Ad-Blocking

Keywords:

– Cookies

– Filter lists

– Third-party

– Ad-Blocking              

– Web privacy

Definition:

A cookie is a self-help technology more precisely a text file that saves your web browser. This creates a personal profile to the user. Despite its inconveniences: fragility, manual updating and expiry it remains the most adequate web tool because it conveys implicit consent. Many online advertising companies such as: ‘Interclick, Specific Media, and Quantcast’ used cookies with the purpose of tracking users. It has been discovered that one of the most famous global companies: Microsoft used cookies with the purpose of “syncing an advertising identifier across web properties” (Mayer, Mitchell, 2012 pp. 421)

A short summary of the Article:

People are really annoyed by web advertisements. They are finding techniques in order to avoid ads or more specifically to block them. According to Ads and Ad-Block usage in the Wild the most concerning source for advertising industries is, Adblock Plus. The reading shows that this tool is a great threat to advertising industries since “More than 30M users surf the web daily […] with this extension enabled.” (Pujol, Hohlfed, Feldmann, 2015 pp.1) This brings obnoxious advertisements to appear in the web and revenues of industries decline. This is because, “Ad-Blockers […] ‘evade paying’ for the content they consume.” (Pujol, Hohlfed, Feldmann, 2015 pp.1) The basic functionality of this tool is to filter advertisements which appear in a users filter list and if they match a URL, Ad-block Plus will immediately block the site from the browser, reducing web traffic and avoiding the advertisements. There are 22.2% of active Ad-Block plus users. Furthermore, it is shown that “Adblock Plus users […] do not configure it to protect their privacy” (Pujol, Hohlfed, Feldmann, 2015 pp.7) but just to get rid of the invasive adverts.

Looking closely, Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology focuses majorly on ‘privacy implications’ examining how First-party websites enable Third-party to gain information from users. In other words, how the evolution of the web has made easily identifiable the identity of the users through out Web tracking and Third party. This is clearly shown with Facebook for example that “over 800 million users […] provide their real name to the service.” (Mayer, Mitchell, 2012 pp.415)

A brief reflection:

Privacy issues are a huge concern to society. This is clearly shown with the social network ‘Twitter’ that gives access to third parties to browse a users activity by looking at the exact time and location of publication. Taken this case, a competitor of a company could easily track a consumer profile looking at his browsing activities and can sell and steal the tracked data from the company profile just for their benefit. A very clear example is one of the most common scenarios which has been reported: “A hacker breaks into a tracking company and publishes its tracking information, causing some embarrassing fact about the consumer to become known and inflicting emotional distress.” (Mayer, Mitchell, 2012 pp.416) This is a clear harm to the consumer and it shows that there is no market pressure since the majority of the users unfortunately do not know the existence of many Third Party websites.

A question for classroom discussion:

Is the subscription to Ad-Blocking tools going to make adverts disappear or is it going to continuously track individuals searches and store huge amounts of information that will result in future threats to whom is accessing the web?

 

References:

Mayer, J. R., & Mitchell, J. C. (2012, May). Third-party web tracking: Policy and technology. In 2012 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (pp. 413-427). IEEE.

Pujol, E., Hohlfeld, O., & Feldmann, A. (2015, October). Annoyed Users: Ads and Ad-Block Usage in the Wild. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Conference on Internet Measurement Conference (pp. 93-106). ACM.

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