MediaFile

The tracks of my fears

Advertisers say that if they can’t track you online, your favorite websites will die. They’re wrong.

There is lots of bad TV, and lots of bad Internet. Reducing either would be a public service of incalculable proportions. But just as some broadcasters raise the possibility of Armageddon if ad-avoiding tech like TiVo proliferates, online marketers are now making the same empty threats about the Internet. They say that rich Internet “content” would disappear if something called Do Not Track became the standard.

Do Not Track isn’t the default setting of any major Web browser, even though all offer the option to “opt-in” to a private life — to send a signal to advertisers that, on this occasion, in this window, at this time I don’t want you to make use of my surfing behavior to profile me for the sole purpose of creating ads that marketers think have greater personal appeal and are more valuable.

Opting in is going to be the default in the next version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Internet Explorer Web browser, due out any time now. Many thought Microsoft would be our best hope to change the balance of power (how the tables have turned!), of not having to take extra precautions to prevent an intrusion to which we really should not be subjected. But Microsoft’s bullheadedness (on behalf of users for a change) has prompted the advertising community to decide to ignore Internet Explorer 10’s “do not track” signal. This means, ironically, that IE 10 will be worthless as the pioneering stealth browser it was meant to be.

That the advertisers are pushing back, declaring what amounts to thermonuclear war in the privacy campaign, might raise the profile of a critical issue. Until now it’s been so far under the radar that most people a) don’t know that they have privacy controls on their browsers and b) don’t know they need them.

Google’s unhealthy cookie habit

Google got its hand caught in the cookie jar last week — and this time it really does have some explaining to do.

The search giant, which derives some 97 percent of its revenues from advertising, thought it would be all right to circumvent some protections incorporated into Apple’s Safari browser so that it could better target its ads. By intentionally bypassing the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser — and, as Microsoft has now asserted, Internet Explorer — Google has decided for all of us that our Web activity will be more closely tracked. They opted us in, without asking. And without a way for us to opt out. (We didn’t even know about it until the Wall Street Journal blew the lid off this last Thursday.)

On the merits, this is a pretty big deal. A class action has already been filed, and an FTC probe is almost certain. That the no-tracking settings were circumvented (and secretly) makes it easier to infer that even Google worried it might be touching a third rail. It says it wasn’t, that its intent was only to discern whether Google users were logged into Google services and that the enabling of advertising cookies was inadvertent.

Tech wrap: RIM’s PlayBook for fighting Apple, Google

Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, holds the new Blackberry PlayBook with a screen projection of the device as he speaks at the RIM Blackberry developers conference in San Francisco, California September 27, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithResearch in Motion is a front runner in the race to convert billions of feature phone users into data-wielding smartphone customers but is seen possessing only a small window of opportunity to reinvigorate itself and match the momentum of rival mobile monarchs Apple and Google in a life-or-death battle for relevance, writes Alastair Sharp.

Prices for key technology components such as computer memory and LCD panels rose, as damage at Japanese plants and infrastructure caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami threatened to disrupt the global manufacturing chain longer than expected.

Microsoft introduced its newest browser, Internet Explorer 9, including a do-not-track tool that helps you keep your online habits from being monitored, and is worth checking out, writes Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff.

For Google, less is more versus Microsoft

– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own – 
   
By Eric Auchard 

Sergey Brin eyes fellow Google co-founder Larry Page at launch of Google Chrome in Mountain View California on Sept. 2, 2008.

LONDON, July 8 (Reuters) – Google has entered the very lair of Microsoft by launching its own computer operating software.

Google makes a TV ad

Google built its business on the advertising shift from traditional media, like TV and newspapers, to the Internet.

But as Google strives to jump-start its fledgling Chrome Web browser, the company apparently still sees value in good old-fashioned mediums like broadcast television.

Google said it would begin advertising Chrome on various TV networks beginning this weekend.