Tool in the spotlight: Click&Clean

Tool in the Spotlight: Click&Clean, a Firefox extension that eliminates data related to your current browser session and which can be set up so that it automatically clears out any residual browsing data when you terminate your browser. This way, every time you start your browser, you start with a clean slate.

NOTE: we are entirely unaffiliated with whoever produces this tool, we receive no compensation whatsoever from them.

Online advertising is theft of your bandwidth

This is a silly car-analogy and while it may not make sense at first, it’ll soon become clear why advertising is theft of your bandwidth.

Here’s the scenario:

You haven’t seen your grandma in a while so you jump in your car to go visit her. She lives in a very nice community just minutes away. As you make your turn onto the road, your car gets a mind of its own and it takes you all over town. It drives up and down large boulevards and streets, none of which are on any reasonable route from your home to your grandma. Actually, didn’t your car take you through this road already just a couple of minutes ago? You notice that everywhere the car takes you, there are billboards, always and everywhere billboards & adverts… It feels like your car is deliberately driving you through places where you are bound to see advertising, no matter where you look.
When you finally arrive at your grandma’s, you notice that your car spent half a tank of gas, and you are responsible for filling it again. You just wanted to visit your grandma who lives only a couple of minutes away, but you got driven around town for an hour first and had your gas-tank half emptied. You’ll never get that hour back and nor will you ever get back that gas money!

No reasonable person would accept this behavior from their car, nor should anyone accept this behavior.
Yet somehow, when it comes to the internet, we are told that this behavior is normal. In fact, staying with the analogy, we are told that without your car deciding where you should and shouldn’t go, you would never get to see your grandma.

When you visit a website, you expect that your device will talk to the server of that website and only to that server: you tell it to fetch the stick and it fetches the stick for you; just the stick, nothing more & nothing less. When it starts returning a stick, and a ball, and mud and some other animal, you stop playing with it.

With the way on-line advertising is done today, the decision of what comes back to you when you request a certain set of data is stolen from you. Someone else has made the decision for you as to what you will download, how much of it you will download, where you will download from, how frequently you will download it, etc.

When you visit a site infected with advertising, you ask your browser to get data from (for instance) who put instructions there from advertisers that tell your device to download a huge slew of advertising: first from and then some from and some more from a third place… A typical website contains at least 10 different levels of these kind of cascading downloads. In effect, your single and simple request for a little stick caused a truckload of logs to return.

Similarly, when you use an app on your mobile device that is infected with advertising, you effectively have opened a faucet that will just keep drip-drip-dripping for however long that app is active. Many of these apps use images as the adverts they present and images take up even more bandwidth. This can be a very big problem indeed, especially on mobile devices where the available bandwidth is already lower.

Essentially, advertising costs you money without any means for you to either prevent this cost or recoup it. All of this data being consumed adds up and while your internet-pipe may be large, it is still finite. When it gets saturated or the well ran dry, that’s the end of it!

Allowing advertising networks to control what you should download steals your bandwidth! Your internet-pipe is something you paid for, it is actually something that belongs to you. Anyone forcing you into a way of how to spend this currency is committing theft! You wouldn’t like it or allow it when it is money and you shouldn’t like it when it is bandwidth!

Advertising is theft

When the subject of advertising blocking comes up, there’s always the argument that by ad-blocking you deprive those running a site from revenue. Frequently, it is phrased as “running an ad-blocker is theft”. This argument hinges upon the assumption that by not giving the advertiser full, unfettered and unregulated access to your device, your time, your eyes, your privacy, etc., you somehow deprive them of something that is already theirs… that you’re taking something that they already possessed.

We, at Fundamental Software, think that these arguments against blocking advertising are false and disingenuous. We take a more aggressive stance: if there is any theft going on, it is theft from you, the one being advertised to. Stay tuned for a series of posts on how advertising is actually theft from you.