Don Marti

Wed 14 Nov 2012 07:59:12 AM PST

Destroying the Internet as we know it (ftw)

tl;dr: Don't like skeevy pirate sites? Give your browser a privacy tuneup.

Ricardo Bilton asks, While behavioral advertising may be vital to the current makeup of the web, the question worth answering now is this: Is that really the kind of Internet that we want to use in the first place?

Will privacy tech (Do Not Track is just the beginning; tools such as about:trackers are the next step) destroy the Internet as we know it? And is that such a bad thing?

Good question. Current trend is for more and more of online marketing budgets to go towards creepy adtech. The promise of adtech is: throw money at people who know lots of math, so that you don't have to spend money on content to attach the ads to. The knights of adtech will just chase down the users you want to show your ads to, and stick the ads on the cheapest possible content that the user is willing to look at.

So where do the ads end up? In a lot of cases, on pirate sites. Chris Castle points out that McDonald's ads are running on skeevy infringing song lyrics sites.

But Castle and allied artists are missing an opportunity here. When confronted with the biggest brands in the world supporting pirate sites based in China and outside the laws of John Mellencamp’s home country, what can an artist really do about it except speak out.

But this is the Internet. You can always do something about it—that's why they call it the Internet.

Speak out is a start. But here's a next step. Get your browser upgraded with the latest privacy tech. AdBlock Plus is OK, but about:trackers is already usable. Turn it on, block the creepy ads, and tell your Internet audience about what you did.

Hey, why not make a privacy tech howto video? Hi, I'm John Mellencamp, and here's how to save time and protect your privacy... How about it? Finish up with a plug for your favorite legit download site or some other sponsor.