Getting serious about privacy

I think we’ve all heard of the stories – I mention that I was looking to buy this or I did a search for that product and then, lo and behold, advertisements for that product appears on your desktop. Coincidence or not, it’s pretty freaky when it happens.

A long time ago, I took action around here to block advertising and third party cookies. When I want to purchase something, I would like to do my own research and come to my own conclusions about products. Plus, I didn’t like all the bandwidth that these advertisements were using. It definitely slowed things down here and my internet access is slow enough to begin with.

If only this setting, which is available on all modern browsers, did the trick.

Basically, websites are on their honour to recognize this and do something about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a banner that told you that they respecting you. Actually, search engines like DuckDuckGo that do respect you make that claim up and front. Thank you for that.

For the others, I guess we’re on our own. Allow it to happen or do something to prevent it like installing an advertising browser blocker.

Fortunately, for us, latest releases of browsers are helping the cause.

Opera has advertising blocking built right in and also offers a free VPN.

Brave also has advertising blocking as a key component. It also has an interesting feature – most modern browsers allow you to open a “Private Window” which has a limited privacy protection. But, Brave also allows you to open a tab using the Tor network. That’s very handy instead of using the Tor Browser.

Chrome is promising a feature that will block what they’re calling “heavy” advertising. Where the advertisement blocking extension fits into this remains to be seen.

This weekend, I’ve been playing around with the latest in Privacy protection from Firefox. It’s labelled as “Enhance Privacy Protection”. Rather than just taking their word that they’re blocking things, a graph, by day, shows what they’re blocking. As I write this, Firefox claims that it has blocked 47 trackers. For the record, it’s 11:15 on Sunday morning. I’ve been on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, my blog, and a couple of newspaper websites. I haven’t even checked my email yet; it’s the weekend…

So, what’s it blocking?

There’s a warning that some sites won’t work with this level of paranoia. That’s always been the concern when you’re using blockers. For those special times when I absolutely need to go to a website, I’ll open it in a Private Window so that it can set all the cookies it wants and they’ll be gone when I close the window.

If you do one bit of learning today, read the corresponding documentation from Mozilla.

Trackers and scripts Firefox blocks in Enhanced Tracking Protection

Just when you think you’ve seen it all

Just flipping through the television directory and I have two new channels.  Normally, this would excite me.  Not today.

I now have two additional channels so that I can watch the Super Bowl with US commercials.


It just serves as a reminder that Super Bowl isn’t about the football – it’s about big business.  Advertising is something like $2.4 or $2.5M for a 30 second spot.  To protect us, the CRTC allows the Canadian broadcast to replace US advertising with Canadian ones.  I doubt that Pizza Pizza would choose to afford the above rates.

So, Frank and Gordon have now provided an alternative.  It’s a shame because they are two of the best spokes people that I’ve enjoyed for a while!  If their commercials are broadcast on CTV, a whole slew of people looking for the next great Apple commercial will miss them.

This year, in particular, it’s probably less of an issue than ever.  You’ve got to believe that the best commercials will be on YouTube 30 seconds after they’re originally broadcast anyway.

I still think that the most ingenious way to advertise is to have your efforts censored and then make them available as a YouTube product instead.  It’s got to be at least $2.4M cheaper.

Amidst all the hub bub of the Patriots* spying on the competition, maybe they’ll do a commercial for camcorders?