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Old 19 Nov 2013, 02:52 AM   #1
Jacinto
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Why is EMD tracking us

I just opened this forum with a different instance of Firefox protected with "DoNotTrackMe" and was surprised to discover that EMD is tracking us with Google Adsense and Google Analytics.

After all the discussions on this forum about web mail implementations that track their users and consensus among posters that tracking is a very bad practice that invades our privacy, I'm at a loss to understand how the very forum where this discussions are taking place tracks its posters.

I understand that web hosting and bandwith cost money and that we are getting a free ride. However, I was not aware until today that tracking was part of the free ride.

Although I'm against unsolicited advertising and although, as a free user I probably don't have a right to do so, I do not object to the new ads if they'll help this forum survive, but I do object to being tracked by EMD.

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Old 19 Nov 2013, 03:12 AM   #2
William9
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What kind of data does EMD collect from us? Are there levels of personal information tracked with Google Adsense and Google Analytics?
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 03:22 AM   #3
Jacinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William9 View Post
What kind of data does EMD collect from us? Are there levels of personal information tracked with Google Adsense and Google Analytics?
Although I would not rely on Wikipedia if life or limb were at stake, these articles give a general explanation of what they are:

HTML Code:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdSense
HTML Code:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Analytics
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 05:13 AM   #4
popowich
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The data in Google Analytics does not personally identify you.

Google AdSense uses cookies as part of how they market to you.

Part of the wording Google requires site operators to include in their privacy policies includes:
  • Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on your site.
  • Google's use of the DART cookie enables it and its partners to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and/or other sites on the Internet.
  • Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 05:40 AM   #5
Jacinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popowich View Post
The data in Google Analytics does not personally identify you.
That may be so, but it knows where you are connecting from, what websites you visited, which products you looked at, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by popowich View Post
Part of the wording Google requires site operators to include in their privacy policies includes:
  • Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on your site.
  • Google's use of the DART cookie enables it and its partners to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and/or other sites on the Internet.
  • Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.
I did not see any such wording anywhere on this site nor a privacy policy.

The issue is that, as I said earlier, the consensus of posters on this forum do not wish to be tracked, yet, this forum has started tracking its users, as far as I can tell, without notice of the same (or an opportunity to decline being tracked).

Personally, I cannot be tracked because I've installed the "DoNotTrackMe" extension on all instances of Firefox (except the one I'm writing from now) and will take care of this instance presently.

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Old 19 Nov 2013, 05:50 AM   #6
popowich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacinto View Post
I did not see any such wording anywhere on this site nor a privacy policy.
There is a link to the EMD privacy policy in the site footer. Look down
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 05:53 AM   #7
communicant
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On November 13, I posted in the 'About this Site' forum, in the 'ads on the forum' thread. The posts were numbers 9 & 12. I don't want to cross-post, but here is a digest of those posts:

-------------------------------------------------------------------
coincidence or tracking?

I sometimes check the site and take a look around without logging in, unless I intend to write a post. That is what I did this morning, and among other threads I read the one concerning fax-to-email. When I returned to the home page, I noticed that the banner ad (which was still visible to me because I had not yet logged in) had changed to an ad for eFax, right after I had been reading the email-to-fax thread. Was that just an odd coincidence, or are visitors tracked around the site and presented with targeted ads, depending on what threads they read?

...[tracking] is rather unsettling and quite a departure from what we have grown used to at EMD.

Especially for those who never log out (as some have indicated), this would also raise the question of what becomes of the tracking cookies, and whether their placement would add to the ability of data miners to track someone around the web after leaving EMD.

And (...assuming for the sake of discussion that tracking at EMD now exists in conjunction with the ads...), is the information gathered at EMD by advertisers added to whatever sort of profile the data miners create for each of us and are always trying to augment? Interest in on-line faxing is neutral enough, and it may indeed 'make sense' to target ads for eFax to those who have just read a thread about email faxing, but it is a bit unsettling to contemplate the possibility of one's overall EMD habits being sifted through for other possible interests and concerns.

Another practical query would concern the effect [on tracking] of logging in. Since ads are not visible to members who have logged in, would it be logical to assume that advertisers would therefore lack any motivation to track a member around the site, since targeted ads would not be seen? Or perhaps the tracking is still performed anyway, since data miners are not known for either logic or restraint.

I hope Edwin will clarify the matter soon, and I hope the entire concern is moot and that the eFax ad was simply a coincidence.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Edwin never replied to those posts. I hope he will do so now, and to this thread in general.

Ever since the arrival of ads on the site (and the attendant tracking that those ads seem to entail), I have felt less at home here and less at ease. Do any others feel the same?

I don't question Edwin's decision to raise revenue and do what he consider best for the site, but I believe these are troubling questions that deserve answers.
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 05:58 AM   #8
popowich
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Quote:
I noticed that the banner ad (which was still visible to me because I had not yet logged in) had changed to an ad for eFax, right after I had been reading the email-to-fax thread. Was that just an odd coincidence, or are visitors tracked around the site and presented with targeted ads, depending on what threads they read?
For that one I'd say it's a coincidence. Google AdSense tries to match the ads to the content of pages. The ad is relevant to the site. I highly doubt it was triggered by your specific viewing of a previous thread. Facebook, Amazon, Home Depot all seem to be in cahoots doing that, but not AdSense as far as I know.
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 06:49 PM   #9
Jacinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popowich View Post
There is a link to the EMD privacy policy in the site footer. Look down
Looking down strains my neck.

Read it, thanks popowich.

Noticed that where it says:

"If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here."

there is, in fact, nothing to click.

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Old 19 Nov 2013, 07:07 PM   #10
Jacinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by communicant View Post
...[tracking] is rather unsettling and quite a departure from what we have grown used to at EMD.

. . .

Ever since the arrival of ads on the site (and the attendant tracking that those ads seem to entail), I have felt less at home here and less at ease. Do any others feel the same?

I don't question Edwin's decision to raise revenue and do what he consider best for the site, but I believe these are troubling questions that deserve answers.
Good day communicant.

Missed your thread, sorry.

The new ads are also unsettling to me and I, too, feel less at ease now.

I said when I started this thread "I understand that web hosting and bandwith cost money and that we are getting a free ride." Now that I understand how Google AdSense and Analytics work, I'm not so sure that EMD's free ride is really worth it for someone who values her or his privacy.

My suggestion for anyone who feels the same way is to add the free "DoNotTrackMe" extension to his or her browser of choice and continue to enjoy the forum without being tracked.

HTML Code:
https://www.abine.com/dntdetail.php
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 09:15 PM   #11
FredOnline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacinto View Post
The new ads are also unsettling to me and I, too, feel less at ease now.
Are you truly, TRULY, unsettled and less at ease - just now - because of your recent discovery?

In which case you probably shouldn't visiting/posting here at the forum at all.

Or most probably anywhere else, for that matter.
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 10:35 PM   #12
zdt
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Oh no!

Maybe I am not entitled to post here as I am a relatively new member but the topic is of the ones that I care about. One of the reasons for me to sign up here was the friendly atmosphere (the other one would be the really useful amount of information and the knowledge members here are putting into the discussions).

Friendly atmosphere is not easy to keep for ever (I know that for sure) but google analytics is a killer. There are really few sites on the internet with pure (as in 100%) "we don't want anything in return" attitude.

PS
Just some food for thought as even the big companies of the web try to build a more caring image:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/0...h-do-not-track
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/0...ments-and-more
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 10:43 PM   #13
janusz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zdt View Post
Friendly atmosphere is not easy to keep for ever (I know that for sure) but google analytics is a killer.
I see no contradiction between friendliness and Google Analytics.
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Old 19 Nov 2013, 11:29 PM   #14
Jacinto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredOnline View Post
Are you truly, TRULY, unsettled and less at ease - just now - because of your recent discovery?

In which case you probably shouldn't visiting/posting here at the forum at all.

Or most probably anywhere else, for that matter.
I detect a bit of sarcasm and condescension in your comments.

Sarcasm I don't mind. Condescension I object to in general and in a friendly forum like this one in particular .

Let's keep it friendly and welcoming for every one (while still getting our points across).

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Old 20 Nov 2013, 01:20 AM   #15
Havokmon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popowich View Post
For that one I'd say it's a coincidence. Google AdSense tries to match the ads to the content of pages. The ad is relevant to the site. I highly doubt it was triggered by your specific viewing of a previous thread. Facebook, Amazon, Home Depot all seem to be in cahoots doing that, but not AdSense as far as I know.
I disagree. I believe AdSense matches the ad content to your personal history. I run no blockers, and if I happen to hit upon a relevant keyword in either a search or on a page, AdSense will display similar/relevant ads on all sites. that I visit that use AdSense.

That's the point of their 'tracking'. I can't decide if it's good or bad. On one hand, you won't be seeing Viagra ads unless you've been looking for Viagra, on the other hand Google will 'know' you've been looking for Viagra...

Trying to move to a non-Google ad system is risky at best. For a place like EMD, where there isn't any obvious upgrade requirement or place to donate, I would consider it a necessary evil.
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