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A Quick Plug
In case you missed it, Episode 43: Ad Tracking Runs Deep is now available. Doc and Katherine talked to Dr. Augustine Fou about his privacy analysis app, Page X-Ray, ad tracking, and data privacy.
For more background and a brief guide to Page X-Ray, see our short blog post:
Page X-Ray Data Privacy Analysis Featured in Episode 43
Page X-Ray differs from typical consumer-oriented privacy apps, like The Markup’s recently published Blacklight in that it not only detects trackers that are loaded by the page, but also the trackers that are called by other trackers, giving a more extensive view of tracking activity and data collection.
This depth of analysis provides the striking visual below, taken from a report gathered via smithsonianmag.com.
Figure 1. A complete tree graph of smithsonianmag.com
More on Ad Tech
Episode 43 was all about ad tech, so we’d like to share a few of the privacy tools we use to take back some control over our online lives.
The following are well worth a look if you aren’t already a user:
Blacklight – The Markup — A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector
Privacy Badger — Privacy extension from the EFF.
Ghostery: Online Privacy Made Easy — Ghostery demystifies online privacy by exposing the forces that lurk behind your screen and enabling you to block them.
Secure, Fast & Private Web Browser with Adblocker | Brave Browser — The Brave browser.
In ad fraud news, file the following article under, “Yes, ad tech can be harmful.”
From Forbes.com: Android Users Beware: Delete These 240 Malicious Apps Now
The RAINBOWMIX apps appear at first to be legit, as they work as they are supposed to, although their quality is poor. Many of them are Nintendo (NES) emulators ripped from legitimate sources or low quality games, the researchers said. The ads themselves also appear to be legit—they seem to come from trusted apps and services such as Chrome or YouTube.
This enabled the fraudsters to bypass certain security protocols and fly under the radar, leading to millions of downloads and ad impressionsper day at the peak of the campaign.
Doc Searls on Ad Tech
Doc has written extensively on the subject of ad tech, its impact on journalism and the publishing industry, and its threat to digital privacy and user agency. You’ll find many of his articles under the People vs. Adtech link on his Harvard blog. It’s worth bookmarking for easy reference.
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