Brave: Because It’s The Best Middle Available

I’m no different than a large portion of web users who are looking to read content and stay safe: I use one or more ad blockers. Is this stealing website content? No. I’d be happy to be served ads is they didn’t have such a bad track record in terms of security and privacy.

Privacy

Many people are still ignorant to what information they are giving up to online advertisers. In a 2013 post by VentureBeat they noted:

Advertisers and the tracking companies they employee are able to gather all sorts of information about you, such as the websites you frequent and what kind of products you’re interested — and even some even scarier stuff like political views, health problems, and personal finances.

Over time the picture you provide to these private companies becomes clearer and clearer. Of course, you may not care if companies know you like chocolate chip cookies but you may not want them to know more personal things or, worse, be able to extrapolate things about you that you haven’t even unknowingly shared … not to mention government use for predictive modeling.

Malvertising

Privacy is important but this is the bigger problem in my opinion. Malvertising has proven a successful vector to infect users machines with malware. If you are interested in a time line of large malvertising events GeoEdge has a nice post. A quick summary of heavy hitters who have inadvertently exposed their readers to threats include The New York Times, eBay, LA Times, Spotify, Answers.com, Huffinton Post, MSN, BBC, AOL and NFL. Of course, there are many more but that list should be enough to get anyone’s attention.

Options

So what are valid options to protect personal privacy and security on the web?

Ignore Internet Content

This is the best option but it’s very unlikely. Everyone loses with this as content providers get nothing from their ads and readers don’t get any news.

Go To “Safe” Sources

Another good option, but about as unlikely as the first. It takes work to find out the sites that are not tracking or injecting third party advertising. It also assumes safe sources are always safe but the web is a constantly evolving place and a site may be totally different upon two visits.

Run an Ad Blocker

This is the most common solution today. It blocks as many ads and third party cookies as it can and generally keeps users safe. It’s not a perfect solution as the content providers miss getting any ad clicks/impressions but the reader gets a much safer (and faster) experience.

Some sites actively block ad blockers. When I come across these sites who nicely ask me to unblock their ads I head over to google and find another source for the same story. I don’t think I’m alone in doing that.

Use (something like) Brave That Shares Ad Revenue

This is a newer thing and the actual reason  I wanted to write this post. Brave seems to be a good middle ground which attempts to keep users safe while still providing money back to content providers. In some ways Brave is acting like a arbitrator to let everyone get something out of the deal. Users get content, creators get money. Yeah Brave (and users) get a cut to but that’s not so bad (though I’d be fine with not getting a cut at all as a user).

Here is the flows for revenue from Brave:

brave_infographic_large

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Unfortunately, the NAA  didn’t quite grasp the above idea and has called to Brave to stop. Surprise, at least one of the companies who signed the letter has put users at risk via malvertising on multiple occasions.

Brave has posted a rebuttal in an attempt to help NAA understand the business model and why it’s not illegal. Hopefully logic will triumph over emotion and posturing.

My Hope

My hope is that users will jump on to the idea that Brave provides (whether they use Brave or not) and that the NAA will understand that it is a business model where everyone wins, even their readers.

Proprietary Content Provider Woes

I am a fan of technology and comics so when Sony started providing comics through their Playstation Store service I decided to give it a go. It wasn’t bad for an early go and I enjoyed the ability to download and read comics on a whim.

Yesterday I received an email from Sony which was blank. Well, actually it was an HTML only email which my mail client did not render (as I block HTML email) including a email opened tracking image (http://links.sony.mkt3395.com/open/log/.*) via MarkMonitor. The email had the subject of “PSP (PlayStation Portable) comic content service closure announcement”. I followed the more information link and read up what the plan was.

Question: Why are you closing the Comic store for PSP?
Answer: We stopped providing new content to the Comic Store last summer to focus on bringing the comic service to other Sony devices. Our focus now is to bring more  digital entertainment services to our products.

Q: What happens in January when the re-download service for Comic Store is no longer available, will I be able to access my previously downloaded comic content?
A: From mid-January you will not be able to access previously downloaded content from the Comic Store however, to avoid losing your downloaded content you can back it up on your PC using the Media Go application

(Source)

My first thought was “Great, all my purchases are now dead.” but I decided to avoid being so negative so quickly and clicked for more information on Media Go. Maybe they have a plan for us consumers.

Plans?

Media Go can backup the comics that one purchased but it requires either Windows and/or Sony devices. That puts me totally out of luck. My understanding is that the format of the comics are proprietary so I’d probably be out of luck even if I could back them up without purchasing something to run Sony’s proprietary software. My saving grace is that I didn’t spend a ton of money on getting comics from Sony else I’d be really upset.

What Would Have Been Better

Sony’s focusing on ‘providing content’ to their other devices. That’s all well and good but I own one of their devices and the comics were some of the content. A better solution for customers would have been to make a deal with another provider of digital comics to allow for continued access to already purchased content. Even if it is proprietary to proprietary (like ComiXology) it would still be continued easy access.

Sony Says Thank You

“We apologise to fans for the change and thank you for your support of the Comic Store for PSP,” said SCEE’s Mayumi Donovan.

(Source)

I guess some companies are not ready to provide content. I hope they learn from this mistake as I have. In the future I’ll be much more cautions on who I allow be a paid content provider by looking at how they handled the end of previous content distribution.