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The Government's Plan To Kill Independent Web Sites

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posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 01:08 PM
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"They" are scared -- scared of the seismic shift in media. The power lost by the media giants is terrifying. Well-established filters of information, painstakingly crafted over decades of manipulation and control, are being shattered by small independent web sites. "Free speech" has secretly been a right granted only to the chosen few who play the game and contribute to political campaigns.

"They" are panic-striken -- in a panic over you, the millions of people being given free reign to say what you want on web sites outside the traditional channels of control. To "them", "free speech" is an abstract concept not intended to be entrusted to anyone with a computer and a keyboard. You do not play the game, you are a disruptor, you are unwanted, you must be removed.

Who are "they" and "them"? The government, of course. But more specifically, the representatives and senators living in the back-pockets of media and telecommunications giants -- with a smattering of the stunningly small number of power-weilders fixated on rolling back to a mix of media that can be controlled and manipulated to feed you the mental pabulum that keeps you sedated.

Fortunately for us, "they" have a face, and the face of our enemy is Representative Rick Boucher (democrat from Virginia), the new chairman of the House Subcommittee tasked with telecommunications technology and the Internet. This enemy of free expression, living comfortably in the back pockets of big media and telecommunications, is planning to craft legislation designed to obliterate millions of independent voices on the Internet and shift power back into the hands of big media and big telcom.

Oh, but that's impossible, you might say, free speech on the Internet has blossomed to a proportion where thoughts of control or destruction are absurd. Well my friends, I'm here to warn you that such absurdity is very much a reality. And, worse yet, the spin doctors and manipulative conspiracy of information obfuscation may even cause many of you to be in favor of the legislation that kills accessible free speech on the Internet.


Congress To Grill Web Companies Thursday

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is widely expected to introduce new privacy legislation soon, but nothing is on the table as of today. Still, industry insiders are speculating that new legislation might require Web companies to obtain consumers' explicit opt-in consent before tracking them online and serving targeted ads.


A Call to Legislate Internet Privacy

I spoke to Mr. Boucher on the day that Google announced its new plan to track data about customers for advertising. And I asked him about such behavioral targeting, which presents an ad based on what you did on other sites.

“That would clearly need an opt in,” he said.

If that’s how a final law is written, it would significantly disrupt a fair number of advertising businesses.


Online Behavioral Targeting Targeted by Feds, Critics

The FTC’s Rich said that the old opt-in versus opt-out battle will become new as the FTC chairman supports opt-in and will be part of a new privacy bill from Rep. Rick Boucher, who heads an influential House Commerce subcommittee.



Infuriatingly disguised as "online privacy advocacy", Boucher is, in reality, a big media hatchet-man, devising the genocide of the Internet culture. Given the rampant abuse of the Government collusion with big telcom to monitor your online activity, you can be certain the Chairman of the "House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet" has no real interest in your privacy, and every interest in keeping campaign contributions flowing, and information contained amongst his friends in big media.

On the surface, the concerns of rhetoric spewing from Boucher's efforts seem plausible, and pander to the "F.U.D." (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) that has been rampant in relation to the Internet and the tracking of we users via cookies. However, Boucher's plan is to require all web sites using "third party ad networks" to actively obtain the consent of each and every visitor, before displaying any ads form such networks. To the average person, this may seem like a drastic but reasonable action to ensure online privacy, in reality, it's a systematic plan of genocide that will destroy independent thought on the Internet.

If those of you who, like myself, dislike online advertising -- or are those who often worry about "tracking cookies" --think I'm exaggerating or spreading my own obfuscation, consider these important points of logic:

(1) For millions of small, but popular web sites, like our beloved ATS, third party ad networks are currently the only viable option to keep revenue flowing, and the site operational and free.

(2) Even for somewhat large opinion-centric web sites such as the Huffington Post, Politico, SlashDot, and others, all of whom reach millions of people every month, third-party ad networks can account for up to two-thirds of all revenue.

(3) Recent estimates from Neilson and other Internet quantification services have been showing a seismic shift in web surfing patterns away from the big media portals and toward the independent sites with alternative views and comments from users.

Boucher is seeking to ensure these sites first ask you for permission before showing you ads, thereby removing nearly all revenue, thereby committing the equivalent of genocide on the culture of free expression on the Internet. As a result, power would be shifted back into the hands of his big media sponsors.



BACKGROUND INFORMATION


After initially learning of this potential legislation, my first reaction was in the realm of what "they" expected -- a well-crafted pleasant response that someone was concerned about the "tracking" of online people. Not long after that, my deep-seated suspicions of any legislation began to kick in, and I looked more closely.

When you start digging into the publicly available information about the "tracking cookies" used by "third party ad networks", you begin to lift the veil of lies being told to you by the government and the big media obfuscators.

Look at the cookies on your hard drives, there is no personal information contained, just numeric identifiers. Boucher would have you believe there is pertinent personal detail contained within.

Research the underlying technology, the small web site is not "sharing" any user or personal data with the third party ad companies -- it is simply not technologically possible.

There have been no stories, anecdotes, lawsuits, or rumors of any actual "tracking cookie" data having been used to actually harm someone, either physically, financially, or emotionally by ad serving companies.

Politicians have no qualms about buying mailing lists that include your mortgage information, your credit card purchase history, your job history, your income history, and more for the purposes of sending you solicitations for donations. The very politicians who hide behind this fraudulent "privacy concern" regularly invade your privacy -- in stunning personal detail -- for the purposes of raising campaign funding.

Big media web sites tend to have their own "ad departments" with several people selling and managing the advertising. They would essentially be exempt from this legislation designed to harm small independent web sites who lack the resources to manage ad relationships with hundreds of advertisers.



SUMMARY


There several reasons to be concerned about the potential abuse of our privacy when using the Internet. After researching this story, I no longer consider the targeted delivery of advertising to be one of them -- and instead, see these ads now as an important "necessary evil" that ensures our Internet remains free, open, and a viable alternative to big media. As a result, I've removed ad-blocking software from all my computers.

Do not be fooled by the lies. This is a conspiracy to remove you and your favorite sites from the equation.

Power to the people, powered by ads (for now).




posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 01:39 PM
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That is a very lucid report, thanks.

But in the end the hobbyists who are online sharing their alternative views and who are truly passionate about their message rather than making money will still prevail regardless of legislation for advertising.

I am not worried at this time, on the contrary, this will weed out the true truthseekers from the profiteers.

Bring it on.

[edit on 17-6-2009 by Truth4hire]



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 01:44 PM
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Better not take down ATS !!!!!!!!!!!! I'll kill em all lol jk ill send afew nasty emails tho



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by Truth4hire
But in the end the hobbyists who are online sharing their alternative views and who are truly passionate about their message rather than making money will still prevail regardless of legislation for advertising.


If that hobbyist develops a particularly poignant message that attracts significant attention (read traffic), how will they pair their increasing hosting bills?

In any event, I'm certain "they" are little worried about hobbyist bloggers. It is the thousands, if not millions, of more popular small web sites (such as this one we currently enjoy) that portray a contrarian viewpoint, but which require supplemental revenue to stay alive.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:00 PM
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The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.


reply to post by Truth4hire
 


Ohh this is ugly. This is truly ugly indeed. I'm all for the Free Market working to weed out whatever needs to be weeded out. This is something very different. This is the heavy hand of an out of control government creating an extremely censorial solution to a problem that doesn't even exist. If this doesn't raise the hackles on the back of the collective neck of our membership, I'm not sure what would.



As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:02 PM
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Originally posted by mister.old.school
If that hobbyist develops a particularly poignant message that attracts significant attention (read traffic), how will they pair their increasing hosting bills?



Depending on the architecture and type of content, a well setup server can handle most traffic and can run on donations only.

If the content is good, so will be the donations. You talking what here, 40-50 bucks a month to maintain a high traffic, low multimedia site? I would pay that if I had an important message. (But would still ask for donations)

I think you over estimate the costs of bandwidth like so many complaining webmasters do to draw pity and encourage clicking on ads. Please visit our sponsors.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:07 PM
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Originally posted by yeahright

reply to post by Truth4hire
 


Ohh this is ugly. This is truly ugly indeed. I'm all for the Free Market working to weed out whatever needs to be weeded out. This is something very different. This is the heavy hand of an out of control government creating an extremely censorial solution to a problem that doesn't even exist. If this doesn't raise the hackles on the back of the collective neck of our membership, I'm not sure what would.


It should raise the hackles... But it looks like it is going to happen anyway. What about NetNeutrality? That should worry you more. (Filtering out traffic that has not been paid for by mogul ISPs). Pay Per Visit (PPV).

And Murdoch saying the Internet as we know it would not last much longer.

Now that runs chills.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:09 PM
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Originally posted by Truth4hire
I think you over estimate the costs of bandwidth like so many complaining webmasters do to draw pity and encourage clicking on ads. Please visit our sponsors.


I have no website.

Apparently you completely miss the obvious effort, by someone in the pocket of big media, to reign in the Internet and shift power back into the hands of big media.

Perhaps the owner(s) of this site might contribute and share information on their costs.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:10 PM
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The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.




Originally posted by Truth4hire
I think you over estimate the costs of bandwidth like so many complaining webmasters do to draw pity and encourage clicking on ads. Please visit our sponsors.



I so wish you hadn't said that.

And actually, it deflects away from the point. Why should a site that has had some success be penalized for that success for no valid reason? I'll rephrase that. There's a valid reason all right, but it has nothing to do with a benefit for the general populace and everything to do with the control of information.



As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:25 PM
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So let me get this right, you are whining because sites might be forced to provide targeted/tracked advertising only when a user has opted in? You think it's perfectly acceptable for users activities online to be tracked by corps like Google and shared between anyone willing to pay for the data, or am I getting the wrong end of the stick here? Making a quick buck is more important than privacy is the tone here, and if that's about accurate then it's the stupidest statement I've read in quite some time.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:29 PM
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Originally posted by quackers
You think it's perfectly acceptable for users activities online to be tracked by corps like Google and shared between anyone willing to pay for the data, or am I getting the wrong end of the stick here?


Unacceptable if that data is associated with your personal information, but it is not. The data is a unique identifier not associated with your identity.

It's the potential legislation that is unacceptable since, as far as I can find, there are no examples of harm or abuse stemming from the activity described by Boucher. But the proposed legislation would harm a vital and important part of the Internet, and benefit big media. Can you not see that?



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:35 PM
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And exactly how harmful is it to require users to tick a box that says "I do not mind my data being shared with 3rd parties". That is something that is agreed on in virtually all other instances in life where you submit any form of data, be it personal or otherwise, why should advertisers/websites not be subject to the same rules? This is not going to stop people from visiting sites like ATS, what it will do is require ATS to to inform users that it may pass their data on to 3rd parties (opt in, dont like it go to another site type of thing). There is no reason why (if it is not already there) it cannot be part of the T&C, or something agreed upon signing up.

[edit on 17-6-2009 by quackers]



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:36 PM
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reply to post by mister.old.school
 


There are a couple of competing forces at work here ...

Internet privacy/anonymity and the afore mentioned freedom of expression.

Surely the former is a legitimate concern, in fact many argue that just like freedom of expression, it is a basic human right.

We here on ATS often fight for both ...

So what do we do when two worthy principles are muddled to serve "their" purposes?

The fact is that there is technology widely available out there such as TOR and other proxy masking systems should one have realistic or perceived privacy concerns or are mindful of Personally identifiable information being used without their consent.

The problem here is that we are dealing with human psychology. What this legislation is playing on is the basic human fear of the unknown. People sit in front of their computers detached from from the technological processes which transpire as the type into their keyboards. They hear nightmarish stories of scams, identity theft, and indeed government eves dropping, and they immediately assume that this has taken place despite them when in fact 99% of the time they are complicit to the problem.

The fact is that we are daily subjected to advertising, be it on television, magazines, billboards, etc, and none of it is subject to an "opt-in" feature.

This isn't good ...

Most folk will fall for this in the hope of protecting themselves from something that either isn't there or they already have the tools to protect themselves.

Thank you m.o.s. for once more cutting through the not so easily identifiable vail, and for bringing this to our attention.

I wonder what SO thinks of this.

[edit on 17 Jun 2009 by schrodingers dog]



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.



Originally posted by quackers
So let me get this right, you are whining because sites might be forced to provide targeted/tracked advertising only when a user has opted in?


I'm not sure who you're addressing, but it's interesting that you'd consider classifying a discussion about some very impactful potential legislation "whining".


Making a quick buck is more important than privacy is the tone here,


That may be what you're inferring, and that means the PTB are doing an excellent job on you in spinning this. That's exactly what they want you to think. The fact is, there are no privacy issues at stake here. Hannibal is at the gates, and I guess he brought cookies.


As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:42 PM
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Originally posted by mister.old.school
Perhaps the owner(s) of this site might contribute and share information on their costs.


We're not going to publicly reveal elements of our operating costs, as doing so would (technically) violate aspects of our Limited Liability Company charter.

However, I can provide some insight.... as, oddly enough, I just posted an announcement about our newest technology upgrade.

We lease our hardware from a provider of managed, enterprise-class servers in Texas... including bandwidth.

The hard drive array in our new database server costs more per-month than the total monthly bill we encountered from our dual-server set-up we used in 2005.

When the upgrade is finished, we'll have farm/cluster of six servers... the per-server management/backup/monitoring costs our support firm charges is more than twice the cost of our first dedicated server.

The monthly bandwidth costs of our global Content Delivery Network (used for images and videos) is more than our total monthly hosting costs from when we were using three servers in 2006.

As you can imagine, our current monthly bill is rather high.


Rumors of this potential legislation has been circling within professional online circles for months. Most see it as a misinformed over-reaction, and all we need to do is properly educate the politicians. As evidenced by the opening post, conspiracy theorists tend to see things differently.

We've had lots of cookie controversies here on ATS... and old.school is correct in his portrayal of the realities of how cookies work... but the media still promotes confusion and misinformation, now we know why.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:44 PM
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It would take something the scale an Internet 9/11 before anyone let the Internet become completely revamped. It would be interesting to see the FEMA camps be used as reeducation camps for "Internet addicts" if the switch happened.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:45 PM
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I don't have a big problem with generic ads placed on most sites (like ATS), becasue I'm aware that they are displayed randomly or based on the category the host site falls into. Even Google ads, which are ubiquitous, are based on the keywords the hosting page utilizes, and not based on any profile accumulated on the visitor.

But this "opt-in" scheme, which would then create a user profile based on your surfing, is clearly not privacy oriented.

It would also force most independent sites like the ones mister.old.school listed to remove their ads, which would be the end of such "independent" media. Big Media can't compete on the grass roots level, even when they charge for a subscription they cant make enough revenue in the face of independent competition. Is this then their plan to choke off the revenue stream from these sites?

And how do the small advertising networks feel about this? 90% of the sites displaying their ads might be forced to drop ads - or force their users to sign up (opt-in) to see ads - and I think we all can imagine how well THAT would go over.

I'll give you my vote on the whole "opt-in" scheme - emphatically NO.

Quit trying to regulate the internet. Websites, independent or part of big media, who provide quality content, should be able to make money from advertising. Those that put up crap content just as a get-rich-quick scheme don't last long. If an advertiser likes a particular web page and wants to advertise there, let them arrive at whatever sort of deal they want to with the web site owner. That's capitalism 101.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by yeahright

I'm not sure who you're addressing, but it's interesting that you'd consider classifying a discussion about some very impactful potential legislation "whining".


That may be what you're inferring, and that means the PTB are doing an excellent job on you in spinning this. That's exactly what they want you to think. The fact is, there are no privacy issues at stake here. Hannibal is at the gates, and I guess he brought cookies.


It is whining, but quite typical. Perhaps you might want to educate yourself on what an "opt in" is. This is just another mountain out of a molehill thread. It's taking something that is quite specifically spelled out then applying the usual delusional logic to turn in into some sort of conspiracy. Hell if sites can't even have the basic decency to ask people if its ok to share their online activities then maybe they shouldn't be allowed to operate. Considering people have been saying for years about how their individual privacy is slowly being eaten away, and here you have a thread attempting to defend just those practices, and then a site mod comes and further defends them, just who's side are you on here?

[edit on 17-6-2009 by quackers]



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:55 PM
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Originally posted by quackers
Perhaps you might want to educate yourself on what an "opt in" is.

You may be well-advised to do the same in this regard.

The legislation Boucher has indicated he favors is a system where web site visitors see no third-party ads until the user opts-in to see the ads. For example as Boucher would have it, when a page first loads, no ads (from third party networks) would be seen, and a small "I want to see ads, but my surfing habits might be tracked" button will be displayed, and no ads will be seen unless the visitor clicks the button.

This is not an opt-in for data-sharing, it's an opt-in to receive banner ads.



posted on Jun, 17 2009 @ 02:56 PM
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Another thing to consider here is the following ...

As the Rupert Murdochs of this world have been recently expressing, there is a major movement within the digital departments of the MSM to start once again charging for content.

Should such a legislation pass, many websites such as the ones mentioned in the OP, will have to start charging for access to their content. This will undoubtably shift power back to the MSM conglomerates as the average user will nor want to dish out for twenty monthly subscriptions when they can can get their pre-packaged and well manipulated news from one source.

On both fronts, this denotes a conscious movement by the power brokers to the information oligarchy of the mid to late 20th century.





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