facebook is Bange.) for Slashdot to do business with Facebook. It's like the FSF partnering with Sony.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34530194)

I set the cookie handling to block all, and then allow the few I need for thinsg like email. The list is really small for allowed domains.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34530920)

I recommend blocking scripts over cookies (although blocking both would be ideal). That way they can't track you by IP or system information, which they don't need to set a cookie for.

This one is even worse, really (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528508)

Except this one is actually worse. The gist of it is: oh, we'll continue to track you all right, but we'll give you more ads you're not interested in. I.e., it's not even a fucking opt out of being tracked or the ads, it's accepting to still be tracked but forfeit the meager rewards of occasionally getting an interesting ad out of it. As opposed to, dunno, your point B, it doesn't even say "ok, ok, we'll stop collecting your data, but keep the old one." It flat out tells you "hell, yeah, we'll keep collecting your data and using it for everything except targeting ads. And oh, it's actually up to the individual companies if they actually want to obey even that. It's not like anything you click on this site is actually binding to anyone."

And from that they have the chutzpah to conclude that really, people don't want to opt out of being tracked.

Really, the scenario that comes to mind is sending a bunch of girls a letter that says, "Hi! Me and these 5 other guys are the ones who've been stalking you all these years and sending you creepy postcards and the occasional box of chocolates for Valentine's Day. But now we're nice guys and let you opt out! Just sign here and we'll... ah, who am I kidding, we'll still stalk you obsessively. But we promise to pretend we don't know you like chocolates and roses, so we might send you a dead cat or a baby skull instead, and maybe a bouquet of nightshade. And actually we can't even promise that. Really, each of us can decide for himself." And from that concluding that actually girls want to be stalked, because only one lass with Down Syndrome actually signed the opt out.

Even by the standards of the crap that "industry self-regulation" generally means, this takes the cake. I guess when you have a bunch of folks whose job is to lie to the public _and_ to the corporate masters paying for it, man, it's such a surprise that their own survey says that people love it. I mean what are the odds?

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526944)

It's probably because "opt out" is newspeak for "consent to be groped by."
Or so I'm told.

Re:Opt out rates are low eh? (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527246)

Opt out rates are low eh?

I think it's just so special of them to consider launching this opt-out program. They're willing to let us opt out of having our personal behavior monitored. They must really care about us.

I guess it's just too much to ask to have them create an opt-in program and make "out" the default and allow us to choose whether or not we want someone looking over our shoulder.

I know that the pioneers of the Internet believed that their invention would create an new era of communication and personal empowerment. I wonder if any of them suspected it would become the most effective monitoring tool ever invented and remove the last scraps of privacy from our lives. Even more, I wonder if they realized that people would so readily sign up for "social networks" by which people would happily display their most personal information and behavior. Really it's quite brilliant: use people's own desire for celebrity and self-justification to make giving up your privacy the norm, the default, even the in thing to do. Then we end up expected to be grateful that they're offering us an opt-out.

One thing I like about this whole Wikileaks saga is that the tables got turned. And guess what, the people in power don't like it one bit.

No idea what the "opt out" said, though (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528296)

I dunno, it's easy to jump to conclusions, but given where the data comes from, it's a bit like trusting the telemarketers that only 5% of people are bothered by repeated calls at dinner time.

And it's especially the combination that makes me wonder. I'd assume that if people just didn't give a fuck, they wouldn't have clicked to learn more in the first place. I mean, I don't go click on penis enlargement pill adds just to change my mind later. If I'm not interested, I don't click at all.

That only 5% of those who went to that page actually went through, makes me suspect that it just sounded pointless, or confusing, or asked for more personal data to join that list than the relatively anonymous just tracking the browser rather than the person that is currently happening.

I mean, think I gave you a form like this to opt out of some crap:

First Name:
Last Name:
Phone Number:
Social Security Number:
EMail Address:

[ ] I have read the Privacy Statement and understand that I have none, and any data I voluntarily enter can be used for marketing purposes, sold to the highest bidder and shared with every web site we advertise on

Would you go ahead with that, or just say "fuck it, I'll just clear my cookies and browser history more often."?

Ah, right, I finally RTFA (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528418)

Actually, after reading their powerpoint slide, the mentioned stats on page 5 actually say:

Overall click through rate: 0.0035%

Which is actually what you'd expect for something where you have to click an icon _inside_ an ad to even get to their opt-out site. Especially an icon that says "Advertising Choices" instead of something clearer like, say, "Opt Out Of Ads." Not that that would make it much better, since we all learned anyway to not click on spammers' opt out links and that they typically lead to something worse than ignoring them.

Additionally, again: it's an icon _inside_ an ad. If I ever saw their stupid icon, I would assume it to be yet another lame FakeUI trick to make me click on the ad. The only kind of person who clicks on buttons on ads they're not interested to, is probably also the kind of person who believes they'll win an iPad by shooting 5 ducks in an ad or opens attachments called PornPix.xls.exe in emails. I.e., the terminally retarded.

The place I'd look for some genuine choices to turn off ads would be, say, in my user preferences on a site, not inside an ad.

And, geeze, if it's options call it "options", will ya? Calling it "Advertising Choices" is as far from suggesting "opt out" as humanly possible.

* in 20 people who click on icon opt out

* 1 in 5 people who make it to opt-out page opt out

That's 3 in 4 users who click on the icon but never make it to the Opt Out page. Wtf? Why doesn't it lead directly to an opt-out page in the first place?

In fact, if you do look at their page 3, clicking on the icon leads you to a marketing bullshit page that starts with justifying why they showed you the ad. At which point, yeah, 3/4 of the people giving up sounds about right.

It's starting to sound like they took a lesson from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy:

"`...You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anyone or anything.'
`But the plans were on display...'
`On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.'
`That's the display department.'
`With a torch.'
`Ah, well the lights had probably gone.'
`So had the stairs.'
`But look you found the notice didn't you?'
`Yes,' said Arthur, `yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".'"

Anyway, if you make it to the opt out page, basically at that point they tell you it doesn't opt you out of anything. It's on the same page 3. It tells you they'll still track you and collect your data and share it around, but you'll get worse ads from _some_ companies. WTF kind of opt out is that?

Plus, it tells you pretty clear that it's a pointless site, and, regardless of what checkboxes you click, it's still up to the individual companies whether they'll still track you or not. And that you actually have to click on each company's link to see what policy they actually have. I.e., basically the opt-out page is itself just a bullshit ad page with links to companies that you can click on, nothing more. That 1 in 5 still took their chances and clicked the checkboxes, is... interesting.

At any rate, it seems to me like their conclusion is weird that "Transparency doesn't foster opt-out". They didn't measure that. They just showed that if you make a misleading icon that nobody sane will ever click on, put it in the worst place for encouraging users to click, and of the few that click you manage to lose 3/4 before they make it to the opt out page, and then the opt-out page is phrased to flat out tell people that you'll still track them anyway... yeah, you'll have very few opt outs. That's not "transparency". It's actually quite the opposites. It's like putting the customer complaints department at the South Pole and only accessible in person, and then concluding that you have the most satisfied customers ever because nobody ever has complaints.

Opt Out of Deez Nutz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526686)

first post, bitchezzz.

4-chan 4-life

Legislation will be needed. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526698)

While the Open Data Partnership is a start, there are scores of online tracking and major internet companies that have yet to sign on to the effort.

That's where legislation comes in - you can't get 100% compliance without it. All you need is just one company to refuse to join and this opt-out program will fall apart.

Anyway, opt-out?!? Everything is becoming fucking opt-out. And if you don't know about something, how the fuck do you "opt-out:?

Fucking marketing people and their techie sell-out scumbags.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (2)

machine321 (458769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526802)

Fucking marketing people and their techie sell-out scumbags.

That describes almost everyone in IT.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528322)

Yeah most of us empower marketing to some extent, if you do anything web-related it's pretty much unavoidable :-( Makes me feel like shit sometimes...

I met a guy who did VoIP admin at a telemarketing firm, I guess you need a strong black hat mentality (and pay to match) to be able to live with yourself at a job like that...

Re:Legislation will be needed. (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526804)

In Canada we call it the privacy act. Works pretty well, unless you're dealing with a company outside of Canada. In which case as a Canadian you simply ignore everything they scream at you.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526842)

That's where legislation comes in - you can't get 100% compliance without it.

Exactly. Some industries may be able to avoid legislation by the nature of how the product is bought and sold. Movies and video games, for instance, with their voluntary ratings system, already pervade the market because people expect to see those ratings before they buy the product.

But with advertising, people aren't the consumers - they're the product. It doesn't matter if people expect to see limits on behavior tracking, because they're not the ones whose needs have to be met. In fact, the actual consumers of advertising - the companies trying to sell something - have interests opposed to those of the people who don't want their behavior to be tracked. It ends up being in advertising firms' best interests to break ranks with the "industry standard" and offer a product of higher value to their customers.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526858)

But with advertising, people aren't the consumers - they're the product.

I propose that anyone caught spewing that tired old line be shot in the face on sight. It's not clever and it's not original.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (1)

RichardDeVries (961583) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526942)

Truth often isn't clever or original.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527084)

I propose that anyone caught spewing that tired old line be shot in the face on sight.

That's okay. I never leave my house, so nobody will ever get the chance.

Re:Legislation will be needed. (1)

sgunhouse (1050564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527732)

I opt-out by blocking. If they can't see me, what data do they get? Okay, yeah, I'm a geek and can do that, whereas the other 95% of people (or more) wouldn't know how to, though they might stumble upon one of the good block lists floating around and remove themselves that way. If not ... well, as long as they can track 80% of the people, they probably don't care about us.

Having previously worked for a newspaper, I know about some of the holes in "Do Not Call". "Do not track"? Since you can't prove they are (or aren't) tracking you except by targeted content, the law would be meaningless.

Why opt out? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526720)

Why should users have to opt out? It would make more sense to make tracking opt in. If tracking is useful for users surely they'd want to opt in.

Re:Why opt out? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526794)

Over the years I've had enough contact with the online marketing business to last me a lifetime. *puke*

It's partially rooted in their delusion that they actually think they're doing the average user a service by trying to sell him all kinds of crap (read: "the customer has needs and online advertisement facilitates the contact to vendors to satisfy this need"[/goodspeak]).

That's why they want the opt-in as default, to reach as many people as possible and guarantee them a larger revenue through possible sales.

Re:Why opt out? (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526840)

their delusion that they actually think they're doing the average user a service by trying to sell him all kinds of crap

It's hard to convince someone that what they're doing is wrong, when their job depends on it.

Re:Why opt out? (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34529238)

Ya kinda like a Nazi right?

Re:Why opt out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34529482)

That job shouldn't exist. We don't have shit eating as a job, and nobody seems to be complaining.

Re:Why opt out? (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34532880)

If enough people were willing to pay to see shit eating, it would be a job faster than you can say 2coders1cup.

Re:Why opt out? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528342)

I'd say only about half of the marketing people I've met have this Randian mindset where they think they're actually helping people by exploiting them. The other half have more of a black hat/predatory mindset where they know they're hurting others to help themselves, and just don't give a fuck. One guy went on a rant about how "Generation Y has the attention span of a gnat" and how hard it is to get them to sit still and watch his ads. I wanted to scream out "BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR STUPID FUCKING SHIT! STOP ADVERTISING AT US!!!"

Re:Why opt out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34529420)

So why can't they figure out all I need are 12 VDC 35mm 4-6 CFL 43ma fans, 512 Mb PC 133 No ECC No Reg, a box of 2 GB Trancend Industrial CF's with CF to IDE adapters, a pair of PANDU21's (for the camera), and small cluster of TB drives in Icy Docks? Damn, was that my christmas list that just went by?

I don't want an iPad! I want an IPV4 address.

I don't want to watch G-Force ( Now On Blu-ray ), I have an Nvida GeForce card (I better get an extra fan)

But seriously now, if you ever worked for a (or built) telemarketer as IT, you'd know why everything is as bad as it is. Telemarketers are some of the weirdest, freaky, and poor decision making people. In fact, I'd argue, if you know the admin, you have a better chance of opt-out, do you really think the admin's home phone # is in that digital dialer? His relatives, friends #'s? Maybe the enemies #'s ah yes, you know your getting to be successful when you have both friends and enemies. But anyway good luck finding the admin, You might try leaving some meth in the bathroom to lure em out,

No wonder everyone is buying plastic crap on credit, it's blind greed leading the uninformed.

how do you view other people's data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526752)

How do you view other people's data? I mean how do they authenticate that you are you? goldmine.

No silly - Opt in! (5, Insightful)

defaria (741527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526772)

No ad system will ever be acceptable to me unless it's "Opt In"!

Look, I'm internet savvy and resourceful. I can think for myself. If and when I want some product I will seek it out. None of your "throw your shit in my face" will make me want to buy your product. In fact it alienates me - IOW it has the opposite effect. Get this through your thick skull - people like me who actively use things like AdBlock are not your customers and never will be. We will seek out and buy things using the wonderful internet as a research tool if and when we - not you - determine we need your product. You'd be best to spend your ad dollars on making a stellar product!

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526900)

Likewise. ABP, NoScript, Ghostery, and crap still gets through.

Meanwhile, I'll go and read speciality genre-sites (Tech, Cars, Boats, etc), product reviews that are little more than rewrites of press-releases, and buy dead-tree editions of PC and Tech mags. It's not as if I hate ads. I just HATE ADS.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526932)

Hope you don't mind if I add to this. Maybe we can write a "how to sell to people who're not idiots and hence have the money to buy your stuff 'cause they didn't waste it on crap" guide.

1. See defaria's posting. Yelling at me is most likely not impressing me. It annoys me. To the point where I do not WANT to hear from you EVER AGAIN. Even if I should ever need a product that you could provide, your name has been tarnished by your own actions, it's now something I connect with "annoying" rather than "pleasant" or "helpful". And nobody wants to buy something that reeks of "annoying".

2. I will look for something that I need. So make sure you can be found. Ponder what people might look for when they're looking for your product and make sure that you can be found by that term in the important search engines. And that means NOT ONLY Google, and maybe Bing.

3. Make sure that you are ONLY found by terms that match your product. If I find you no matter whether I look for a new monitor, a new stereo, a new sofa or a new refrigerator, but you're making only dildos, you're annoying me again. The only thing you will accomplish is that I will automatically change my search pattern from "$thing_that_I_want" to "$thing_that_I_want -$your_company".

4. Make sure I find the specs of your product EASILY. Without wading through pages of flash animated marketing drivel. When I want to get something, I usually have an idea what I want in the product. And if I don't, telling me with a lot of adjectives just how great your product is ain't going to impress me. Tell me WHY it is good. I believe you that you think it's good, don't worry about that. Give me the specs.

5. And don't pad the specs with crap to make them look like I get more than I actually get. We all know you love those tables with "this feature" in one column and "YES!" in the one next to it, but when you tout a remote control as a YES! feature for a TV set, all it tells me is that you don't have any real defining features because you have to present something as a feature that every crappy TV set out there has today. It is impressive to have a long feature list, yes. It is NOT impressive if that list consists to more than 50% of non-features like remote control, stereo sound speakers or an antenna jack.

6. Let's assume you have me hooked and I want to buy it: LET ME! I cannot count the times that I actually decided to buy something only to find out that I can't without first jumping through more hoops than the item is worth. If you require me to tell you everything about me including my shoe size and my mom's maiden name, you're wasting my time. I don't care about your statistics. You get what you need to deliver the item to me and what you need to get money from me. Nothing more. If you want more, I take my business elsewhere.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

coreduo1 (1190865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527000)

I fully agree !

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527074)

I'd so mod this up if I had points.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527470)

1. It's called re-branding. Pummel you with ads for stuff you don't want, hoping the next time you do want something of that nature, you remember the brand name. You might not even know why you remember it. Just in case you do have that negative association, there is no law against selling the same product under multiple brand names, so you're sill probably going to buy it.

2. Just try remembering every single product thrown at you from an ad. Chances are, you'll remember any given product without knowing why when the time comes to buy it.

3. See point 2.

4. If you saw the specs you wouldn't buy it. The point here is human psychology, not consumer education. Even if advertisers can't get you, they can still get just about everyone else this way. How do you think Norton and McAfee are at the top?

5. This works best with consumers who don't actually understand the specs, which is 99% of them.

6. Your information is actually worth more than your single purchase. If you "voluntarily" tie a name to all this information, it becomes that much more valuable.

In summary, all of this wouldn't be going on if it didn't work. Advertisers make a shit-load of money doing this, so they will continue to engage in these practices. Why do you think they're so afraid of legislation on data collecting? Their model of business might be over, and if the RIAA/MPAA has taught us anything, we know companies do not like to change business models. I do agree with you, by the way, but thought I should post another perspective.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528308)

1. I usually not only remember the name of an nuisance but also what it looks like. Rebranding doesn't really work here. But hey, even if it does, I don't mind. At least they'll notice that I buy the item they didn't try to cram down my throat, maybe it's gonna teach them. Not likely, I know, but still.

2. When I find a product that I do NOT want due to 1 or 3, what good does it serve to let me find it? I will still not buy it. It annoys me so I do not buy it. Even if the next best option is vastly inferior (is it? Or is it only inferior because I've been spammed with messages trying to convince me that one of the core features of the product I do not want is a "must have" feature despite being fairly useless?).

3. erh... see 2? Whatever. Fact remains, if you go on my nerves and keep popping up at the wrong searches, I will exclude you from my searches. Think Expert Exchange (if you ever tried to find a solution for something, you know what I mean).

4. If I wouldn't buy if I saw the specs, why should I buy when I don't see them? Are there really people who buy after the "ohhh, shiny!" phase of seeing something, without knowing just WHAT that thing can do? Maybe when it comes to accessories where the main function is to "look cool" (and yes, I am aware that this includes cellphones and even laptops for some people), but even when it comes to things they need to get, you know, "stuff done"?

5. Really? A remote control as a feature is something anyone on this planet would take serious? For real?

6. Yes, but that info is not forthcoming. So they may choose to either do without my data or without my data AND without a sale. Maybe my data is worth more than a sale, but a sale is still worth more than NOTHING at all.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528406)

I keep saying Slashdot should have Best Post of the Year awards. This should be a candidate.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528946)

7. Allow me to calculate the shipping and handling costs WITHOUT going through a registration process and entering my credit card number first. You can do this, trust me.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34530806)


I don't watch TV much so I use an OTA antenna. Since I live in an apartment I only need a 26" screen. So that means the only features I really care about are size, that it's a LCD or LED, HDMI support(love games like ratchet and clank so the PS3 is optimal, Blue-Ray if a friend brings one or DVD, plus no charge for online play make it so it's TV and PS3), and it has a built in digital converter.

The way I get news is the radio since I'm listening to it while making dinner, and that means a basic radio(NOAA alert is helpful.) Trying to sell me car with fancy stereo system with MP3 doesn't work. I only care about an AM/FM radio. CD players are the only basic option, but that's good if I have a friend along that can't stand only having news radio on.

My computer can get advanced, and I will read heavily into specs because I do game on it too.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

Zerohm (1942216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34534258)

I agree completely, but sadly the phrase "A fool and his money are easily parted" exists for a reason. There are a lot of suckers/professional shoppers/people with too much money out there. The American consumer mentality is a beast and everyone is fighting for a piece of the pie.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

he-sk (103163) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527292)

Full ACK.

Thing is, although I hate ads in general I might actually be willing to opt into a few ad channels. For example, if I had disposable income to spend I might opt into a channel for photography products. Of course, if cash is tight I would opt out again because seeing all these products I can't buy tends to be demoralizing.

I subscribe to a few shopping-related blogs in my feed reader. These are basically ad channels. But the difference to broadcast or web advertisement is that I've chosen the channels because I think they are relevant to me and I can quit the subscription whenever I feel like it.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527438)

Look, I'm internet savvy and resourceful. I can think for myself. If and when I want some product I will seek it out. None of your "throw your shit in my face" will make me want to buy your product. In fact it alienates me - IOW it has the opposite effect. Get this through your thick skull - people like me who actively use things like AdBlock are not your customers and never will be. We will seek out and buy things using the wonderful internet as a research tool if and when we - not you - determine we need your product. You'd be best to spend your ad dollars on making a stellar product!

Actually, their ad dollars are spent wisely. Merchandisers know that a significant fraction of the public won't listen to them, and that some of us have run eight flavors of ad-block for the past decade. They also know that leaves a significant fraction that will listen to them, so that's who they're targeting. But opt-in just rubs it in the face of those who are susceptible that there are non-gullible people out there, and nobody wants to think of themselves as gullible; so a large number of the susceptible people won't choose to opt-in. Thus, with opt-in ad eyeballs drop, and so do sales.

The thing with advertising is it's damn effective, statistically speaking. Certain kinds of ads resonate with certain kinds of people. I never understood why there was a single person in America who bought anything Billy Mays was pitching, that anyone would watch late-night infomercials, or would read spam, or why the home shopping cable channels even exist. Yet Mays died a very wealthy man, infomercials are on every night, spam is as profitable as ever, and home shopping has been a cable mainstay for at least 30 years. You and I may never understand what drives the kinds of people that watch this nonsense, but advertisers do, and they will continue to try anything and everything to keep hawking their wares.

Re:No silly - Opt in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527868)

I dumped my TV and went fully torrent because of this.

Spyware companies want to put people in database (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526780)

So basically companies that use spyware are asking their victims if they want to be put into a database of people who don't want to be put into a database of people. I wonder if this is going to work as good as the anti-telemarketing and anti-spam legislation.

For myself, I'll just continue to not have frequent-flier points. People call me stupid for a reason!

Great niche for free software (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526790)

Here is a great niche for free software - module/plugin to throw off tracking. I'm guesing it'd be bit like virus signature chasing, but maybe bit easier.

I would cook up something along this line on my spare time, but I haven't touched webapps/ecommerce for a few years and not familiar with the current tracking techniques...

Re:Great niche for free software (3, Informative)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526860)

As in Ghostery [] ? Or do you mean a data-spoofer, not just a blocker?

(Two trackers on this page: Google Analytics, Doubleclick. Status: Blocked. (But then I'm logged in, so...))

( [Laughs] Google sent me to the French Mozilla add-on page. "So, you do not like our tracking, eh?")

Re:Great niche for free software (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34529628)

Thanks for the link. Have you used it for a while? How well do they fare?

AC (3, Interesting)

machine321 (458769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526812)

I find it amusing that most of the comments so far are as AC...

Re:AC (2)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526986)

i only see one AC out of 21 posts so far,where are you reading that shows all AC??

Re:AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527892)

We don't want to ruin our mods here.

Opt-Out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526836)


Here's an idea for a webpage (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526940)

Charge 5 bucks and auto opt-out from every single tracker there is.

If you do it, I'd like my cut. Thanks.

Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (2)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526968)

Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is just plain unacceptable. Theses company will NOT do anything differently unless forced by our government. And the only way to get our government to do what WE want is to send letters,Lot's and Lot's of letters. When i do a search with google i expect there to be ads for the search term i am looking for, anything more by google is just plain unacceptable. When we go groceries shopping we get then store cards KNOWing we are tracked,but we get a very real price break to be tracked. Online advertiser/marketers provide nothing for the tracking they do to us.

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527004)

"Online advertiser/marketers provide nothing for the tracking they do to us." So how much do you pay for your slashdot subscription? Ask yourself how much do you pay to see any single website. I bet it comes out pretty low, mostly because most sites don't offer a per view or even subscription service. You could say that you go to free websites knowing they have tracking/advertising as an expectation. Your very real price is not even having to pay for the site.

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

coreduo1 (1190865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527042)

Ummm ... You got it all wrong! I don't mind to see ads on 'selected' web sites that I visit (if the ads are the lifeline of said web site, I can disable ABP, noscript et all) BUT ... I DO not want them to follow me (tracking) to totally unrelated site, just because they (?) think that they will provide me 'something' by doing so (user experience?, umm... no). WRONG !

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527304)

I don't block the ads on slashdot. I *do* block the tracking cookies for google analytics, etc. using TACO [] , and have opted out of the ad networks that offer an opt-out.

But yes, legislation to enforce this would be better, because it's one thing to have cookies that track you on a single site (useful for providing persistent site customization, shopping carts, etc), and quite another to share this across web sites, especially with "behavioral tracking".

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527454)

I block ads and trackers everywhere: the mailbox, the do-not-call list, opt-out mailings, heavy use of the DVR 30-second-skip button while watching pre-recorded TV, and of course on the web. But since I read slashdot so regularly I pay them the subscription fee as recompense. I would rather pay them for the valuable service than waste my time and everyone's bandwidth downloading ads that will only serve to annoy me.

To all the sites that think that they're not capturing my valuable opinions on what I find interesting to click on, or what gadgets I hover my mouse pointer over, I'm willing to accept your judgments based on what you've learned from other users via trackers. To sites that want ad revenue from me? Put up a tip jar, or sell site-specific merchandise. That way I can sponsor you directly.

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528324)

One of the reasons I don't block the ads is because they keep me up to date on the latest trends in advertising - if it helps, think of it as "keep your friends close, your enemies closer".

Every once in a while something captures my interest, so we all get what we aim for out of it. Slashdot gets advertising revenue, sponsors get someone who, if they do click through, actually want the info (as opposed to those stupid interstitial ads), and I learn something new.

-- barbie

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

he-sk (103163) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527306)

Slashdot has a checkbox that turns off ads. I'm unsure what the text beneath it means -- either it's sarcasm or the offer is dependent on karma.

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527704)

So when you put it that way, it's also partly a subset of webmasters being greedy and de facto evil that are enabling this out of control advertiser tracking behavior. A webmaster using only one ad provider seems reasonable, if the site is to remain free there needs to be a reasonable revenue source. However, a webmaster using over 10 different tracking mechanisms including multiple ad providers and/or any web beacons is just greed, search engines should regard such sites as harmful and post big bold warnings like WARNING - AD TRACKING INFESTED SITE and users should stop giving any visits to that site until they clean up their act.

At the same time, the ad provider needs to keep their user data within their own domain, no transferring of data to another company, no transferring of user data to another country. No using ads, web bugs, scripts, or widgets from any other entity, not even a secondary domain from a primary company (e.g., something like Alexa would NOT be allowed to use Amazon site content, cookies, scripts, etc. and all content would absolutely have to be only from Alexa) would be an ideal restriction.

Re:Anything less then opt-in to be tracked is (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34529292)

"Your very real price is not even having to pay for the site" Getting served an ad is very different then being spied apon/tracked So who is tracking me? Slashdot or the marketers? When I'm on slashdot i don't mind the non flashing ads,but once i leave slashdot its none of there stinking business were i go. Advertisers/marketers track us once we leave slashdot and they provide 0 content.

Opt out via cookie most likely... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527022)

I can just picture it...


Please come to our URL, enter your name, address, and and email so we can insert a cookie indicate you do not wish to be tracked to our partners.

Caution: If cookie is deleted, tracking may resume until you opt out again


This measure is utterly hopeless unless it's double opt-in and comes with a measure whereby employees can be rewarded a years salary (at company expense) for reporting violations. Even the do not call lists in the US are an utter failure.

I get lawyers calling me half a dozen times a week trying to collect on the old phone number of the prior user--from FIVE YEARS ago. I have two dozen company's claiming they have a business relationship who refuse to stop calling. People hang up when you say the words TCPA--but will put you on the do not call list. The FTC themself refuses to enforce or take complaints regarding TCPA violations where people leave messages improperly, or call cellular numbers. And the one manager I ever got to reply said I should put my number on the do not call list. This just in--calling a cell number to make sales is already illegal save under very specific circumstances. The laws on the book are already not enforced.

Re:Opt out via cookie most likely... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527332)

The current technique doesn't ask for any personal info - it just sticks a cookie on your machine saying you've opted out. When you request a web page, you send that cookie to the server - the advertising network's javascript on the host web site detects the cookie, and doesn't set any ad tracking cookies. Use of cookies for logging in at the host site are unaffected.

Some ad networks already voluntarily do this because it helps increase their overall success response rate - they don't bother trying to sell an opted-out viewer anything, and as a result, don't count this as a "failed result".

For example, here's how you can opt out of the DoubleClick cookie for AdSense partner sites, DoubleClick ad serving, and certain Google services that use the DoubleClick cookie []

You just click a button - no need to enter all sorts of data.

-- Barbie

Re:Opt out via cookie most likely... (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527458)

For example, here's how you can opt out of the DoubleClick cookie for AdSense partner sites, DoubleClick ad serving, and certain Google services that use the DoubleClick cookie

Here's [] another way. One that doesn't rely on me trusting someone else to do something.

Re:Opt out via cookie most likely... (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527542)

Having doubleclick blacklisted in noscript will probably defeat this absurd procedure.

Of course it probably also protects my privacy better than this procedure would anyhow.

Re:Opt out via cookie most likely... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527468)

Even the do not call lists in the US are an utter failure.

Not for the marketers and spammers they're not. The law served to pacify public outcry for regulation with teeth...

It is truly naive to take a "privacy policy" seriously. Opt-in, opt-out, it doesn't matter. "Your call may be recorded for 'training purposes'".. Our economic system demands it. It will always be this way until we drown all the bankers and their lawyers (metaphorically, of course!) and try a different system of trading goods and services where nobody can acquire undue influence over another. Something that prohibits hoarding and speculation.

Block Referrer headers, cookies from third parties (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527090)

My computers are behind a proxy that blocks certain websites and referrer headers. I use Firefox and block third party cookies.

When there was a story a month or so ago about tracking, it pointed to websites where one could look up what information they held on you. They had no information about me.

sorry to disappoint you.. (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527312)

...but they had my address, my age, and the property value of my house. As well as my spouse and inlaws as "possible connections"

I block everything, don't share things online, am not on facebook, and when i participate somewhere I use fake online ids like "formfeed" or "lonelygirl" instead of my real name Juanita Maria Gonzales.

So WTF?? Do they now scan the city's property registry or what?

Re:sorry to disappoint you.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527550)

I'm not disappointed by the fact that I have managed to protect my privacy while you have not.

Re:Block Referrer headers, cookies from third part (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527850)

You used the right tense: They had no information about you. Now they have the information about you that you care (or someone else does) about what information they have about you. :-)
If you clicked the Slashdot link to go there, and don't block referrer, they also know that you came from Slashdot.

the ONLY way to opt out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527318)

The only way to opt out is to not give them the data in the first place. They cannot collect what your computer does not send. And since your computer is under your control(*) you get to chose what information it gives. The tools for this already exist.

(*) Unless you run iOS or Android.

I don't see ads on PC's, or ANDROID... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34528210)

"(*) Unless you run iOS or Android." -

I use a custom HOSTS file to block out ad banners - THUS, I "opted-out" from online advertisers, long ago & hosts files were my way of doing so...

Why? Ok:




Adbanners have been shown to harbor maliciously scripted code, as in the example above, & that's just a SINGLE INSTANCE. There have been others also... so, for online security's sake, I block them out.

I also do so because ISP's are in talks to bill you for how much you use your connection, bandwidth-wise, here:


FCC Approving Pay-As-You-Go Internet Plans: []


So, by blocking out adbanner content, that means I don't consume as much bandwidth by downloading & processing adbanner code either (even IF it's "safe" from malware content within). That's for BOTH PHONES &/or PC's mind you, especially in light of that 2nd URL above happening... because, after all, bottom-line here is, that it's YOUR MONEY FOLKS, after all!

HOSTS files do ALL OF THAT, for me, even to the point of possibly saving money (if the FCC plans go thru on "pay as you use" internet billing)... & also, far more!

(Below in my P.S. section extolls all the virtues of using HOSTS files, even over AdBlock &/or DNS servers alone).

HOWEVER, most everyone knows you can obtain a reliable HOSTS file from MVPS.ORG here -> [] and you overwrite your root/etc model in LINUX, or your %WinDir%\system32\drivers\etc model in Windows for it to begin to work... but!

How do you do load a custom HOSTS file for all of that on ANDROID?

You use developer tools is how!

ADB is your pal, and utilizing it, you:


A.) Use the mount command, & mount the system mount point on ANDROID as both READ & WRITE, first.

B.) Next, use the PULL command on the HOSTS file you want from wherever it is you keep it (hook your ANDROID to your PC for this)

C.) Lastly, use the PUSH command on the HOSTS file you want on ANDROID to send it to the system mount point on the ANDROID phone device, overwriting it as you would on LINUX (in the etc folder)


Since ANDROID is a form of LINUX, it will work the same, blocking out adbanners, maliciously scripted content on sites/servers that attempt to hijack your PC with malware, & you go faster online too!

You gain speed, security, & more "anonymity" by blocking out adbanners &/or malicious content using a HOSTS file, in the following ways:


1.) You gain speed of access to your favorite websites by "hardcoding in" your favorite websites as it avoids the roundtrip IPAddress - to - Host/Domain name resolution requests to DNS servers, which is slower than local HOSTS file access (since HDD's are faster than calling out to a remote server for that information),

2.) You gain privacy by avoiding DNS request tracking logs (more privacy/"anonymity" potential here)

3.) You avoids DNS poisoned or redirected DNS servers

4.) You avoid downed/crashed DNS servers

5.) You avoid known bad servers/sites that host malware laden content (by blocking out these sites using (slowest & largest), (next slowest & largest, + most compatible), or 0 (smallest & fastest of the lot, but won't work on Windows Server 2008, VISTA, or Windows 7 anymore))...

6.) You avoid being charged on some ISP/BSP's "pay as you use" policy (see 2nd URL above), because you are using less bandwidth (& going faster doing so no less) by NOT hauling in adbanner content.


More advantages/gains of HOSTS files usage are listed below also... enjoy the read! HOSTS files work for a number of things in your favor...


P.S.=> 15++ ADVANTAGES OF HOSTS FILES OVER DNS SERVERS &/or ADBLOCK ALONE for added layered security:

1.) Adblock blocks ads in only 1 browser family (Disclaimer: Opera now has an AdBlock addon (now that Opera has addons above widgets), but I am not certain the same people make it as they do for FF or Chrome etc.).

2.) HOSTS files are useable for all these purposes because they are present on all Operating Systems that have a BSD based IP stack (even ANDROID) and do adblocking for ANY webbrowser, email program, etc. (any webbound program).

3.) Adblock doesn't protect email programs external to FF, Hosts files do. THIS IS GOOD VS. SPAM MAIL or MAILS THAT BEAR MALICIOUS SCRIPT, or, THAT POINT TO MALICIOUS SCRIPT VIA URLS etc.

4.) Adblock won't get you to your favorite sites if a DNS server goes down or is DNS-poisoned, hosts will (this leads to points 4-7 next below).

5.) Adblock doesn't allow you to hardcode in your favorite websites into it so you don't make DNS server calls and so you can avoid tracking by DNS request logs, hosts do (DNS servers are also being abused by the Chinese lately and by the Kaminsky flaw -> [] for years now). Hosts protect against those problems via hardcodes of your fav sites (you should verify against the TLD that does nothing but cache IPAddress-to-domainname/hostname resolutions via PINGS &/or WHOIS though, regularly, so you have the correct IP & it's current)).

6.) HOSTS files protect you vs. DNS-poisoning &/or the Kaminsky flaw in DNS servers, and allow you to get to sites reliably vs. things like the Chinese are doing to DNS -> []

7.) AdBlock doesn't let you block out known bad sites or servers that are known to be maliciously scripted, hosts can and many reputable lists for this exist:


REGULARLY UPDATED HOSTS FILES SITES (reputable/reliable sources): [] [] [] [] [] []
Spybot "Search & Destroy" IMMUNIZE feature (fortifies HOSTS files with KNOWN bad servers blocked)

And yes: Even SLASHDOT &/or The Register help!

(Via articles on security (when the source articles they use are "detailed" that is, & list the servers/sites involved in attempting to bushwhacker others online that is... not ALL do!)).

2 examples thereof in the past I have used, & noted it there, are/were: [] []

8.) HOSTS files will allow you to get to sites you like, via hardcoding your favs into a HOSTS file, FAR faster than DNS servers can by FAR (by saving the roundtrip inquiry time to a DNS server & back to you).

9.) AdBlock & DNS servers are programs, and subject to bugs programs can get. Hosts files are merely a filter and not a program, thus not subject to bugs of the nature just discussed.

10.) Hosts files don't eat up CPU cycles like AdBlock does while it parses a webpages' content, nor as much as a DNS server does while it runs.

11.) HOSTS files are EASILY user controlled, obtained (for reliable ones -> [] ) & edited too, via texteditors like Windows notepad.exe or Linux nano (etc.)

12.) You don't have the sourcecode to Adblock. With hosts you don't even need source to control it (edit, update, delete, insert of new entries via a text editor).

13.) Hosts files are easily secured via using MAC/ACL &/or Read-Only attributes applied.

14.) Custom HOSTS files also speed you up, unlike anonymous proxy servers systems variations (like TOR, or other "highly anonymous" proxy server list servers typically do, in the severe speed hit they often have a cost in).

15.) AND, LASTLY? SINCE MALWARE GENERALLY HAS TO OPERATE ON WHAT YOU YOURSELF CAN DO (running as limited class/least privlege user, hopefully, OR even as ADMIN/ROOT/SUPERUSER)? HOSTS "LOCK IN" malware too, vs. communicating "back to mama" for orders (provided they have name servers + C&C botnet servers listed in them, blocked off in your HOSTS that is) - you might think they use a hardcoded IP, which IS possible, but generally they do not & RECYCLE domain/host names they own (such as has been seen with the RBN (Russian Business Network) lately though it was considered "dead", other malwares are using its domains/hostnames now, & this? This stops that cold, too - Bonus!)...

* MINOR "CAVEATS/CATCH-22's" - things to be aware of for "layered security" + HOSTS file performance - easily overcome, or not a problem at all:

A.) HOSTS files don't function under PROXY SERVERS - Which is *the "WHY"* of why I state in my "P.S." section below to use both AdBlock type browser addon methods (or even built-in block lists browsers have such as Opera's URLFILTER.INI file, & FireFox has such as list as does IE also) in combination with HOSTS, for the best in "layered security" (alongside .pac files + custom cascading style sheets that can filter off various tags such as scripts or ads etc.) - but proxies, especially "HIGHLY ANONYMOUS" types, generally slow you down to a CRAWL online (& personally, I cannot see using proxies "for the good" typically - as they allow "truly anonymous posting" & have bugs (such as TOR has been shown to have & be "bypassable/traceable" via its "onion routing" methods)).

B.) HOSTS files do NOT protect you vs. javascript (this only holds true IF you don't already have a bad site blocked out in your HOSTS file though, & the list of sites where you can obtain such lists to add to your HOSTS are above (& updated daily in many of them)).

C.) HOSTS files (relatively "largish ones") require you to turn off Windows' native "DNS local client cache service" (which has a problem in that it's designed with a non-redimensionable/resizeable list, array, or queue (DNS data loads into a C/C++ structure actually/afaik, which IS a form of array)) - covers that in detail and how to easily do this in Windows (this is NOT a problem in Linux, & it's 1 thing I will give Linux over Windows, hands-down). Relatively "smallish" HOSTS files don't have this problem ( offers 2 types for this).

D.) HOSTS files, once read/loaded, once GET CACHED, for speed of access/re-access (@ system startup in older MS OS' like 2000, or, upon a users' 1st request that's "Webbound" via say, a webbrowser) gets read into either the DNS local caching client service (noted above), OR, if that's turned off? Into your local diskcache (like ANY file is), so it reads F A S T upon re-reads/subsequent reads (until it's changed in %WinDir%\system32\drivers\etc on Windows, which marks it "Dirty" & then it gets re-read + reloaded into the local diskcache again). This may cause a SMALL lag upon reload though, depending on the size of your HOSTS file.

Still - It's a GOOD idea to layer in the usage of BOTH browser addons for security like adblock, &/or NoScript (especially this one, as it covers what HOSTS files can't in javascript which is the main deliverer of MOST attacks online & SECUNIA.COM can verify this for anyone really by looking @ the past few years of attacks nowadays), for the concept of "layered security"...

Some more notes on DNS servers & their problems, very recent + ongoing ones:

BIND vs. what the Chinese are doing to DNS lately? See here: []



(Yes, even "security pros" are helpless vs. DNS problems in code bugs OR redirect DNS poisoning issues, & they can only try to "set the DNS record straight" & then, they still have to wait for corrected DNS info. to propogate across all subordinate DNS servers too - lagtime in which folks DO get "abused" in mind you!)


DNS vs. the "Kaminsky DNS flaw", here (and even MORE problems in DNS than just that): []

(Seems others are saying that some NEW "Bind9 flaw" is worse than the Kaminsky flaw ALONE, up there, mind you... probably corrected (hopefully), but it shows yet again, DNS hassles (DNS redirect/DNS poisoning) being exploited!)


Moxie Marlinspike's found others (0 hack) as well...

Nope... "layered security" truly IS the "way to go" - hacker/cracker types know it, & they do NOT want the rest of us knowing it too!...

(So until DNSSEC takes "widespread adoption"? HOSTS are your answer vs. such types of attack, because the 1st thing your system refers to, by default, IS your HOSTS file (over say, DNS server usage). There are decent DNS servers though, such as OpenDNS, ScrubIT, or even GOOGLE DNS, & because I cannot "cache the entire internet" in a HOSTS file? I opt to use those, because I have to (& OpenDNS has been noted to "fix immediately", per the Kaminsky flaw, in fact... just as a sort of reference to how WELL they are maintained really!)


Then, there is also the words of respected security expert, Mr. Oliver Day, from SECUNIA.COM to "top that all off" as well:


Some "PERTINENT QUOTES/EXCERPTS" to back up my points with (for starters):


"The host file on my day-to-day laptop is now over 16,000 lines long. Accessing the Internet -- particularly browsing the Web -- is actually faster now."

Speed, and security, is the gain... others like Mr. Day note it as well!


"From what I have seen in my research, major efforts to share lists of unwanted hosts began gaining serious momentum earlier this decade. The most popular appear to have started as a means to block advertising and as a way to avoid being tracked by sites that use cookies to gather data on the user across Web properties. More recently, projects like Spybot Search and Destroy offer lists of known malicious servers to add a layer of defense against trojans and other forms of malware."

Per my points exactly, no less... & guess who was posting about HOSTS files a 14++ yrs. or more back & Mr. Day was reading & now using? Yours truly (& this is one of the later ones, from 2001 [] (but the example HOSTS file with my initials in it is FAR older, circa 1998 or so) or thereabouts, and referred to later by a pal of mine who moderates (where I posted on HOSTS for YEARS (1997 onwards)) -> [] !


"Shared host files could be beneficial for other groups as well. Human rights groups have sought after block resistant technologies for quite some time. The GoDaddy debacle with NMap creator Fyodor (corrected) showed a particularly vicious blocking mechanism using DNS registrars. Once a registrar pulls a website from its records, the world ceases to have an effective way to find it. Shared host files could provide a DNS-proof method of reaching sites, not to mention removing an additional vector of detection if anyone were trying to monitor the use of subversive sites. One of the known weaknesses of the Tor system, for example, is direct DNS requests by applications not configured to route such requests through Tor's network."

There you go: AND, it also works vs. the "KAMINSKY DNS FLAW" & DNS poisoning/redirect attacks, for redirectable weaknesses in DNS servers (non DNSSEC type, & set into recursive mode especially) and also in the TOR system as well (that lends itself to anonymous proxy usage weaknesses I noted above also)... apk

Share Cookies (1)

RabidChipmunk (19279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527548)

What makes the most sense to me is not that we opt out of cookies, but rather that we all use the same cookies.

We need a repository of tracking cookies and a plugin that sets all of our cookies to the same thing. That way there is no dependence upon the trackers to be good or ill. We just all pretend to be the same "person".


Junkbusters (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527584)

Speaking of opt-out, does anybody know what happened to Junkbusters? They use to have an open source proxy, as well as other anti-tracking tools.

Re:Junkbusters (1)

Nartie (1128613) | more than 3 years ago | (#34532586)

Junkbusters seems to be dead. Privoxy is based on Junkbusters and last I heard was alive.

What's so bad about tracking? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527898)

This is going to sound stupid - even for me, but I'm still going to pose this question.

Assume that they're not going to send you spam email - and that this advertising company is only taking care of the online ads you view. Any information which they sell will be sold only to similar no-email-spam companies.

Now I go to my favourite website, and its full of ads. The amount of ads aren't going to change whether they track you or not, just that their content will depend on the websites you've visited before. So in my case instead of an ad for a 'vampire-movie' , there would be ads for computer stuff, development communities - that sort of thing.

Is it really so bad? There seems to be an in-built aversion to being tracked - but you're still going to get ads thrown at you...

Opt out? sounds like a spam merchant (1)

dmcq (809030) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528230)

And how often have you replied to some spam saying you want to opt out? It's a recipe for having a hundred times as much spam now they know you read it. It's confirmation that you are a prime candidate for spam. So now they want you to stick your email in a register saying you don't want the stuff. Give me a break. Anyone like that I'll avoid like a plague.

Opt out simply means opting in to the opt out list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34528428)

All advertising and marketing should be opt out by default.

Then, if people want to opt in by all means let them add their names to some list somewhere.

Forcing people to add their names to a list in order not to have their names added to lists is obviously an absurd requirement.

As usual the government is on the side of big business. The more the corporations make, the more tax revenue the government can rake off and the greater will be the empire of our representatives in government - and let's face it, that's why they're there.

It should be opt-in (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528686)

Such advertisement practice should be opt-in to begin with. In telephone, e-mail and mail we only have opt-in for a reason. Why there are no laws to make such practice online opt-in?

Even more scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34530564)

Yeah, just make an account with us providing your name, address, email, and phone. We'll link that to every other thing we've previously tied to IP usage and browser metadata. We'll show you everything we have....

I'M AN ARTIST DAMNIT not a crop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34531470)

I am a performance artist and all of my life is subject to copyright, I do not grant redistribution rights to anyone for anything I may do with them.

Ghostery and Better Advertising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34531936)

Well, I've looked at the ODP and its indeed a step in the right direction. Additionally, Better Advertising Offers an awesome tool that actually allow you opt-out (via blocking) from 99% of the online tracking via their Ghostery tool.

Cunts the lot of them... (1)

dogzdik (1700552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34532518)

You can tell what cunts they are, but how low they have to duck when a gun is held their big fucking heads.......


I use Ghostery, Google Anonymiser, javascript blocker, add blocker and I think a few other things...


One of the things that is so apparent is that these CUNTS are just falling over themselves to get every fucking thing that they can on you, and out of you, and all of it is without your knowledge or consent.....


Fuck you know - there are many websites that have 20 or more tracking cookies / scripts etc. in them....


I regard most of them as nothing but cyber molesters - sort of like people who drug others and grope them when they are unconscious.


That is about as high a regard as I hold these internet shitbags. Fuck them.


Opt-In would be devastating (1)

Merk42 (1906718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34533798)

So much entitlement here from people who outright block ads. Do you have any idea how much websites are paid for via advertising? Hell /. LOVES Google, where did they get their money from again? I seriously would love to see an online world with no ads just to watch most sites be put behind a paywall or some other way of recouping the money no longer received from advertising. Then everyone here with their entitlement complex would complain about that too. Of course every little be of digital data should be free. I'm entitled to it! To hell with paying those who created it or maintain it.

Don't "opt out" when you can't really (1)

hicksw (716194) | more than 3 years ago | (#34533950)

Just lie. Get/make a Firefox add-in, an Opera widget, whatever, that generates tons of false information. Poison the well for these suckers.

BTW, if they allow someone to look at the data, what authentication do they use?
Can I change or block any random mis-identification data that is presented to me?
Can a robot walk the data and harvest even more throw-away email addresses?
Targeted spam - its no longer a contradiction in terms.

Sounds like a bad idea that makes trouble for all concerned.

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