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Cory Doctorow EFF

Adblocking: how about nah?

Cory Doctorow, writing for EFF about the history and present of adblocking: The rise and rise of ad-blockers (and ad-blocker-blocker-blockers) is without parallel: 26% of Internet users are now blocking ads, and the figure is rising. It’s been called the biggest boycott in human history. It’s also something we’ve seen before, in the earliest days of the Web, when pop-up ads ruled the world (wide web), and users went to war against them. Fascinating. I’d never heard of adversarial interoperability before.

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Wired Icon Wired

The clever cryptography behind Apple's 'Find My' feature

In upcoming versions of iOS and macOS, the new Find My feature will broadcast Bluetooth signals from Apple devices even when they’re offline, allowing nearby Apple devices to relay their location to the cloud… it turns out that Apple’s elaborate encryption scheme is also designed not only to prevent interlopers from identifying or tracking an iDevice from its Bluetooth signal, but also to keep Apple itself from learning device locations, even as it allows you to pinpoint yours. WIRED with a fascinating explanation of an utterly fascinating scheme.

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Mozilla Icon Mozilla

Mozilla has published their 2019 Internet Health Report

The report focuses on 5 questions about the internet. Is it safe? How open is it? Who is welcome? Who can succeed? Who controls it? The answer is complicated, and the report doesn’t make any particular conclusions so much as share a series of research & stories about each topic. Includes some fascinating looks at what’s going on in AI, inclusive design, open source, decentralization and more.

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Brendan Eich brave.com

Brave wants to reward you for your attention

Brave has launched its “built on privacy” advertising platform that will give you 70% of the ad revenue share as a reward for your attention. I’m particularly interested in the opt-in nature of this platform as well as their promise of privacy and security. Starting today, users of Brave’s latest release of the desktop browser for macOS, Windows, and Linux can choose to view privacy-preserving Brave Ads by opting into Brave Rewards. These users will receive 70% of the ad revenue share as a reward for their attention… Brave Ads also provides brands with direct opportunities to highlight offers and engage with users as they browse the web. Since Brave Ads are opt-in, brands know with certainty that when their campaigns run with Brave, their ads are viewed by people who welcome advertising. Brave’s anonymous-but-accountable campaigns ensure that advertisers are connecting with the users they are seeking, removing the excessive costs, privacy, security, and fraud risks currently associated with middlemen in digital advertising.

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Mozilla Icon Mozilla

“Privacy. That’s iPhone” — made us raise our eyebrows

For all our #applenerds out there — a key feature in iPhone has Mozilla worried. According to Ashley Boyd, VP of Advocacy at Mozilla, this key feature is making “their latest slogan ring a bit hollow.” Each iPhone that Apple sells comes with a unique ID (called an “identifier for advertisers” or IDFA), which lets advertisers track the actions users take when they use apps. It’s like a salesperson following you from store to store while you shop and recording each thing you look at. Not very private at all. You can turn the feature off, but “most people don’t know that feature even exists.” Mozilla has an idea of “privacy by default” though…

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Victor Zhou victorzhou.com

Why I replaced Disqus and you should too

Victor Zhou: Switching away from Disqus reduced my page weight by over 10x and my network requests by over 6x. Disqus is bloated and sells your data - there are much better alternatives out there. Disqus has been the de facto comment engine used for dev blogging (especially for SSGs) for years. I’m happy to learn there are less bloated and privacy-focused alternatives out there.

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Google pcmaffey.com

How to build a free, privacy-focused alternative to Google Analytics

Google Analytics runs on over 56% of all websites. It’s the backbone of ad-tech across the web. Unfortunately, for site owners like me who just want to learn how people are using their website—while respecting their privacy—there simply aren’t any alternatives that meet all my requirements. So in two days, after a couple dead-ends, I built my own using React, AWS Lambda, and a spreadsheet. This is how. It’s somewhat ironic that the datastore for this project is Google Sheets. That aside, this is a well-done effort and one that I wouldn’t mind adapting for use around these parts.

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Firefox zdnet.com

Firefox to add Tor Browser anti-fingerprinting technique called letterboxing

Called “letterboxing,” this new technique adds “gray spaces” to the sides of a web page when the user resizes the browser window, which are then gradually removed after the window resize operation has finished. This appears to be a major win for privacy advocates. It also seems like a chink in the armor of Chrome’s dominance, given that many people have lost trust in its privacy model.

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Safari adage.com

Apple's new anti-tracking feature in Safari takes toll

The irony here is that the site we’re linking to for this story is FULL of display ads. The web and mobile web for content sites, blogs, and the like tend to borderline on a confusing and/or terrible experience because of ads, modals, takeover screens, content that seems like content but is just content in disguise…then, THEN…the retargeting. I can see why Apple, with their focus on the users privacy, that this feature is a Safari thing and being lead by Apple. The feature—blandly dubbed “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” or “ITP 2”— is the second major iteration of its anti-tracking tool, which was first introduced last year. The update prevents marketers from targeting Safari users across the web. For example, someone who visits Nike’s website can’t be targeted elsewhere on the web, such as Google search or the New York Times website. I’m all for websites finding ways to make money from smart relationships, partnerships, and “ads,” but they must be delivered in well-mannered and tasteful ways that does not objectify the reader or their privacy.

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EFF Icon EFF

Google Chrome’s users take a back seat to its bottom line

In the documents that define how the Web works, a browser is called a user agent. It’s supposed to be the thing that acts on your behalf in cyberspace. If the massive data collection appetite of Google’s advertising- and tracking-based business model are incentivizing Chrome to act in Google’s best interest instead of yours, that’s a big problem—one that consumers and regulators should not ignore. It’s no surprise that privacy-focused browser alternatives are gaining ground in the quest to be your user agent. This coming week, we’re sitting down with Brave’s CTO for what should turn out to be a fascinating episode of The Changelog. Stay tuned for that.

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John Gruber daringfireball.net

Daring Fireball on Facebook giving advertisers your shadow contact info

Commentary on commentary here, but seriously — we obviously track news on privacy and security — Gruber’s paraphrase from Kashmir Hill’s post on Gizmodo is priceless. Here is Gruber’s take… Hill: Facebook, are you doing this terrible thing? Facebook: No, we don’t do that. Hill, months later: Here’s academic research that shows you do this terrible thing. Facebook: Yes, of course we do that. I agree with Gruber on Facebook being a morally criminal enterprise. Also, I try to avoid Facebook, aside from my wife’s usage, at all costs. I’m even leery of Instagram, which is sad because one of my professional hobbies is photography. Gruber says: At this point I consider Facebook a criminal enterprise. Maybe not legally, but morally. How in the above scenario is Facebook not stealing Ben’s privacy?

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Medium Icon Medium

An Efail postmortem

Efail caused a panic at the disco: … some researchers in Europe published a paper with the bombshell title “Efail: Breaking S/MIME and OpenPGP Email Encryption using Exfiltration Channels.” There were a lot of researchers on that team but in the hours after release Sebastian Schinzel took the point on Twitter for the group. Oh, my, did the email crypto world blow up. The following are some thoughts that have benefited from a few days for things to settle. Lots of interesting insights here, perhaps most controversially how the EFF’s handling of the situation may have done more harm than good in the author’s opinion. Also: we could stand to have a renewed appreciation for OpenPGP’s importance to not just email crypto, but the global economy. I can say I definitely have more appreciation for it after reading this than I did before. I hadn’t thought about its influence (which is huge) outside of encrypted email.

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Zack Whittaker zdnet.com

I asked Apple for all my data. Here's what was sent back.

Zack Whittaker writes for Zero Day: Apple gave me all the data it collected on me since I bought my first iPhone — in 2010. This is what has largely stood out to me in the ongoing discussion about what data the four have on me and how they use it… As insightful as it was, Apple’s treasure trove of my personal data is a drop in the ocean to what social networks or search giants have on me, because Apple is primarily a hardware maker and not ad-driven, like Facebook and Google, which use your data to pitch you ads. Want to request your data? It takes just a few seconds…

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Cloudflare Blog Icon Cloudflare Blog

Cloudflare announces 1.1.1.1 - the fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service

For those wanting to 86 8.8.8.8, here’s the 411 on 1.1.1.1. They’re making some pretty big claims here. One is that it’s fast (which DNSPerf corroborates). The other big claim is that it’s “privacy-first”. This one is a bit harder to corroborate but their promise is pretty convincing: We will never log your IP address (the way other companies identify you). And we’re not just saying that. We’ve retained KPMG to audit our systems annually to ensure that we’re doing what we say. If you care about speed and privacy (you should) there is a good chance you should consider switching to this.

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