The price we pay for a free web

“The business model of the internet is surveillance. We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing.”

This is a quote from security guru Bruce Schneider in a column by John Naughton in today’s “Observer” newspaper. It is the explanation of how web services can be ‘free’ and the price we pay in terms of loss of privacy. How worried should we be? A dystopian view of where we might be heading is envisioned in the novel “The Circle” by Dave Eggers which I have reviewed here.

Naughton’s column includes a ‘confession’ from Ethan Zuckerman for the creation of what he calls¬†“the internet’s original sin”, that is targeted advertising which Zuckerman introduced via the pop-up ad on his Tripod-hosted ¬†web sites. This took me back: in 1999, I started my web site on Tripod and suffered those pop-up ads before soon migrating the site to a paid-for hosting service so that my readers did not have to see any ads.

That’s the model I continue to use 15 years on, even though I’m constantly urged to take advertising.

One Comment

  • Janet

    Well said, Roger!
    I too pay a minimal charge for a hosted website so I have complete control of it.
    I think some of these sites where you have to fight through scores of adverts to get to useful information are self defeating as I’m sure a lot of people just give up and look elsewhere.


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