Privacy as I Say, Not as I Do

Daring Fireball: The New York Times's Hypocrisy on Ad Tracking and Privacy

Here’s the thing. The NYT’s website is loaded with several dozen ad-trackers. I don’t know if any of them collect location data too, but you’d be a fool to bet against that.

This report from The New York Times ought to be eye-opening for tons of people and it does a pretty good job of punching a hole in the “your name isn’t on the data, so it’s anonymous” argument. Actually privatizing data is more complicated than that, and most companies have no interest in doing so.

But like John says, NYT are not at all above the fray on this one. I wish I could say they should pivot to a 100% privacy-focused monetary system, but I honestly don’t know how they do that without going out of business. Ads pay the bills in a way that no subscription service is going to do in the modern world. News is seen as free, and in a way, it totally is. The news is just information, and once a news source like NYT report something, it’s out there for anyone, regardless of whether people subscribed to the service that broke the news.

Getting that news is not free, and you need to pay people to get these stories, and this is the dilemma that news companies have to deal with. They’d love it if you subscribed and paid enough to allow them to keep doing their work, but unfortunately that’s just not going to happen anytime soon for them or any other major news organization.

Update: Thanks to Nick Heer for pointing out that NTY dropped this form of advertising in Europe due to GDPR and they're actually doing better than before. Maybe there is hope after all.

The publisher blocked all open-exchange ad buying on its European pages, followed swiftly by behavioral targeting. Instead, NYT International focused on contextual and geographical targeting for programmatic guaranteed and private marketplace deals and has not seen ad revenues drop as a result, according to Jean-Christophe Demarta, svp for global advertising at New York Times International.

Shutdown

I'm a little worried about people's memories being too short term for it to matter as much as it should, but this shutdown should be gold for anyone running against Trump next year. Here's an example a candidate could make:

"Remember when Trump shut down the government for months, leaving regular folks like you out of work and without a paycheck? He used regular people from both parties as pawns to appease cable news pundits. Working men and women didn’t get paid for over a month because the president wanted to build a wall that he knows doesn’t work, that Republicans know doesn’t work, that the American people didn’t want, and he said Mexico would pay for. He used you. Remember when La Guardia couldn’t let planes take off because TSA agents couldn’t work? Remember when your tax return that you rely on was delayed because the IRS wasn’t properly staffed? We were supposed to be winning so much that we'd be tired of winning. If this is winning, then yes, we’re tired of it, Mr. President.”‬

Beyond the shutdown, the Trump presidency has been a disaster from a policy perspective. He promised so much “on day one” but almost every major legislation he and the Republican party have advanced has failed. The only major win (the tax bill from last year) was opposed by the public, but they passed it anyway. Maybe he's not the "master negotiator" he says he is.

Even if we exclude everything going on with his closest allies quitting or going to prison, the whole Russia thing, the damage to our institutions, the fact casual racism is more acceptable than it was just 2 years ago, and the fact we've been made more divided than in a long time, this presidency has been a disaster.‬

For the Record: Things Donald Trump was Elected to Do

Donald Trump is about to be our 45th President, and I think the American people have made a terrible mistake. As some have said, you can't just stick your head in the sand for 4 years or move to Canada. Nor can you be like the Republicans in 2008 and decide that when the President says "yes" you ay "no." We need to work together to improve the country, even if we don't have the president we deserve.

In the spirit of this, I wanted to compile a short list of the promises Donald Trump has made to his supporters. These are not things that he was elected in spite of, he was elected because he promised to do these things. Trump will be the first to tell you that he's a guy who "tells it like it is" and doesn't blow smoke, so one can only assume he's dead serious about all of these. We'll revisit this as time moves on, and judge Trump on how successful he is at fulfilling these promises.

  1. Build a physical wall between the US and Mexico
  2. Make Mexico pay for that wall
  3. Deport 10+ million illegal immigrants
  4. Kill Common Core
  5. Eliminate net neutrality
  6. Eliminate Department of Education
  7. Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act
  8. Rebuild the nation's infrastructure, by investing $1 trillion
  9. Defund Planned Parenthood
  10. Ban Muslims from entering the United States
  11. Create a database for Muslims living in the US
  12. Assign and special prosecutor and lock up Hillary Clinton
  13. Kill the families of terrorists
  14. Waterboarding and torture are fine methods of interrogation
  15. Make Apple build it's products in the United States
  16. Grow the economy by 6%
  17. Kill the Dodd-Frank Act
  18. Kill the Consumer Protection Act
  19. Eliminate gun-free zones in schools

It's going to be an interesting couple of years.

Why it's Hard to Have Sympathy for Republicans Who Don't Like Trump

NOTE: Please pardon this deviation from tech for one day. I don't like to get too political on this site, but I had to write something about the election. If you were curious, this clip of Chris Cristie spewing trash on a morning show today pushed me over the edge.

There are plenty of Republicans out there today who are begrudgingly voting for Donald J. Trump for president this November. They are not thrilled about him being their nominee, but they simply can't bring themselves to vote for another party. "Well sure, he's overtly racist and is woefully unprepared, but at least there's an (R) next to his name on the ballot."

What a sad position to put yourself in. You are so loyal to your party that you will vote for a sociopathic liar who says something on camera and then calls you a liar for quoting him literally minutes later. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, but no objective observer could say she is less qualified or less prepared to take office and command the position better than Donald Trump. You may disagree with me here, but I'm sorry, you're 100% wrong. A big part of this blog is focused around seeing other points of view (usually revolving around tech, not politics), so it takes a unique situation for me to make a claim that something is 100% black and white.

But the title of this piece is that I don't feel sorry for these distraught conservatives. I don't feel sorry for them because this is the party they have been fostering and encouraging over the past decade. They celebrate people who "say it like it is" even if that's saying things that are horribly racist, homophobic, or misogynist. They celebrate people who are anti-intellectual and take pride in making decisions based on their gut, more than information. They cheer on the 1% of scientists1 who say global warming is a hoax, and dismiss the other 99% as conspirators. More people than you would think still think Obama was born in Kenya and is somehow unqualified to be president.

Those above positions should be at most something held by a fringe third party in the United States, not one of the major parties.

I say all this as someone who used to be a Republican! In the late 90s and early 2000s I identified more with the Republican party than the Democratic party. I was happy that George W. Bush was elected in 2000, and I was actually kind of okay with it in 2004, but since then I have swung far to the left. Part of that was growing up and deviating from the politics of my parents, but a big chunk of it was a general disgust with the Republican party I saw around me. It was a party where faith thumped facts, shouting trumped reasoned debate, fear of the other trumped inclusiveness, and homophobia thumped loving thy neighbor. I was disgusted with the party in the mid-2000s, and it's only gotten worse since then.

So don't tell me that you are a proud Republican but Trump does not speak to your Republican values. He absolutely does. He's the disgusting mouthpiece of your party now, and you only have your own party to blame. You had 17 choices in the primaries, and you chose Donald Trump. You ran governors, well known politicians, and even a Bush, and you decided the best option was this loudmouth racist from New York. Yes, Donald Trump is a terrible candidate for president, but he is the best the Republican party could do in 2016.

What happened to the party of Lincoln? The party of limited federal government? Those are distant memories of a party that doesn't even deserve to be called the "GOP" anymore. Please tell me what's "grand" about the Republican party today. The party has devoted the past 8 years to saying whatever the opposite of Barack Obama says 100% of the time, and embracing fringe groups into their ranks, normalizing terrible groups.

Meanwhile, the last 8 years have seen Barack Obama still be one of the most productive presidents in history, and Republicans just want to blow it all up by electing Donald Trump because he's a "wild card." So don't tell me Donald Trump accidentally got the nomination. It wasn't someone else who cast 14 million votes for him, it's you. You personally may not have, but the party you have hitched your saddle to did, and they did so decisively.


  1. Usually scientists who don't personally study climate, by the way.