p2pnet view P2P | Advertising | Freedom | Security:- A recent post by surfer, ”Ensuring Online Privacy“, generated some comments that expressed some concern over connections emanating from this site. It has been suggested that p2pnet may be running or facilitating a few datamining trackers.
Evidence of the offending activity seems to be based solely from reports acquired from the Firefox plug-in, NoScript, involving Quantcast and Google trackers.
Here’s the bald-faced truth on the subject, whether anyone chooses to accept it or not…
Before I go any further, I cannot comment on whether or not Jon is aware of this activity, or whether or not it’s even an actual threat. For all we know, Jon has full knowledge and has disabled the service’s ability to ultimately claim the results, which would be a perfectly acceptable remedy in my eyes.
It would seem Quantserve may be a “compulsory” feature when using WordPress to host your site. Can the site owner choose to disallow it, without any “repercussions”? I don’t know the answer to that (yet). Is it something I want to bother Jon about at this point in time, while he’s struggling with his recovery? Certainly not!
The best recommendation I can make at this time would be for the users to simply block Quantserve and Quantcast from their machines. The fact that they feel the need to embed it in WordPress itself seems to warrant that thinking.
NOTE: If you have quantcast.com and quantserve.com blocked by NoScript, the cookies still get planted on your computer, if you haven’t already instructed your browser to block them as well. If you haven’t already done this, and you wish to shut out Quantserve, I would recommend you refer to the appropriate instructions for your browser.
While dataminers like Quantcast are certainly a great concern, they certainly don’t compare to Google. Google is, without a doubt, becoming the biggest threat to worldwide network security, and the privacy of every concerned internet user.
They have created a barrage of “services” (most of them “free”) that definitely have a lot of positive potential, yet have demonstrated over and over again how psychopathic they are with our personal information. Google repeately claims to have no evil intentions, yet they’re never very clear with what info they’re gathering, what need there would be for it, and often deny they’re even gathering it at all. They never directly offer you a way to control or consent to any of this from your end.
Google has no interest in what anyone but Google wants. When confronted with privacy concerns, they claim to be a ”do no evil” company, and that “your privacy is very important” to them, everything worded in true Corporate Speak. Google arbitrarily decides what we supposedly should be okay with, and arbitrarily shuns any other arguments as “inapplicable” or “misinformed”, or simply “nonsense”. Those qualities are true psychopathic qualities.
Google has often been referred to as an “octopus” on steroids. Its tentacles seem to reach every crevice of the World Wide Web in its quest to stay locked on to everyone’s online activities. Despite thousands of major requests from individuals, groups, and companies to respect private networks (and street properties alike), they continue to plant cookies that keep reporting back directly from the subject computers, and logging the whole thing.
There’s a shitload of Google activites I could go into great detail with, but it’s time to give you the point to all that preamble…
When a user’s computer has any of these cookies installed, it doesn’t matter if a website participates in Google Analytics or if it even has any Google Ads, the tracking script kicks in, and that computer’s activities are logged. Without the site’s blessing and without user consent.
This also can create an illusion that the site in question is doing the tracking for Google. That would seem to be the biggest conundrum reflected in the discussion on this subject.
I’ll now repeat what I said in a few comments: p2pnet does not employ a Google tracker, does not facilitate Google Analytics (google-analytics.com), and does not subscribe to Google Ads. One look at any p2pnet page should tell you that. The same handful of static advertisers has always been all you’ve ever seen. If a Google Analytics tracker is trying to connect with you, it’s because you already have at least one cookie on your machine that’s trying to phone home.
You also have to remember that these cookies are often dished out in multiple formats, some of which are designed with backup mechanisms that rewrite them upon deletion, and even rewrite the others as well. (Do no evil, eh?! )
As you should know, I don’t have any stake in this site. I’m just a reader and contributor to p2pnet myself, and I also have to connect the same way everyone does. When it comes to this particular issue, what may set me apart from some of you could simply be that I barred Google from my computer, in multiple ways, ages ago.
Surfer made a really constructive statement in “Ensuring Online Privacy“:
“If you do nothing more than just put www.google-analytics.com in your firewall, you are doing yourself a great service. This particular domain name keeps track of what sites you visit so that google ads can be more precisely targeted. Many domains out there use APIs from Google that are intrusive and violate your privacy by not only tracking hits to a particular website, but sends additional data back to Google themselves for their own nefarious uses.”
I can attest to that.
I not only banned Analytics a long time ago, but I also don’t accept AdSense or Buzz, and don’t use Google DNS or any other “services” that would give Google any excuse for “implied consent”.
When the issues of Quantserve and Analytics came up, I fired up 3 different browsers (Firefox with NoScript was, of course, one of them), and brought up my firewall monitor, my peerblocker, and a few other utilities, while going to a few sites, and calling up p2pnet. First I tried it without clearing any caches, and then repeating the whole thing after clearing different ones, eventually all of them. I also tried going to p2pnet only, after clearing caches, and looking at the results. The results were the same every time, with one exception, which I’ll talk about after the results…
Google Analytics, as well as Quantserve and Quantcast, only showed up at the firewall level, and were unsuccessful, as their packets were tossed away. There were also no cookies installed by any of them, and p2pnet’s cookie remained unaltered, containing only the login info it’s supposed to. And here’s the clincher: p2pnet’s IP address was only attached to Quantserve, along with another WordPress IP. The IP addresses reported for Analytics had no relation to p2pnet or WordPress.
As I said, there was one exceptional result I promised to relate. When I cleared all caches and went straight to p2pnet, there were no Google entries at all. Not even at the firewall. That’s because Analytics doesn’t emanate from p2pnet, and because I didn’t pick up the cookies from anywhere else that Google needs me to have to track me TO p2pnet.
Devil’s Advocate – p2pnet
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian & military participation ~ Marshall McLuhan
Net access blocked by government restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.