The GDPR might actually create an "attention economy"

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect this month and will completely overturn the way that businesses gather and circulate data about internet users. Read the rest

Adblock will cache popular Javascript libraries, meaning adblocked pages will be faster and less janky

Years ago, big tech companies stumbled on a brilliant scheme for collecting data on web-users: they started providing incredibly useful free Javascript libraries to web publishers: whenever a web publisher embedded one of these libraries, it would serve as a tracking beacon for everyone who visited that publisher's site, all without having to get into the messy business of even serving ads. Read the rest

A comprehensive guide to corporate online surveillance in everyday life

Cracked Labs' massive report on online surveillance by corporations dissects all the different ways in which our digital lives are tracked, from the ad-beacons that follow us around the web to the apps that track our physical locations as we move around the world. Read the rest

Web analytics companies offer "replay sessions" that let corporations watch every click and keystroke for individual users

The "replay sessions" captured by surveillance-oriented "analytics" companies like Fullstory allow their customers -- "Walgreens, Zocdoc, Shopify, CareerBuilder, SeatGeek, Wix.com, Digital Ocean, DonorsChoose.org, and more" -- to watch everything you do when you're on their webpages -- every move of the mouse, every keystroke (even keystrokes you delete before submitting), and more, all attached to your real name, stored indefinitely, and shared widely with many, many "partners." Read the rest

If adblocking is dead, the future is brandblocking--and less appetizing things, too

Facebook is at war with users who block ads, and battle proceeds apace. Just two days after boasting that it could serve ads that were undetectable by adblockers, Facebook got a rude awakening in the form of updates to AdBlock that detected them just fine. But it isn't giving up, and has already adjusted its code to once again circumvent the blocks.

A source close to Facebook tells me that today, possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site’s code that will nullify Adblock Plus’ workaround. Apparently it took two days for Adblock Plus to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it.

Update: A source says Facebook is now rolling out the code update that will disable Adblock Plus’ workaround. It should reach all users soon.]

Still, the cat-and-mouse game is sure to rage on.

AdBlock is at a disadvantage due to Facebook's engineering resources and ability to update its site on-the-fly. That said, Facebook loses more money from each lost ad than AdBlock pays to remove it, which creates an asymmetrical fight. AdBlock is, of course, not a noble venture—it dominates the ad blocking market and whitelists ads from publishers that pay it protection money.

Adblockers generally distinguish ads from content by looking at how web pages are structured and where they come from. To those unfamiliar with HTML, web pages are a nest of boxes, each tagged as a <paragraph or a <division or an <articleor what-have-you, with each identified or classified so that other code can decide what it looks like, where it goes, or what content gets pasted into it as the page renders. Read the rest

48 hours later, Adblock Plus beats Facebook's adblocker-blocker

On August 9, Facebook announced that it had defeated adblockers; on August 11, Adblock Plus announced that it had defeated Facebook. Read the rest

Hacker puppets explain why malware and popups are still a thing online

Gus the hacker puppeteer (previously) writes, "Most of us have a relative whose computer or phone is still a snake's nest of pop-ups and malware. The 'YOUR COMPUTER HAS A VIRUS, CLICK TO SCAN' attack is still a thing, 2016 though it may be. And there are enough people asking 'why do ads pop up (on my iPhone, computer, etc)' for that question to register on Google search autocomplete." Read the rest