On our mailing list, there is a suggestion that we need a browser that kills all the advertising it sees on the Web. Not just the rude kind, or the tracking-based kind. The idea is to waste it all. The business model is, “$10 a month for a browser which guarantees no adverts, ever. If you see an advert, you file a bug report.”
I dismissed the idea a few years ago, when it first came up, for what seemed good and obvious reasons: that lots of advertising is informative and useful, that good and honest (e.g. non-tracking-based) advertising supports most of the world’s journalism, and so on.
But now most advertising on the Web is tracking-based (“programmatic” mostly means tracking-based), and most of the businesses involved seem hellbent on keeping it that way.
As for regulations, the GDPR and CCPA mean well, but they’ve done little to stop tracking, and much to make it worse. Search for gdpr+compliance on Google and right now and see how many results you get. (I get way over a billion.) Nearly all of the finds you’ll see are pitches for ways sites and services can obey the letter of the GDPR while screwing its spirit. In other words, the GDPR and the CCPA have created a giant market for working around them.
Clearly the final market for goods and services on the Net—that’s you and me, ordinary human beings—don’t like being tracked like marked animals, and all the lost privacy that tracking involves. And hell, ad blocking alone was the biggest boycott in world history, way back in 2015. That says plenty.
So why not give our market a way to speak? Why not incentivize publishers to start making money in ways that respect everyone’s privacy?
Comments work on this blog again, so feel free to weigh in.