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TechCrunch Celebrates Freedom From Tracking Software While Using Tracking Software

techcrunch privacy“DuckDuckGo aims to offer up the simplicity and functionality of the big search engines, minus all the creepy tracking stuff. The company outlines everything they do/don’t store right here, but most importantly: it doesn’t use tracking cookies, and it doesn’t save a record of your IP.”

So reads a positive review of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that minimizes Google’s intrusions into users’ privacy. The review was written by Greg Kumparak at TechCrunch.

That same TechCrunch article has 20 different pieces of tracking software embedded in it, including ones from places like Advertising.com, Quigo Adsonar, and Google Analytics and forces TechCrunch readerrs to link to the data-mining giant Facebook in order to comment on articles.

If only TechCrunch practiced what it celebrates in DuckDuckGo.

6 comments to TechCrunch Celebrates Freedom From Tracking Software While Using Tracking Software

  • Bill

    Well, now, there’s ‘tracking software’ and then there’s ‘tracking software.’ In my mind, Google Analytics hardly counts. It’s a useful tool for any webmaster to monitor pageviews, their geographic distributions and times, users’ paths through the site, etc. — all pretty reasonable and non-nefarious. To me, “tracking” implies monitoring an individual across multiple web sites and activities, and GA doesn’t enable that (at least not for its end-users; I can’t speak for Google itself). I also can’t speak to the other 19 ‘trackers’ at TechCrunch.

    In this vein it is probably worth noting that my Ghostery plug-in reports the presence of two pieces of ‘tracking software’ at Irregular Times: SkimLinks and WordPress Stats.

  • J Clifford

    “at least not for its end-users; I can’t speak for Google itself” – That’s the rub, Bill.

    Thank you for using Ghostery, Bill! The way I see it, every additional person who uses it, or similar software, makes the proposition of abusive data mining less economically worthwhile, and stunts the growth of the NSA / Big Data / Singularity / One Mine To Rule Them All mentality.

    WordPress Stats here on Irregular Times are simply a part of the WordPress publishing software that we use to put Irregular Times blog entries online. It doesn’t integrate into any outside systems at all.

    SkimLinks. Oh dear, what is that? The last time I looked at Ghostery for Irregular Times, it wasn’t there, but yes, look, now it is.

    Here’s what Ghostery has to say about SkimLinks:

    ” About SkimLinks:

    In Their Own Words

    “Our ground-breaking technology enables publishers to easily monetize online content in two ways – by converting normal product links into their equivalent affiliate links, and picking up product references in content and turning those into relevant, useful affiliate links too.”

    About Us:
    http://www.skimlinks.com/about

    Website:
    http://www.skimlinks.com/

    We did not put SkimLinks into Irregular Times.

    So, the question is, who did? Also, can we take it out?

    It appears we’ve been hacked in some way.

    How extensive is this scam use of SkimLinks?

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Bill. I’ll dig into this this morning and file a report about it later.

    (I’m also seeing another problematic app on our server: Adknowledge. I’ll take a look into why that’s there and report back on that as well.)

  • Bill

    Yes, I can’t say enough good things about Ghostery. Anyone who carps about tracking should be using it, or else they’re part of the problem.

    I go even further by using different browsers for different types of web activities. So, yes, Google can track my purchasing habits, but it can’t correlate those with, for instance, my political persuasion or my reading habits or my email contacts. I think. Maybe. Plus I reset my IP address every morning by power-cycling my DSL modem.

    And then, of course, just because I’m a cantankerous old fart I always take advantage of every opportunity to provide as much personal information as I can on web sites that ask for it. But, of course, I make it all up. ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ is the most potent weapon opponents of tracking have at their command.

    • Bill

      And regarding the mysterious appearance of SkimLinks and AdKnowledge on your site, I would have to guess that your ISP is monkeying with you. By all means please sue their arses off if they are!

  • J Clifford

    Bill, it’s not the ISP who is monkeying with us, and it’s not a hacker. It’s WordPress. I’ve turned off the offending plugin from the Automattic company (which creates both WordPress software and the offending plugin) though it’s central to much of what we do at Irregular Times. We will seek alternatives. More on this in a bit.

  • J Clifford

    Bill and others, here’s a report about the presence of Adknowledge and SkimLinks software on Irregular Times, and what we’ve done to address the problem: http://irregulartimes.com/2014/05/10/are-automattic-and-wordpress-purposefully-sneaking-skimlinks-trackers-into-jetpack-for-self-hosted-users/

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