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Ask Slashdot: Should I Expect Tracking When Subscribing To News Sites? 206

Long-time Slashdot reader robot5x writes: I'm a fan of online privacy and, where possible, don't automatically permit cookies and tend to set Ghostery to block all trackers in my browser. This rarely causes a problem -- I have lots of subscriptions to various sites which require me to login and have only rarely encountered minor issues. Recently I had a present of a Slate Plus membership. I really like their content and was keen on supporting it financially. Activating it from the email they sent required me to first register as a user. I clicked on the icon, and nothing happened. Ghostery picked up 7 trackers which I had blocked.

Assuming that one of these was the cause, I activated each in turn and reloaded. None of them made any difference, except a single tracker from JanRain. Accepting this tracker let everything work perfectly. Reading more about JanRain though -- and particularly its interaction with Adobe analytics (which it also tries to load) -- I discovered that they wanted to "create a holistic view of your business by collecting, analyzing and reporting all customer interactions. To derive the most actionable insights, you must link your customers' actions with who they are and what their interests are. Janrain bridges the gap by connecting demographic and psychographic data, collected through traditional and social login, with Adobe's behavioral data, so you understand the whole customer journey".

I do not want them to do any of this, and don't think I should have to. Interactions with Slate's 'support' were excruciating and -- while they at least didn't ask me to restart my computer -- they actually ended up saying that allowing these trackers is tied to their login process and I have to either accept or get a refund.

Robot 5x asks: Is it unacceptable to have to accept being tracked as a paying customer for new sites? "Or am I just being a big baby?"
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Ask Slashdot: Should I Expect Tracking When Subscribing To News Sites?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2016 @07:33PM (#52068417)

    If anything, subscribing should be a way to avoid tracking. Preferably, we shouldn't be tracked at all and subscribing should eliminate animated GIF banner ads and text ads. How can I be confident that the tracking scripts aren't also installing malware? Speaking of which, I also seem to remember that Slashdot serves up scripts from Janrain. Why is Slashdot participating in the tracking? Posting stories critical of tracking while serving up ads that track us is hypocrisy. I block those scripts and frequently change IPs to try to defeat that nonsense.

    • Why is Slashdot participating in the tracking?

      Glancing at Ghostery, it's blocking 7 trackers. AdBlock Plus is blocking 3 elements. Right here on Slashdot.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        So they're going to "build up a profile on you." BFD. What are they going to do with it? Either sell it to advertisers, or sell you stuff. Unless you're someone who goes "oh shiny - must have" it doesn't affect you, and if advertising affects you that much, you have bigger problems. REALLY bigger problems.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          That's a really short-sighted view. Let's say that can be linked to a name and address in the real world, perhaps through your billing information or from social media. It's entirely possible that insurance companies might use that data to assess risk and raise rates. Or perhaps that information could be used in background checks by employers. It's really short-sighted to assume that information will never be used against you in the real world.

          • Shouldn't that be illegal? It is in the EU. The more I read about this stuff on Slashdot the more I think that the US needs some strong privacy laws.

        • Maybe you should tell that to the families of the people in Bangladesh who were murdered for posting blogs that were tracked back to them.
        • Those profiles can't be used for political purposes? They can't be used for "police" purposes? In short, the "powers that be" should be able to track you under any circumstances? And, you don't believe that there are any potential injustices to worry about?

          Let us try to get a grip on reality here. Knowledge is power. Information is a tool with which to wield power. You are giving away power over yourself. And, you gain NOTHING in return.

          Which is kinda funny in a way. Females have been trying to gain

          • The only way that information gives someone power over you is if you let them. It's the same as any other blackmail scheme. The minute you say BFD when someone threatens to release information about you to coerce you into doing something, they have lost.

            Now, if they have lost, I have gained - freedom of action, independent thought, and self esteem. But the first step, like always, is to not give a damn when someone is trying to use knowledge about you against you. And I don't give a damn. Let them track me

            • "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." -Richlieu

              You need not break a law for law enforcement to get interested in you. Nor do you need to break a law for those who are politically motivated to get interested in you. Have you ever attended a rally to either support, or to defeat, a nominee? Are you not associated with any kind of activists? Not even to the "6th degree"?

              I have my secrets, and they stay secret, because I

              • As George Carlin would say, Richelieu was FULL OF SHIT [youtube.com].

                This is an idle boast that sounds good, but let's try it in practice ... oops, it doesn't work because Richelieu was FULL OF SHIT.

                Yes, people can use your secrets to blackmail you - so the best thing is to not have secrets. Don't give a damn about it because other people are the same or worse.

                I don't care if I have the attention of the police. Seriously, I would LIKE to have the attention of the police. Make it a bit easier to stop the next sexual as

              • Most people have secrets. Some of those secrets aren't really very important...

                Historically, the worst abuses have been based on things that weren't secrets until society and government changed drastically, and people started getting killed for what didn't used to be dangerous or secret. That's what I worry about; the future state of society is a known unknown! I have no idea if a fascist regime will take over in ten years and start killing people "like me." That's why I don't want too much information about me to be in databases. Especially where the short-term benefit of the informa

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2016 @10:29PM (#52068945)

          Unless you're someone who goes "oh shiny - must have" it doesn't affect you, and if advertising affects you that much, you have bigger problems.

          I work in the micro-targeting business and we love people like you. It is the ones who think they are immune to the work we do that are actually the most susceptible because you'll never see it coming. It hasn't been about in-your-face advertising for at least a decade.

          It is about swaying you without you even realizing you are being swayed. Here's an egregious example: One of our clients sells alcohol. They use our data to figure out who has alcoholics in their family and then we send them snail-mail coupons for significant discounts on their products, sometimes even completely free, because we know that alcoholism has genetic and environmental components that family members often share and because 10% of the population accounts for 50% of the industry's profits. [washingtonpost.com] Those are the people they want to sucker in. And guess what? When the data shows that a heavy drinker has stopped drinking, we send them coupons for freebies too. But we don't just mail them out directly, we have them printed up in their newspaper or their magazine subscription. So it isn't obvious that they've been singled out.

          And then there are the politicians (and their superpacs). They use our service to figure out exactly what people's hot button issues are so their campaign and best push those buttons to make them vote for their candidate. [washingtonpost.com] Or if there is little chance of getting them to vote for their guy, they do their best to make the voter disgusted with "the other guy" so that they just stay home and don't vote at all. All the big ticket campaigns - presidential and congress do this now and some of the in-state races for important districts are doing it too because it is getting cheaper and cheaper every day.

          And that is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the largest industry on planet earth. Facebook alone is valued at 350 BILLION DOLLARS predicated solely on their ability to manipulate people. It doesn't matter how much mental fortitude you have, you will succumb at some point. My company alone has a 10 million dollar budget for pure research in the field of psychology as it applies to swaying people. As the apocryphal saying goes, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time..."

          The only way to win this game is not to play.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2016 @11:15PM (#52069055)

            Assuming what you say is true, there is a special place in hell for you and others in your field. I really don't know how you can live with yourself knowing that you actively seek opportunities to ruin peoples lives for your own, hollow, financial gain.
            Congrats on making your living preying on the struggles of others.

            Please tell, what joy do you derive from ruining the lives of so many? What makes you wake up in the morning and feel like ripping families apart, devastating innocent children as their parents are thrown in jail or die from their addiction?
            Does your sports car or rolex help you ignore the gut wrenching mass of human despair and destruction that you leave in your wake?

            Addiction is a living hell. It can take every last white knuckled breath for an addict to make the right decision every day, every hour, sometimes every minute.
            I really can't fathom the emptiness of soul it would require for someone to be willing to pursue wealth in such a manner.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            All of your techniques seem to be dependent on stuff that is easily blocked or irrelevant. In the UK there is a mail preference service to opt out of postal spam, and it works. No-one reads newspapers and magazines any more, they are dying and one of the reasons is that they are chock full of manipulative crap.

            Anything web based is fairly easy to block too. So what avenues do you have left for manipulation? Buying billboards near people's homes? seems rather expensive and narrowly focused...

            I'm asking so th

          • Too bad that, even with all my information, you can't sway me with targeted offers. I'm just too old for that stupidity. My uncle taught me a long time ago that if it's a good deal today, it will still be a good deal tomorrow. There is no rush, so I take my time thinking about something, and the answer is usually no, I don't really need that crap. And then usually there's an even better deal down the road ... and usually the answer is still no.

            You simply cannot make be buy something I don't want. This is t

          • This is why I'm effectively "allergic" to advertising and I block it all, I don't watch commercial television, etc. I do watch a few hours of TV sports per year when the local college team is on regular TV, but I strictly and compulsively mute during the ads. I do watch a little media content, but without ads; for example, the show Vikings I stream on the website without ads. If they were to get an ad past my blocker, I'd close the window instantly.

            I can make my own purchasing decisions without any help. Bu

        • My biggest problem with all that automated tracking is that they're just playing a guessing game to try and find out which topics interest me, but they always pick up 95% of crap that I have either zero interest in, or that I'm completely against.

          I wish I could just tell them what my interests really are and be done with it. I've seen that stupid "Helen has a secret" banner so many times but I never understood why they show that to me. I don't care what she does and I've never even watched her show in my li

        • For me, it's related to the principle of "I vote on businesses by spending my money there." I don't like the companies that track internet users, and I would prefer it if we could collectively starve them out of business by using tools like Ghostery.
          Also, I don't know what the future will hold. Right now, all of this tracking seems relatively innocuous, but these are massive datasets, and unforeseen developments could lead to consequences that I don't like.
          • Which is why I say that you should treat the prospect of having private details exposed as a BFD. If you don't care who knows what about you, you are pretty much inoculated against having those data sets used against you in evil ways at a future date.
      • uBlock blocks all 10. HTH
      • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @08:46PM (#52068669)

        Why is Slashdot participating in the tracking?

        Glancing at Ghostery, it's blocking 7 trackers. AdBlock Plus is blocking 3 elements. Right here on Slashdot.

        And what's with all the freaking third-party Javascript on /. (including the aforementioned janrain) -- seems to be more Javascript now that they've been bought out. I've got NoScript blocking the below and Disconnect reporting 4 advertising requests and 25 Google content requests. What the hell /. Why is all this crap necessary?

        • googletagservices.com
        • crsspxl.com
        • ntv.io
        • rpxnow.com
        • d3ezI4ajpp2zy8.cloudfront.net
        • truste.com
        • taboola.com
        • janrain.com
        • stacksocial.com
        • slashdotmedia.com
        • pro-market.net
        • What the hell /. Why is all this crap necessary?

          Same reason it is "necessary" everywhere else. Analytics is a big business now offered by consultants. The internet is no longer about a little "hit counter" on the side of the page. It's about knowing full details of your customers. It's about knowing where they are from, what they do, how they use your site, which pages are popular.

          It's also about paying for content which means ads. Ads sprayed into the night are less effective than targeted ads so to maximise income for a site they participate in ad trac

        • Slashdot content detected by Privacy Badger:

          cdn-social.janrain.com - tracker, block

          ads.pro-market.net - ad network, tracker, block

          analytics.slashdotmedia.com - seems to be some kind of internal tracker, for additional data beyond what is associated with your account and for ACs

          cdn.taboola.com - clickbait and malware delivery platform, block

          s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com - CDN, safe

          d29usylhdk1xyu.cloudfront.net - part of Amazon CDN, safe
          d3ezl4ajpp2zy8.cloudfront.net
          d3hmp0045zy3cs.cloudfront.net

          tag.crsspxl.com - tracker/analytics, block

          a.fsdn.com - CDN that serves Slashdot's images

          www.googletagservices.com - Google ad services, block

          s.ntv.io - Seems to be an Amazon DNS server, presumably part of their CDN

          rpxnow.com - Login via Facebook etc.

          image-assets.stackcommerce.com - tracking and profiling to recommend shit you don't want, block
          images.stackcommerce.com
          api.stacksocial.com

          consent.truste.com - Security services for sites, but also tracks do block
          consent-st.truste.com
          trackerapi.truste.com

          In addition, uBlock Origin also kills:

          pro-market.net - Ads/tracking, block

        • One thing I noticed since the slashdot sale is that the "block advertising" checkbox no longer stays checked. I guess they're playing some sort of cross-site scripting or tracking game with it now? Or they just fiddled it innocently and it hit one of my blockers. No way for me to know... I don't see ads anyways, except however many stories are slashvertisements. Don't click the links and you're safe. Never click links.

    • It's not the tracking so much these days as the threat of malvertising. In the past I objected to advertising because they use my bandwidth and my cpu to do their dirty work for them.

      But now the dirty work includes serving up malware via automated advertising servers, so there is more reason than ever to block ads.

      I'd be happy to pay legitimate sites that I find worthwhile as long as that exempts me from ALL advertising served by their site and their "trusted" partners.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Saturday May 07, 2016 @09:57PM (#52068847) Journal

      I use uMatrix, from the guy that makes uBlock Origin, and it tells me that Janrain is trying to load content here on Slashdot. It is, of course, blocked. I don't use Ghostery since they sold their collected data. They did, at least, warn people ahead of time that they were going to do so. Still, I feel it is sleazy and I already used uMatrix so I didn't really need it. Thus, it got uninstalled. (Raymond Hill - I think is his name, makes good stuff, by the way.)

      Anyhow, you should expect to be tracked but you shouldn't stand for being forced into being tracked. Ask for a refund and move on. That's horrific of them. I see a couple of comments that minimize it. I still firmly believe that you should be able to opt out and have the site work - more so if you're paying for it. On the other hand, if a site tells me they wish for me to not block content then I leave the site and don't return. It's their property and I respect that. I just don't use their content nor do I attempt to circumvent their measures.

      Thoughts... Use uMatrix. With uMatrix you can elect to let Janrain through for that domain and that domain only. They'll be able to track you on that domain but nowhere else. Dump Ghostery and spend a while learning how to use uMatrix. It's whitelist based - so everything's blocked by default. Just remember to save your settings. I start with least permissions and work my way up.

      This way, you're allowing Janrain to work on that site and only that site. It doesn't really do them any good because it's blocked everywhere else. You're even kind of skewing their data which makes it less accurate. Maybe that'll teach them a lesson. Personally, I'd request a refund.

      • Thanks - wish I had mod points!

        Will check out uMatrix as a Ghostery replacement

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          No worries - I've got max karma as it is. ;-) Save 'em for someone who needs them. Play with it for a little while. You'll get used to it - it does have a learning curve.

          Would you like me to share my filters with you?

          Actually, here:
          http://kgiii.gq/tmp/rules.txt [kgiii.gq]

          There's one porn site in there. It blocks the ads and whatnot. It's cam4. *nods* I'm too lazy to go in and delete it. You can or you can just leave it and nobody will be the wiser - you'd not know unless I just told you (or you visited).

          If you want my

  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @07:36PM (#52068429)

    Once upon a time the idea was that you 'paid' for the content you consumed by looking at the ads.

    Once upon a time the idea was also that if you paid a subscription you got the whole package, not a bunch of cherry-on-top paid DLCs for games etc., but like the above idea about ads those days are gone and will never be coming back.

    Businesses will keep pushing and pushing for every last fraction of a cent they can get - and when they reach their absolute maximum possible earnings they start firing people because earnings aren't increasing. Just look at the abject terror a week ago when Apple's earnings weren't increasing like they had. Not that they were losing money, they just weren't earning MORE money than they used to.

    It is insanity.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2016 @07:44PM (#52068455)

      Why the hell do we selectively tolerate this, though. Slashdot is just as bad as anywhere else, plus they're hypocrites. I just checked and one of the sites blocked by Noscript when I load Slashdot is, you guessed it, janrain.com. So, this article is critical of tracking and specifically calls out janrain.com as an undesired tracker while simultaneously serving up tracking scripts from janrain.com. WTF?

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        The question should be why are the tracker-blockers so broken that they can't block the trackers and make websites work?

        I mean, the reason is the site uses AJAX or redirects that link through the tracker typically (which is why most sites break) before sending you onto the next page. The blocker should basically simulate this - except instead of talking to the tracker, it just redirects you to the next page.

        Preventing tracking is not just blocking the trackers, but also either rewriting or substituting the

      • A bit of context here.

        1. This is not an article, it is the rants of one user. Just because one user says he doesn't like something about another site doesn't make Slashdot hypocritical.
        2. This rant of one user was about tracking on a subscription based service. Slashdot does not rely on this structure to the point where I can't actually figure out how to subscribe (assuming you still can). It's not obvious.
        3. This rant was about the fact that if janrain.com was blocked it broke the site. You're posting here

      • Are we forcing your whiny ass to pay for a subscription?
    • No, the idea was that the advertisers paid for the content hoping that you would look at the ads. It isn't actually a difficult concept. It was never the viewer paying. There was never any expectation for an individual viewer to pay attention to ads.

      Those are lies that were just invented in a past few years, seeking to change how you view history. Why do you buy in to whatever narrative you're fed? Beh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh come on sheepy, do better.

      You can see the insanity, you want to do better. That is cl

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        There is no need for the sheepish mockery, mate. We are saying the same thing with slightly different words. There has never been any expectation in advertisement that 100% of the people being exposed to a given ad would pay attention to it; not on websites, not on TV, not on billboards or in newspapers or wherever else ads show up.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's not insanity, it's baked-in corporate DNA. Anyone who attributes human values like "fairness", "honesty", "decency" and "evil" to corporations is delusional. Corporations have only one value: maximize profits. Any actions that maximize profits will be taken. If the action is deemed in human terms to be "wrong", or even "illegal", the only question is "if we do this, will it make us more money, even if there are consequences like fines?" If the answer is affirmative, it is, to the corporation, a "moral

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        So, the ACLU, Habitat for Humanity, The Linux Foundation, FreeBSD Group (I think that was their name), EFF, and FSF are all just profit motivated?

        And you say that other people are delusional?

        • And you say that other people are delusional?

          No, but you are if you can't figure out that it was OBVIOUS that the GP was talking about for-profit corporations owned by share-holders...

          It shouldn't have even had to be said, but I guess it does because there are fools everywhere.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            No, that's certainly not obvious - nor is it conclusive.

            You'll find there are at least a few of us here who are, in one way or another, incorporated and as a for-profit motive. I have a corporation which holds a bunch of my assets. There are two others that I know who do. There are likely more that are legally incorporated and freelancers.

            I'm not sure you really want to go calling people fools. Not only was it not obvious, it still isn't right when you add in for profit corporations.

            Would you like to swing

    • >Once upon a time the idea was also that if you paid a subscription you got the whole package, not a bunch of cherry-on-top paid DLCs for games etc., but like the above idea about ads those days are gone and will never be coming back.

      That is why I never buy new top games, I wait until the "ultimate edition" with all the DLCs comes out a year or two later. It also tends to be cheaper than the original so it is a win in many ways for me and in the end the company gets less total money from me than if they

    • > not a bunch of cherry-on-top paid DLCs for games etc

      You're looking for this DLC image. [imgur.com]

      It has already happened with Hearthstone. You can buy Quests for $24.99.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @07:43PM (#52068445)
    They will sell the fact that you are a paying subscriber to all the other publications that are in their family. You will be traded around like a two dollar whore. By paying for one publication they will try to squeeze every damn cent out of you.

    The few times that I have subscribed to a magazine, I can't even begin to count how much crap they sent me to upgrade, give their publication as a gift, to buy addons, to buy similar magazines, and then as my subscriptions ran out, the near non-stop torrent to hold onto me as a customer were making up a sizeable chunk of my weekly paper mail.

    Even consumer reports which is supposed to be above the commercial fray was only a hair from sending missionaries to my door to convert me back to their flock of subscribers. One science publication kept sending me letters of ever growing desperation saying that these letters were killing them and that it would be better if I renewed my subscription earlier than cost them so much sending these out.

    For you tracking will be so last year, it will be stalking, hunting, and all around sharks who smell blood behaviour.
    • They will sell the fact that you are a paying subscriber to their trusted partners.

      FIXED!

    • Absolutely! There is no way I'm going to subscribe to anything. Then they know who I am, and that I spent money. It is worse than clicking "unsubscribe" instead of "spam."

      I kept buying magazines right up until they stopped selling them (the ones I used to buy) in brick-and-mortar stores. The available magazines seem to mostly be full of fluff and advertising. Presumably most of the subscribers don't actually read them, they just like having some recent stuff on the coffee table, ideally with a few pictures.

    • Even consumer reports which is supposed to be above the commercial fray was only a hair from sending missionaries to my door to convert me back to their flock of subscribers. One science publication kept sending me letters of ever growing desperation saying that these letters were killing them and that it would be better if I renewed my subscription earlier than cost them so much sending these out.

      Sounds familiar. I was at one time, during the dark ages, , a subscriber to AOL. My bills became outrageous. I tried to figure it out with them, but they took a "Not our Problem" approach. Finally, I figured out they were not giving me the X number of minutes free that I was paying for, and charging me for every minute I was on line. So With more effort than unsubbing to Comcast, I unsubscribed. Then the onslaught began. Weekly letters, weekly AOL Diskettes, then CD's. Phone calls. "We want you back" relen

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      You always, always wait until the very last possible chance (you're on your last issue) and they will (nearly invariably) send you a special price to renew your subscription for pennies on the dollar. I've been subscribing to dead-tree magazines this way for years. I don't even really care about saving the money - it's just general principle and I like having the magazines - and I put 'em all nice and neat in a section in my "library" (only word I've got for it) when I'm done reading the interesting bits.

      So

  • Lots and lots of shitposting.
  • The content of Slate is some of my favorite on the internet, but every time I try to interact with anything technical it pisses the fuck out of me. Their comments system is horrible, and won't even load half the time. The commenters themselves seem to be pretty good, but participating in the conversation is a nightmare.

    So I am not surprised at all the back-end designed by whomever the English Majors hired requires some weird-ass obscure tracking software that's more then a wee skoch shady.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @08:11PM (#52068545)

    Yes.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @08:12PM (#52068549) Homepage

    The easiest answer to the question of whether or not you find it acceptable is, whether or not your find it acceptable. Don't like it stop being their customer. Still somewhat interested, inform them of the reason you stopped being their customer and check back every now and again to see if they change, until either you get bored coming back to check and stop or they change. There are just, so, so many choices out there and it will only grow, especially with accurate auto-translators on the horizon, content available from all over the world.

    For me either the web site is OK and they get cookies and scripts or they are not and 'no cookies for you'. This extends to publishing houses (kill off everyone of their websites cookies and scripts) to advertising agencies (kill off their cookies and scripts no matter where they are).

    What ever you preference is as a customer should always drive your choices on the internet ie Don't like that they promote wasteful consumption of fossil fuels, drop them and go else where, there are thousands upon thousands of other places to go. Don't like the politics of the owner, drop them, there is an whole internet of alternates. Don't like the products they promote, simply go elsewhere. You can also choose whether or not to let them know why. Don't forget https://www.google.com.au/?cli... [google.com.au] , it really is just so easy.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Let me see... I shouldn't do this in public but I'm going to potentially fail big here...

      Your name is Robert. You use Ubuntu. You live in Australia, specifically Adelaide. I believe your middle name is Tony but perhaps that's a nickname. Your last name, well, it begins with the letter B. (We'll let folks who wish to dig a bit deeper do so on their own) I could go off on a personality profile and probably be fairly accurate but you'd take offense as you deem yourself an intellectual and believe yourself to b

  • Is the Pope Catholic?

    OF FUCKING COURSE you're going to be tracked. Fuck you, pleb, that's why.

  • Minimizing Tracking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DERoss ( 1919496 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @08:25PM (#52068599)

    The short answer to the original question is "Yes, they can and will track you."

    However, you can making tracking very difficult. The following is what I do. This for those who use Firefox or SeaMonkey as their browser on a Windows system. NOTE WELL the exception.

    1. Mark the file cookies.sqlite as read-only. For "smooth" Web browsing, I do want some cookies. To set or update them, I terminate my browser, mark cookies read-write, launch my browser to visit ONLY the Web site for which I want cookies, terminate my browser to eliminate session-only cookies, and restore the read-only setting for cookies.sqlite. Web site might act as if they were setting cookies, but those cookies are lost when I terminate my browser.

    2. Disable geolocation. For all of my profiles, I insert the following into file user.js:
                      user_pref("geo.enabled", false);
      The semi-colon (;) at the end of the line is mandatory. You can insert an adjacent comment line indicating why you did this; just begin the comment with two virgules (//).

    3. Install the Secret Agent extension from https://www.dephormation.org.u... [dephormation.org.uk]. Each time I request a Web page, my outgoing Internet headers are different. Some sites that try to use those headers to determine my location have me bouncing all over the world. Every time I go to Panopticlick at https://panopticlick.eff.org/ [eff.org], I get a different result. Two NOTES: (1) Because some Web sites require consistent user agents as you navigate through them, I disabled the extension's capability to vary my user agent string. (2) Because Firefox now requires extensions to be signed by Mozilla and the developer of Secret Agent refuses to submit his extension for signature, this cannot be installed in Firefox. Unsigned extensions can still be installed in SeaMonkey.

    • by radish ( 98371 )

      1. Isn't it easier to just run in incognito mode? That has the same effect (cookies are only set in memory, never written to disk).
      2. Pointless. Geolocation is done via IP address, so you'd need a VPN to confuse that.
      3. I've never heard of geolocation via "internet headers"...fingerprinting yes...but not location. That plugin is a nice idea for defeating fingerprints...but a lot of those options sound kinda pointless. Messing with the etag/cache-control headers will very possibly mean you see inconsistent c

      • If you check the site, you'll see the extension adds an 'X-Forwarded-For' header with a random IP address. This tells the server on the far end that you're using a VPN and your real IP address is that random value.

        That requires the site's tracking stuff to be moderately smart (to know about the header in the first place) but not terribly smart (or it would look up the owner IP on the far end of the connection and, if it's a residential ISP, trust that rather than a randomly generated IP address).

        Omitting et

  • Use particular browsers for particular sites. A feature I'd love for a browser to have would be something in-between the "everything goes" mode and Incognito mode. Something that siloed each site, letting it store data from itself but not see what anything else was doing, would be absolutely fantastic. Each site you visited would be told, in effect, that the only site you ever visited was theirs.
  • I don't bother too much blocking tracker cookies as upon closing a tab all cookies that belong to it are automatically removed as well. So tracking is limited to the one site that sends these cookies (and they don't need that to follow me on their site), and whatever I may happen to use in the other tabs that time and that happens to use the same tracker service. This should allow me to log in to Slate Plus, accepting all tracker cookies, but seconds after I close the tab those trackers are gone just the sa

  • Should be a place for related books and references on such a rich topic. Currently reading "Future Crimes", which is highly relevant to this topic. The discussion also reminded me of "The Filter Bubble" and I just remembered "The Future of the Internet" and "Who Owns the Future?" as related books.

  • I always wonder why sites need so many trackers. I've seen sights that served up more than a dozen tracker scripts. I wouldn't doubt if the actual content was dwarfed by the tracker scripts. Several times sites have failed to load because a tracker script was slow to download. Thank goodness for Ghostery. Running Ghostery is a real eye opener, to say nothing of a requirement for safe web browsing in my opinion.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Thank goodness for Ghostery. Running Ghostery is a real eye opener, to say nothing of a requirement for safe web browsing in my opinion.

      Given that with Ghostery, you have to access their web site to change settings and give them plenty of information, I'd say no. That's spying on its users too. Even if you don't opt in to share information about the sites you visit, you still send them the information about what you have chosen to block and unblock, which is doing the advertiser's job for them. So you don't like cosmetics ads but are okay with car ads? Great of you to tell them, so their partners can better tailor your "experience".
      Or

      • [quote]with Ghostery, you have to access their web site to change settings[/quote]

        The settings page built-in to the Ghostery extension is not part of their website, just as it isn't for uBlock, Adblock Plus, or any of the other extensions that use the same mechanism for settings.

        As for giving them information, even if Ghostery does know what trackers you've blocked (and I'm not sure they do) - which trackers you've blocked doesn't tell them much, certainly not what your interests are. Besides, why wouldn't
      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        As other poster said, Ghostery blocks and configures locally. It doesn't rely on a service, and you don't have to synchronize between machines. Ghostery can do that if you create a login, but that's completely optional. And if it becomes not the case (like when the Readability plugin jumped shark), it can be forked. I'm not giving anyone any information when I change settings.

        Furthermore Ghostery's defaults are very simple and when first turned on almost all users just block all ad trackers with one cl

  • And become a king. Make a fucking executive decision.

    Only you can decide to have a spine.

  • by antdude ( 79039 )

    It doesn't matter if it is free or not. They will always be tracking you!

  • I had an unpaid account to comment there, via LiveFyre.

    All other unnecessary 3rd party domains were blocked.

    One day the "Sign In" and "Sign Up" links presented blank panels.

    I poked around a bit, and quickly gave up.

    I rarely commented, enjoyed "moderating" others' comments, but just wasn't worth it.

    This article had me go back and allow JanRain - still no work.

    Unlike the submitter, I find Slate's content fairly unimpressive, but the commentors - they're great. There are a lot of very clever, very humorous pe

  • it's completely unacceptable. tell the site to GFTS and demand a refund.

  • Short answer: Yes, of course you should expect tracking. I mean, who the fuck do you think you are? Now be quiet and let them monetize your clickstream, bitch.

    "create a holistic view of your business by collecting, analyzing and reporting all customer interactions. To derive the most actionable insights, you must link your customers' actions with who they are and what their interests are. Janrain bridges the gap by connecting demographic and psychographic data, collected through traditional and social login

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