Ad Hominem #4

It'll get worse before it gets better...

Welcome back to Ad Hominem, a newsletter about the changing nature of AdTech, surveillance capitalism, and the privacy issues that face every individual in the modern marketplace. If you’ve been forwarded this email from a friend, you can read other issues and sign up here.


The world keeps changing and there’s more evidence mounting every day that advertising is making us all deeply unhappy and in many cases, flat-out breaking the law. This newsletter exists to call attention to the problem, discuss solutions, and help encourage us all to engage actively and dynamically with issues of privacy in the modern world.


A new report from the Norwegian Consumer Council that finds that dating and healthcare apps are among the worst offenders for leaking our data to advertisers and others willing to pay for it. Here’s a more detailed piece on Grindr specifically. New cars aren’t great for data privacy either. And for the finishing blow, the data of 56M people was discovered being hosted on an unprotected Chinese IP address.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that all our digital data is being collected, the US Government is now also collecting the DNA information of migrants at the southern border. Worse still, all that data is going into a giant database that some say could generate bias by over-representing people of color.

People are waking up to privacy (probably why you’re reading this newsletter) and the ad companies are taking note of the zeitgeist shift. Google has announced a plan to phase out 3rd-party cookies within two years as a step in a new direction for an ad-supported web. Speaking of ads, has your ad-blocker been letting you down lately? That’s because of secret deals they strike with advertisers to let some ads through. Senator Ron Wyden is investigating.


Small Bites of News:


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— Sam