Great post by a colleague on benchmarking adblocking engines. The level of optimisations in these engines is incredible! https://whotracks.me/blog/adblockers_performance_study.html
Was excited about this talk almost more than any other at #fosdem.
@ExodusPrivacy@twitter.com is doing amazing work in identifying surveillance patterns in native apps on Android.
And their learnings are set up to be dev-ready, easily used in your own projects.
Donate to support them!
I forgot this convention when I first setup my instances (though I'm also not sure of the reach on a single user instance).
I develop privacy features for Cliqz and Ghostery browser extensions and Apps, and helped to build the whotracks.me transparency tool.
I'm also interested in the p2p web, specifically DAT, where I'm pushing for dat:// protocol support in Firefox via the dat-fox and dat-webext browser extensions!
Over the last couple of weeks we've developed a #WebExtension emulator, which enables the profiling of browser extensions outside of the browser by running them in a node VM. Already we've identified significant performance gains for @cliqz and @ghostery: https://github.com/cliqz-oss/webextension-emulator
2. Platforms tend to craft their APIs to match what they want you to do. Ghostery on Safari and iOS is much more limited in terms of the privacy protections we can deploy because their APIs only allow certain use-cases.
Now Chrome is considering moving to the same model for blocking requests, which would mean much of the tech I develop could no longer run on chrome: https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=896897&desc=2#c23
On why being beholden to a platform sucks:
1. You get blamed when the platform breaks your stuff: A couple of weeks ago Ghostery had a load of angry Chrome users complaining we were triggering the popup blocker for all links. Turns out Chrome pushed out a bug which broke the API we were using. Only once we proved it was their fault did they revert the changes. (See the change once we provide the minimal extension code: https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=918268)
“Demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists,” says Zuboff, “or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the internet is like asking old Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand. It’s like asking a giraffe to shorten its neck, or a cow to give up chewing. These demands are existential threats that violate the basic mechanisms of the entity’s survival.”
The year is 2019 and I can’t buy a good majority of consumer technology because we lack privacy legislation and consumer protections. Example: it’s absurd that my TV came with spyware that can’t be turned off or avoided; I had to stop it from phoning home at the network level. It also came with an arbitration clause and a clause waiving the right to a class action lawsuit.
I've been thinking for a while that a new model of online advertising with fixed, time-limited spots for all users could disrupt existing adtech and bring a better equilibrium with less tracking and bloat. Disappointed to read that someone tried this and failed: https://blog.zgp.org/a-clean-ad-network-for-independent-sites/
Proud to see that projects my colleagues and I have been working on in the last year at @cliqz
have been mentioned in this list of 'Humane Tech': @WhoTracks_me
, Re-consent and Local Sheriff
you might not have known this, but google - the company you use for searching, email, maps, translation, data storage, watching videos, voice assistant tech, backing up your phone, storing photos, finding images, making purchases, making your phone's operating system, advertising, providing webfonts, running website analytics, providing captcha authentication, and browsing the internet - might be tracking you
As technologists I think it's tempting to believe that decentralization can be achieved if we just had the right tech – better interfaces, more options, the right algorithms, whatever. I've been guilty of this myself; Pinafore is my attempt to make Mastodon's UI more accessible. But Doctorow makes a good case that these are just band-aids on what is fundamentally a policy problem. And unfortunately the policy solutions being floated right now would entrench monopolies rather than break them up.