Advertising vs privacy

Wow, I knew about the trick of replacing your hosts file on your PC to block out adware/spyware/malware traffic. But last time I installed Windows I never got around to doing it. After I came across this site about blocking parasites from your PC, I got around to doing it.

Yes, it works (you should run the install script as admin and (if you’re on XP) set the DNS service to manual (it’s explained on the page). Not only does it work, but pages load really fast. See also this slashdot question: are ad servers slowing down the Internet?

I actually don’t have a real problem with advertising on the web and I’ve found ad blockers to be more trouble than they’re worth. My beef is with doublecheck and other data aggregators that compile profiles about individuals. I’m also curious about which publications/web applications will be disabled as a result.

Oops, it also blocks webservers you run on your machine.

Annoyingly, it filters out google adsense as well. What a pain. Why do I say this? I’m trying to implement ads on various websites and want to be able to see the ads. Looks like I’m going to have to comment out a few things. I have a feeling it filters out website trackers and other things.

Several other thoughts:

  1. When you block out third party adservers, you are also  blocking out a major source of revenue for independent bloggers. This basically means that sites which contract directly to show ads will be preferred (hello CNN, NYTIMES, etc).
  2. The reason I haven’t bothered with setting a safe hosts file is that I run as a nonadmin on my PC. That pretty much wipes away any chance of getting infected with spyware/malware. (I can download them; I just can’t run anything to hurt my system). Actually, now that I think of it, probably the most serious security risk is when I run as admin to install something. I need to remember to run AVG Antivirus on the .exe file before I install anything

On a related matter, I lost my discount key/card at Kroger (which gives me discounts on groceries). They gave me a form to fill out along with my card, but then I never turned in the form! I’ve been using the card for a few weeks without problems.



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