Skip to content

Category: Going Digital and the Copyright

So what is the state of the Ads mess?

Ads on the web have many problems:

Ad selection criteria have been abused for dissemination of propaganda, for targeted malware attacks. Content sites have basically lost the control over what kind of stuff they deliver through the ad-space on their site. Tracking is increasingly a concern for users. Ads bloat sites, slow down page display times and mess with peoples mobile data plans. Ads use power and create heat in devices with a tight power budgets (basically, anything that runs on a battery and has no fans, phones, tablets, laptops). Ads play unwanted video and audio, open layers and windows, popovers and popunders. Ads destroy usability and layout on content sites.

Leave a Comment

Flattr 2.0

Do you remember Flattr? Me neither.

Flattr was a micropayment system for blogs, allowing you to mark a blog article for payment when you liked it. A fixed amount you budget for micropayments per month was then being distributed equally across all flattr’d articles. So assuming you budget 10 EUR per month for flattr, and you clicked on 20 things a months, each thing would earn their creator 0.50 EUR that month.

In reality, Flattr existed mostly to generate and finance Podcasts by Tim Pritlove, of course.

3 Comments

Google Chrome integrates Adblocker

The Ad and Adblock situations both are now so bad that even Google considers integrating an Adblocker by default into the Chrome browser.

This is a twofold action. It’s purpose is of course to filter out ads, the worst of the worst in annoyance and the obvious malvertising. It’s purpose is also to take back control on adblocking, because it will let through acceptable ads according to the Coalition for Better Ads standards.

CfBA condemns Popups, Sound, Prestitials and Large Stickies on the Desktop, and more on mobile.

It will be interesting to see if it changes anything. People are truly beyond caring.

1 Comment

What happened to Google’s book scanning project

The Atlantic has a wonderful article about the Google book scanning project and what became of it.

In 2002, Google began mass scanning every book it could possibly their hands on, OCRing it and making it searchable. Authors and publishers soon began sueing Google from here to the south pole and back, but in the end realized that they did not actually want to win their lawsuits.

1 Comment

Bose Connect App creates illegal listening profiles

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Bose, by Kyle Zak, on the grounds of the Bose Connect App for their wireless headphones creating illegal listening profiles, and sharing data with data miners.

1. Defendant Bose manufactures and sells high-end wireless headphones and speakers. To fully operate its wireless products, customers must download Defendant’s “Bose Connect” mobile application from the Apple App or Google Play stores and install it on their smartphones. With Bose Connect, customers can “pair” their smartphones with their Bose wireless products, which allows them to access and control their settings and features.

2. Unbeknownst to its customers, however, Defendant designed Bose Connect to (i) collect and record the titles of the music and audio files its customers choose to play through their Bose wireless products and (ii) transmit such data along with other personal identifiers to third-parties—including a data miner—without its customers’ knowledge or consent.

Affected are all users of the Bose Connect App, that is minimum users of the QuietComfort 35, SoundSport Wireless, Sound Sport Pulse Wireless, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, and SoundLink Color II (“Bose Wireless Products”), but possibly more.

Fun Fact: The German adjective meaning “evil” is “böse”.

3 Comments

Perceptual Ad Highlighter

Perceptual Ad Highlighter is a Chrome Plugin that detects and highlights ads using image/layout recognition on a rendered page/DOM tree.

As law required that ad-content is marked and visually identifyable as promoted content, the plugin renders the page and then visually analyzes the page layout to detect and mark ads.

The source is available on Github, and a paper describes the technology (PDF).

To turn this into a proper ad-blocker, a dual buffering approach would be necessary, in which the full page is rendered into a hidden buffer, including all ads. The perceptual adblocker would then identify the parts of the page that are content and copy them over into a secondary page that is shown to the user sans advertising. The extension could also simulate user interaction with the hidden page to fool robot detection Javascript.

1 Comment

Native Ad Blocking in Chrome

According to an article in The Verge, Google is rumored to implement native adblocking in Chrome.

The option would be opt-in, and it would remove any and all “unacceptable” ads as defined by Coalition for Better Ads industry group. Those types of ads include pop-up ads, autoplay videos, and what are known as prestitial ads, or those ads that are often fullscreen and show up before you’re taken to the homepage or desired website.

The majority of web users have installed adblockers by now, and adblockers have been increasingly recognized as a malware fighting tool, preventing drive-by exploits by targeted malvertising.

Native Adblocking would be a good way for Google to control the agenda, and to push the Coalition for Better Ads style of advertising – a way for the advertising industry to reign in the wild-west style of user profiling, malvertising, and generally making web browing a bad experience.

This is definitively a step into the right direction, but too little, too late.

 

2 Comments

Malvertising – we have only seen the beginning

Netzpolitik.org has an article (in German) in which they are interviewing IT-Security Consultant Thorsten Schröder on Adblockers, wasted capped mobile bandwidth and Malvertising.

netzpolitik.org: Neben dem Schutz vor Malware, welche weiteren Gründe für die Nutzung von Adblockern findest Du wichtig?

Thorsten Schröder: Wenn wir als Malware all das klassifizieren, was Nutzer ausspioniert, täuscht, kompromittiert oder finanziell schädigt, haben wir im Grunde schon mal eine ganze Reihe an Gründen abgehakt. Nutzer müssen die Möglichkeit haben, selbstbestimmt das Schutzniveau ihres Computers bestimmen zu dürfen. Hat die Bundesregierung vielleicht mal das Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) gefragt? Es wäre eine gute Gelegenheit für das BSI, zu zeigen, was es drauf hat.

»netzpolitik.org: Besides the protection against malware, what other reasons for using Adblockers are important to you?

Thorsten Schröder: If we classify things as malware which spy on users, deceive them, compromise them or harm them financially, we have in principle covered all reasons. Users you have the right to determine the level of protection their computers need. Did our administration ask their Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI)? It would be a good opportunity for the BSI to show what they can do.«

1 Comment