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New Survey: Online Privacy, Internet Advertising and The Independent Web

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posted on May, 13 2011 @ 03:46 PM
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We're running a new and very important survey on AboveTopSecret.com, this time it relates to Internet privacy and online advertising. There's been a great deal of press coverage regarding online advertising, cookies, tracking, and upcoming privacy and "do not track" legislation that may seem well-intended, but is misinformed and backed by representatives with ulterior motives because of their corporate contributors.

Survey: Internet Advertising and the Independent Web

While there is indeed several valid reasons to be concerned about the rise of "tacking" by online advertisers and web analytics firms, a great deal of the rhetoric is fueled by corporate interests and big media. The same corporate interests who will directly benefit by the demolition of the "independent web" -- those small and mid-sized websites that provide a diversity of thought that challenges the mainstream.

The current form of the proposed "do not track" legislation and similar draft bills circulating through Washington has the very real potential to decimate the ability for independent websites to survive by severely limiting their ability to derive revenue from advertising.

Independent websites generally have no ad sales force, and no ability to serve their own ads. The overwhelming majority rely on third party ad networks to realize the revenue needed to remain operational. By removing the ability for advertising networks to know how their ads are being delivered and to whom, the effectiveness and earning potential of such ads will be decimated. However, major media websites will be unaffected as they typically have their own sales force and ad delivery technologies.

Myself and Mark Allin (Springer) are headed to Washington, DC, along with several dozen other operators of independent websites, to lobby elected representatives on behalf of the independent web. We will be armed with your answers to this survey, in effect showing those elected officials the actual opinions of Internet users who care about their favorite websites.

Make no mistake that we're not invested in the status-quo or that we want to see everything remain as it is. We believe Internet users must feel comfortable that their privacy is secure. However, the current form and influences behind the proposed legislation is not in the best interest of society and the Internet as a whole.

And before you think that there are plenty of important and influential websites that do not accept advertising and get by on user donations, this will effect them as well. Such sites are able to survive based on the relatively inexpensive hosting services built on the back of the massive Internet economy fueled by online advertising. If that massive economic ecosystem were to crumble, even those websites will be directly effected.

Survey: Internet Advertising and the Independent Web


NOTE: For this survey, the code has been modified slightly to (hopefully) correct some of the previous issues encountered by members, and to allow you to complete the survey in multiple sessions. This will allow you to leave the survey, research your answers, then return to continue: if you feel the need to do so.

SECOND NOTE: We (AboveTopSecret.com) have achieved a size, scale, and reach that will allow us to survive even in a worst-case scenario. But we are passionate believers in the independent web and are investing our time, expertise, and resources in defending the most important asset society has at this point -- diversity of opinion.




posted on May, 13 2011 @ 03:58 PM
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This looks to be a troubling issue for ATS among other sites.

I hope for the best, I would not subscribe to ANY pay website, no matter how good or how much I love it!



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 03:59 PM
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Wow.

The last two were fairly predictable, but I'm actually curious as to how this one will come out.

Obviously everyone on ATS is at least a casual internet user, so this sort of thing affects all of us in one way or another.

Looking forward to taking the survey. Keep 'em coming.


EDIT: I just want to add that advertisements, while annoying, are a large part of why independent websites are even allowed to exist. Without the freedom of advertising, the internet would have a very different (and very corporate) face.
edit on 13-5-2011 by drwizardphd because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:02 PM
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no offense to ats and the site owner

but i was let down when ats switched to advertising i consider them to be distractions and eat up bandwidth.

however i do realize the need its costs money to provide ats and i would rather deal than ats start charging subscription fees.

now im off to go take the survey.
edit on 13-5-2011 by neo96 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:05 PM
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Hmm I had no idea about this. While I don't particularly like online advertising people need revenue and there are ways of removing it. Although it can be used as a gateway by malicious sources into your machine (Although that isnt the fault of the sites using 3rd party advertisement, its the 3rd party source that needs to vet its adverts better)

Tracking Cookies I dont much like but again I can dump those and since i run in a sandboxed browser Im pretty safe from anything I dont want.

I guess you could say im on the fence... although the new legislation doesnt sound healthy at all...



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:11 PM
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Im just not convinced "the way we do it now is the only way it can be done." In other words, advertising on websites evolved to take advantage of the laws at the time. If we change the laws to prevent tracking, Im not convinced this will result in a doomsday scenario.

I have confidence that advertisers will figure out another way to make money and spread their messages that do not require my activities on the web to be tracked. I dont like advertising that targets me personally. I find it offensive, not helpful. I know how to work a search engine if I want to find something to buy.

I could of course be wrong, and this could really be DOOM for all small to midsized independent websites, but I havent seen good solid argument for that yet.

I work for free on ATS. Im not convinced even if there were NO way to profit from ads on the internet this would spell doom for websites everywhere. Open source, writers like us, tons of people contribute content without pay, and maybe it would be better quality in some cases if profit were not a driver. Popular does equal profitable. But it doesnt equal quality.

Not that I dont have empathy for ATS' stand on this, or for the owners desire to keep making money. I do. Im just not convinced that sacrificing privacy for entertainment is our best course of action.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:14 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 
I got to the second page of the survey and took exception to the phrasing of the questions. Where's the neutrality when loaded words like 'severely' frame the questions?

I'm an internet nobody questioning the neutrality. The guys who make a living from interpreting the credibility of surveys will be quick to dismiss it as too leading and having a predetermined skew in the results.

Like most ATSers, I agree with the point you're making, but suggest you present an objective survey that trusts the the input of responders without being tempted to lead them.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:21 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
If we change the laws to prevent tracking, Im not convinced this will result in a doomsday scenario.

First, you need to be aware that the "tracking" does not identify you or your entire web browsing activity -- that is misinformation perpetuated by big media.

Second... consider this relatively similar scenario -- A television station is (because of legislation) unable to determine which ads play at which time... leaving the entire delivery of commercials to random chance and unable to ensure the Coke commercial plays as expected during American Idol... or unable to ensure that four consecutive commercials for diapers doesn't play during a commercial break for The Office. That scenario would be very similar to what the total removal of all tracking would cause online. The result would be ineffective and non-targeted ads, which would pay pennies-on-the-dollar as compared to current online advertising.




Im just not convinced that sacrificing privacy for entertainment is our best course of action.

We're working with the Interactive Advertising Bureau on an alternative proposal that preserves the ability of ad networks to provide targeted advertising, while protecting users from excessive "tracking." And it's mind-bogglingly simple:

1) Make it a serious offense to cross-reference personal data with cookie information without the express consent of the user

2) Force all browsers to automatically expire third party cookies within 48 hours, plenty of time for effective targeting without the concern for long-term tracking

Simple.
edit on 13-5-2011 by SkepticOverlord because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:26 PM
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Very good questions.
Was a pleasure to answer that lot..

One slight problem that you might need to know about..

I clicked the link to the poll via the top of the ATS site.. completed the poll...
Then I visited my U2U inbox to get the link to this thread but accidentaly clicked the link for the poll..
This took me to the poll itself and I was able to input my answers again.. I didn't though.. don't want to upset the cart..

From doing previous polls, I've not been able to visit the poll question section twice.. this time I have..



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:30 PM
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reply to post by Extralien
 


As mentioned in the opening post, we refined the code to hopefully correct previous problems. Also, this poll allows you to return and refine your answers in the event you researched any of the issues and changed your mind.


Also...

For the record, after 150 responses so far, only a very-small percentage has entered "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree" for the last question.
edit on 13-5-2011 by SkepticOverlord because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:30 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


If the the industry did come up with ways to protect the public from things they dont want, while maintaining the things that allowed smooth functioning of the system, fine and dandy by me.

Up till now, the only real response from cookie makers is a version of "screw you, you are all idiots who dont understand, and we are doing it anyway."

Not surprisingly, this has led to people complaining enough that someone, rightly or wrongly, decided to take action.

I myself am already so annoyed at the whole way internet advertising has been handled, and the utter disregard for our concerns, complaints, etc., (and this is not addressed to you or ATS personally) that I could care less if the whole industry comes crashing down.

People have been making uncomfortable noises for years, and the only concern I have seen at all from the industry is when their big money making toy might get banned. They didnt care what we wanted, why should we care what they want? Its not like anyone who deals with internet advertising should be surprised, people have been complaining for years about abusive ads, cookies, redirect ads, advertising practices, pop ups, etc.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:36 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


My apologies...

I posted quickly in order to make someone aware of what I'd observed, so hadn't read the opening post... but you've replied whilst i was reading through the thread


Thanks for your understanding



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:36 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Up till now, the only real response from cookie makers is a version of "screw you, you are all idiots who dont understand, and we are doing it anyway."

Well... that statement is partially true. Much of the "press" and especially the "virus alerts" regarding cookies have been just plane wrong.



I myself am already so annoyed at the whole way internet advertising has been handled, and the utter disregard for our concerns, complaints, etc., (and this is not addressed to you or ATS personally) that I could care less if the whole industry comes crashing down.

And the economic impact would be incredibly severe.

Some of the recent studies I've seen associate nearly 8 million salaried jobs that are directly related to the online publishing economy -- ranging from the publishers to server-jockeys that keep the sites running. Some of the same studies associate another 17 million people (in the US) who either derive some income from the online economy, or their jobs indirectly relate to the online economy (broader scale online economy, not just publishing).

It's a massive interconnected economy that would take a serious hit if the wrong legislation goes into effect.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:42 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


I've completed it already and i have to agree with the poster above that advertising should be the individuals choice as to whether they want it while browsing the net!!

I have thought about this plenty of times and one of the reasons i stopped watching TV is because of the commercials.... they do my head in and i mean there's some type of programming going on there.... put all these ads up, make em flash and look pretty.... people will get hypnotised into thinking they need the product and go out looking for it etc.... they also slow the whole internet browsing experience down on some sites where the pages just won't load or they get stuck for a certain amount of time

edit on 13-5-2011 by TruthxIsxInxThexMist because: (no reason given)
edit on 13-5-2011 by TruthxIsxInxThexMist because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:52 PM
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Originally posted by neo96
no offense to ats and the site owner

but i was let down when ats switched to advertising i consider them to be distractions and eat up bandwidth.

however i do realize the need its costs money to provide ats and i would rather deal than ats start charging subscription fees.

now im off to go take the survey.
edit on 13-5-2011 by neo96 because: (no reason given)


I had no idea that ats had advertising. I don't see it.

This survey seemed completely biased. It was definitely anti-legilsation.
edit on 13-5-2011 by Rhino5 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:54 PM
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Originally posted by SkepticOverlord


It's a massive interconnected economy that would take a serious hit if the wrong legislation goes into effect.


That would be bad. I guess it would be time for a more mutually respectful relationship to develop so that both sides can have their needs met. I think a lot of that burden is going to fall upon the side of the cookie people. Human beings in general will tolerate a lot, and in terms of advertising and marketing we HAVE tolerated a lot. More than we should have to in many cases, like redirect ads, or those that lock you in place and will not let you leave the site. The industry itself should do more to protect its reputation, and take it upon itself to police itself. Who would know better how to write rules that would correct the issues people have, while still allowing them to milk their cash cow.

Again, as I see it, there has been nothing but utter arrogance and disregard for us up until now from the whole industry. Now they suddenly care, when they stand to lose money. That concern for the feelings of the people they were profiting off of should have been there all along, and the relationship should have been less like a rape and more like consensual sex.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 04:56 PM
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Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
reply to post by Extralien
 


As mentioned in the opening post, we refined the code to hopefully correct previous problems. Also, this poll allows you to return and refine your answers in the event you researched any of the issues and changed your mind.


Also...

For the record, after 150 responses so far, only a very-small percentage has entered "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree" for the last question.
edit on 13-5-2011 by SkepticOverlord because: (no reason given)

I did not know i could do that. Good idea. I was pretty ignorant on what exactly a cookie tracks and thought that it tracked everything i do online. Even though i feel relieved and more supportive of "tracking" cookies as i recognize now they are the way sites i love stay afloat. But one thing im still confused about is question 6 (i think).


I have been aware that the "tracking" described above does not identify me as a person, but assigns a alphanumeric code to my computer.

Is that code not a way to identify me? Like a laptop i only use at home.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 05:11 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


SkepticOverloard,

Good luck to you and Springer on your trip to D.C.

We'll all have our fingers crossed.



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 05:15 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


As for tracking cookies, what goes around comes around. Someone sends me a cookie, I send them one back. I was taught to share...



posted on May, 13 2011 @ 05:29 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Again, as I see it, there has been nothing but utter arrogance and disregard for us up until now from the whole industry.

You do realize there's nothing inherently wrong with a "cookie," correct? It's merely a text file and has been a core component of web browsers since Netscape version 0.9b.





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