The New York Times’s Hypocrisy on Ad Tracking and Privacy

So yesterday I linked to last week’s big story from the NYT’s Privacy Project regarding the data they obtained from a 50-billion-entry database leaked from a whistleblower at a location collection company.

Here’s the thing. The NYT’s website is loaded with several dozen ad-trackers. I don’t know if any of them collect location data too, but you’d be a fool to bet against that. Here’s the footer they include at the bottom of each story warning about this (although it’s not written in the language of a warning):

Like other media companies, The Times collects data on its visitors when they read stories like this one. For more detail please see our privacy policy and our publisher’s description of The Times’s practices and continued steps to increase transparency and protections.

I realize it’s not the reporters from the Privacy Project who decided that the Times would get into bed with the ad-tracking industry. But it severely undercuts their credibility on the issue. Their message, as a whole, amounts to “This bad thing is going on — a profound invasion of privacy on an almost unimaginable mass scale by unregulated private companies — and we ourselves are up to our necks in supplying the data to such an extent that you, the reader, are supplying this sort of data right now just by reading this very article in which we’re telling you how pernicious this whole racket is.

The Times needs to come to grips with the fact that they are a player in this racket.

Friday, 27 December 2019