Bookmarked Facebook says it may quit Europe over ban on sharing data with US (The Guardian)
Facebook has warned that it may pull out of Europe if the Irish data protection commissioner enforces a ban on sharing data with the US, after a landmark ruling by the European court of justice found in July that there were insufficient safeguards against snooping by US intelligence agencies.

Never issue a threat you’re not really willing to follow up on… FB says it might stop servicing EU citizens because it isn’t allowed to transfer their data to US servers over data protection concerns. To me it would seem good news if the FB data-kraken would withdraw its tentacles. It is also an open admission that they can’t provide their service if it is not tied to adtech and the rage-fed algorithmic timeline built on detailed data collection. Call it, I’d say.

As LinkedIn has sold Slideshare to Scribd (Slideshare’s more evil twin), and the practical handover happening on September 24th, I am preparing to close down my Slideshare account. As part of that I’m downloading my material on Slideshare. The first step is getting a CSV file from them that lists all the download URLs for my slides. It also provides some statistics with those download links, so for archiving purposes I’m adding some of those stats here.

My usage of Slideshare was always intended for two things: 1) have a way to embed my presentations in my blog and for others to view them, 2) have a place that can store those files, 3) allows others to download those files. Those last two reasons were way more of an issue to solve when I started using Slideshare in 2006. Hosting packages back then were generally too small to also host presentations, both in terms of bandwidth and storage. The first reason still is an issue: having a decent viewer to show these files on a website.

My first Slideshare was in December 2006, my last November 2019, so thirteen years exactly. I uploaded 132 presentations so about 10 per year on average, but in reality it was much less spread out:

2006 1
2007 6
2008 13
2009 17
2010 32
2011 24
2012 14
2013 10
2014 6
2015 0
2016 1
2017 1
2018 3
2019 4

The peak years were 2008 through 2013, which coincide with becoming self-employed and doing a lot of awareness raising for open data. From 2014 most of my presentations were for my company, and I posted much less under my own account. (I also will need to download the material from my company’s accounts before the 24th as well).

My 2 most downloaded presentations form an interesting combination:

  • My 2008 presentation at Reboot in Copenhagen (332), that I remember very much (and that I recently converted into Notions)
  • A 2010 presentation on FabLabs (259) that I gave to an engineering company (says the description) for an internal workshop, but I have no immediate recollection of doing that. (Checking my 2010 calendar just now I do remember, seeing the client’s name)

The total views for my 132 presentations were 292708 (2217 on average)
The three most viewed presentations were:

  • My 2010 Lift Marseille, France, talk about FabLabs, 11338 views
  • My 2010 brief remarks on private sector open data during Open Data Week in Nantes, France, 8242 views
  • My talk at PolitCamp Graz, Austria in 2008, the event where I got interested in open data, but this one was about social media use w.r.t. political communication, 8009 views

The three presentations that were mostly viewed in embeds were:

  • My 2010 Lift Marseille, France, talk about FabLabs again, 7157 views in embeds, or about half of total views
  • My 2013 opening keynote for a software company’s European customer event, 3285 embed views
  • My 2012 workshop on open data as policy instrument, at the Dutch national open data conference, 3055 embed views

Given that Slideshare for me was about allowing downloads, and providing embeds, let’s look at those totals. Thirteen years with 132 uploaded presentations come out at 2286 downloads and 51633 embedded views. It’s not nothing obviously, but one can wonder if it is something worthwile enough to allow thirteen years of third party tracking.

Bookmarked Only 9% of visitors give GDPR consent to be tracked (markosaric.com)
Privacy regulations such as the GDPR say that you need to seek permission from your website visitors before tracking them. Most GDPR consent banner implementations are deliberately engineered to be difficult to use and are full of dark patterns that are illegal according to the law..... If you implement a proper GDPR consent banner, a vast majority of visitors will most probably decline to give you consent. 91% to be exact out of 19,000 visitors in my study.

GDPR and adtech tracking cannot be reconciled, a point the bookmark below shows once more: 91% will not provide consent when given a clear unambiguous choice. GDPR enforcement needs a boost. So that adtech may die.

Marko Saric points to various options available to adtech users: targeted ads for consenting visitors only, showing ads just based on the page visited (as he says, “Google made their first billions that way“), use GDPR compliant statistics tools, and switch to more ethical monetisation methods. A likely result of publishers trying to get consent without offering a clear way to not opt-in (it’s not about opting-out, GDPR requires informed and unforced consent through opt-in, no consent is the default and may not impact service), while most websurfers don’t want to share their data, will mean blanket solutions like ad and tracker blocking by browsers as default. As Saric says most advertisers are very aware that visitors don’t want to be tracked, they might just be waiting to be actively stopped by GDPR enforcement and the cash stops coming in (FB e.g. has some $6 billion reasons every single month to continue tracking you).

(ht Peter O’Shaughnessy)

The conclusion of a report by the Norwegian consumer association, Forbrukerrådet, minces no words: adtech is systematically in breach of GDPR rules. The report’s title is Out of Control.

The extent of tracking makes it impossible for us to make informed choices about how our personal data is collected, shared and used, Finn Myrstad, director of digital policy in the Norwegian Consumer Council is quoted. This is a key issue. The GDPR demands meaningful consent, not just the token consent that sites and apps still often try to get away with. Earlier a French ruling stated much the same about a boiler plate consent form advocated by IAB and that form has since disappeared, or at least I don’t encounter it anymore during my web surfing.

It reads as if the report is the basis for various GDPR complaints in multiple EU countries, so it will be interesting to see those progress through the system.

I’m very much in agreement with Doc Searls position that GDPR is lethal to AdTech.
I came across a nice illustration of the effect (ht Tomasino). Below is an image that shows you what happens when you visit USAToday on its GDPR compliant version and its non GDPR version. Paul Calvano who made the image says “The US site is 5.5MB and contains 835 requests loaded from 188 hosts. When loaded from France it’s 297KB, 36 requests and contains no 3rd party content.” The image shows what a striking difference that is:

Read Chrome to limit full ad blocking extensions to enterprise users - 9to5Google
Google shared that Chrome's current ad blocking capabilities for extensions will soon be restricted to enterprise users. SEC filing: "New and existing technologies could affect our ability to customize ads and/or could block ads online, which would harm our business."

Google’s Chrome is not a browser, it’s advertisement delivery software. Adtech after all is where their profit is. This is incompatible with Doc SearlsCastle doctrine of browsers, so Chrome isn’t fit for purpose.

Removing Chrome
image by Matthew Oliphant, license CC BY ND

I mentioned it here six months ago, that US National Public Radio (NPR) provides a GDPR based choice: get tracked or get text.

If you don’t agree to their tracking ….

[We] use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR’s sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR’s traffic. This information is shared with social media services, sponsorship, analytics and other third-party service providers.

…then you have the option to see their content in plain text, which is hosted on a separate subdomain, text.npr.org.

I find I only access NPR now through plain text. The pages are made from straight forward HTML, no loading of any other files or snippets, and are therefore as fast as can be. A breath to read, no distraction etc.

NPR’s plain text news page

NPR plain text article

Only HTML, here NPR’s news page in full. No frills, so very fast

The only downside might be that without imagery, self-starting videos, distracting calls to action and ads, you might notice that a lot of news stories are without much informational content. You can’t blame NPR for that, because news itself as a format has worn a bit thin. GDPR and AdTech (not advertising) are at extreme odds. I like the look of AdTech being stripped away, even if it makes the early 1990’s web fashionably Retro.

I wish more sites would offer the ‘get tracked or get text’ option.