Behavioral Targeting You

Prompted by: reasonably serious privacy concerns

Anyone appreciating the sense in defending your privacy will appreciate this post (well, that’s my preference anyway).

Although it may seem to be just focused upon a particular email service (one you probably don’t use), as traditional here, there’s a basic principle applying to us all.

Anyone who has ever tried to manage their own email server (e.g. yours truly) understands the serious challenge due to serious technological complexity. My solution was to abandon that complexity for the convenient world of Zoho.com (a Gmail competitor).

In thankful addition to allowing one domain name to be freely used with their service (unlike Google charging monthly for that feature), they supposedly don’t scan emails on behalf of behavioral targeting (as Google apparently does), and that appears to remain true based upon my cursory read.

However, if you go to their privacy page, you’ll see a section called “Behavioral Targeting/Re-Targeting” (as I found only by digging fairly deep into their privacy change announcement).

There’s a tiny link to opt-out, and this is where it gets informative for us all.

I selected that link, which then carried me to “Your Advertising Choices” of TRUSTe. There’s roughly 100 companies behaviorally tracking me — even though I almost religiously use ad, script, and cookie blocking — and never opted in by any measure (except indirectly apparently via the many license agreements requiring acceptance prior to use). I don’t even recognize most of those companies that apparently know me so scarily well.

Selecting the opt-out for all of them leaves minutes gone by, which raises the question towards an explanation for that lengthy duration in computational terms (I credibly assume an automatic opt-out process should be fairly close to lightning quick).

If the process goes smoothly, it takes “up to a few minutes to process”. In my case, it didn’t go smoothly as many minutes rested upon “99%” complete.

I cancelled and am trying again (and still got stuck at 99%), while noticing some companies display “opt-out fail” at least from the initial process.

In my very busy life (albeit one balancing healthy work and relaxation ethics), this is a reasonably serious pain in the ass, but extends to raise serious ethical issues journalistically unethically unaddressed by the mainstream media due likely to being in bed with the powerful advertising industry forcing their conflicting business model up our ‘average consumer’ asses (and telling us we like it).

Why does it take so long to process this request under normal circumstances? What kind of involuntary entrenchment has rooted itself to my experiences to necessitate a computationally lengthy process?

The conflict of interest by way of serious financial interest to record my life for informational sale to anyone (at least for all intents and purposes) is severe.

My information (and how it’s used or abused) has a significant impact upon my life (especially when the information is wrong — e.g. Respect Cannabis is not a business, advertisers, so stop sending junk mail addressed to Respect Cannabis).

It’s problematic to judicially allow information about me to be effectively stolen for such uninvited abuse (by any sane measure, theft is rights infringement, so harmful).

It’s an informational jungle out there, so best beware.

When considering that most people don’t block ads/scripts/cookies, and (unlike yours truly) installs many “free” apps (games, gags, etc.), it makes me cringe to think about how deeply rooted informational theft truly has become with no sign of stoppage.

The answer isn’t government interference, because they can’t be trusted due to conflict of interest (at least from powerful lobbying, but the public sector also wants to surreptitiously record your life to “protect the children”), and law cannot come close to keeping up with technological adaptation (law is never supposed to work rapidly that way, so never expect a positive change against that massive discrepancy).

The answer is technologists making and selling privacy defense gateway apps (and other products/services relying upon a solid privacy feature) that are intuitive for the ‘common person’ and marketed competitively (it’s not enough to just have a great product/service — one needs to market it greatly too, even if only by the best form of marketing, which is simply word-of-mouth).

It’s basically the classic black hat versus white hat war in the land of computer hackers. Black hats leverage computer power for malicious means, and white hats defend against them. That’s overly simplistic solely for brevity, and I hate using colors absolutely connected to right and wrong, but you get the point.

Rights-infringing technology can only be defeated by rights-protecting technology, and the only logical place for that conflict is your data gateways (e.g. your phone, car, home, and business).

Meanwhile, my hassle has only resulted in 99% complete (so incomplete), but this cannot be permanently over.

If you think malevolent organizations can’t or won’t buy your informational life to be abused against you and/or yours, then what basis forms that thought? Your short-term convenience?

Directly easy is the lubricant of life, so directly easy is a (potentially dangerously) powerful momentum starter.

Wake up, folks (obviously aside from those of you already awake on this important front). Freedom isn’t free, and neither is the software (including websites) that you’re using.

How much behavioral targeting is occurring just from reading “my” journal here? If the answer is ‘any’, then I need to secure enough resources to build the journal module for my Freedom website engine, because I refuse to embrace hypocrisy to the fullest possible extent — and my life (like any challenging one) generally doesn’t come lubricated much to my direct pain but eventual reward.

I do believe there’s a place for ethical advertising (people do need and want to be made aware of useful products/services), but this hideously pulsating advertising weed internationally deeply rooted into each of our lives is dangerous against public safety.

Sure it’s not as dramatic looking as a towering inferno roughly half way around the world making top national news here, but it certainly impresses in terms of mass risk and destruction.

In a world where consumers understandably want advertising in the metaphorical form of the occasional glass of water, that desire explodes into a monstrously a largely continuous set of inundating fire hoses pressing (arguably too often unhealthily) against our neurology.

I'm an honest freak (or reasonably responsibly balanced "misfit", if you prefer) of an entertainer working and resting as my careful contribution to help improve society. Too many people abuse reasoning (e.g. 'partial truth = whole truth' scam), while I exercise reason to explore and express whole truth without any conflict-of-interest.

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Posted in TechYes

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