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Topic: Universal Music beacon< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Olivier Offline




Group: Super Admins
Posts: 1849
Joined: Nov. 1999
Posted: Feb. 20 2008, 11:40

We've installed a beacon on the tubular.net home page that allows Universal Music to track certain sites you visit, such as Amazon.com, thanks to a cookie. I'll post more information when we have some. The goal, as I see it, is to find the best ways to promote Mike Oldfield on the web, and to establish a tight cooperation between Universal and tubular.net. So we are losing some privacy here, for example, Universal would know that xx% of tubular.net users are Amazon.com customers, but I think it's not too evil (the cookie is not linked to your forum profile, it's anonymous on the tubular.net side - not sure yet on the Amazon.com side).
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Matt Offline




Group: Admins
Posts: 1186
Joined: Nov. 2002
Posted: Feb. 20 2008, 12:14

The Beacon, and Mike Oldfield used to have such pleasant connotations :/

At least the Admins have kept us informed however. Now how do I turn cookies off again.....


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"I say I say I say I say, what's got three bottles and five eyes and no legs and two wheels"
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Olivier Offline




Group: Super Admins
Posts: 1849
Joined: Nov. 1999
Posted: Feb. 20 2008, 13:12

The tracking is done by http://www.tacoda.net/
They have a list of their "members" here: http://www.tacoda.net/publishers/benefits.php
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Moz Offline




Group: Musicians
Posts: 600
Joined: July 2005
Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 03:52

I would strongly advise the admins (and Universal) to take note of what happened with Facebook:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7120916.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7130349.stm

At the very least, please do what Facebook did and make it an opt-in system.


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Twitter: @benbarden
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Alan D Offline




Group: Members
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Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 04:51

There's a lot of misunderstanding (and probably too much fuss made) about tracking cookies (and I'm not entirely sure I fully understand them myself). As far as I understand the tacoda cookie, its purpose is not to gather information about an individual, but to target advertising. The trouble is that most people have antispyware programs that alert users to the presence of tracking cookies as low level threats, and then offer to remove them when found. So they're widely perceived as a threat to security even though they're not - though they do potentially offer a threat to privacy.

Personally, I see no reason why any company should be privy to my own or to anyone else's browsing habits, for whatever reason without asking permission first, so I set my browser to block third party cookies as a matter of course. Without making a big deal out of it, I'd prefer it if Tubular.net did not try to plant a tracking cookie on my computer. The correct approach is not to assume that we all want to opt in unless we opt out - but to assume opting out to be the default position, and invite us to opt in, as Moz suggests. You can go to the tacoda website here and opt out, but I don't think non-compliers should be required to do that.

If you still use IE6 like me and want to block third party cookies, open Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then Internet Options, then click the Privacy tab at the top, then click on  the 'Advanced' button (don't worry, it isn't scary) and tick the boxes to 'Override automatic cookie handling', 'Accept' first party cookies, and 'Block' third party cookies. Click OK and you're done.

Alternatively (or as well), you can install a program like Ccleaner, which will allow you to clear out your cookies at the click of a button, while still retaining the helpful ones (like those that store your log-in details for sites like this one).
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Olivier Offline




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Joined: Nov. 1999
Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 12:56

Just want to reiterate that there is no personal data in the Universal cookie (the only thing that could be there would be your forum information, and it's not shared), it's not like Facebook. Also, I did ask them if it was possible to have an opt-in system, but they say no. We hesitated, but we are trying to establish a fruitful relationship with Universal, and are thinking, at least for now, that this beacon is an acceptable price to pay for what they may offer in exchange, and it could also be positive to promote Mike Oldfield. We are keeping a very close eye on it though.
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Tati The Sentinel Offline




Group: Members
Posts: 3360
Joined: Feb. 2002
Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 16:36

Does it will work also while we're surfing on Amazon.co.uk ?

So,let's promote more Mike Oldfield.He deserves it.


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"But it's always the outsider, the black sheep, that becomes the blockbuster." - Mike Oldfield, 2014

"I remember feeling that I'd been judged unfairly and that I was going to prove them wrong." - Peter Davison, 2011
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Ray Offline




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Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 17:46

As of today i will stop using Amazon.

I strongly dislike this type of thing.


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Looking out over the harbour in Peel.......
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Olivier Offline




Group: Super Admins
Posts: 1849
Joined: Nov. 1999
Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 17:54

I think the idea is to see what web sites we use a lot as Mike Oldfield fans, and then advertise there, hoping that since it's so popular amongst us, people there might like Mike Oldfield too. Universal mentionned Amazon to us, so my guess is they give the tubular.net cookies to Amazon, and Amazon tell them how many of these are their customers. Universal also knows the IP of the cookie, so they'd know the country of the customer. And there are probably other shops than Amazon. Then, if Universal pays Amazon a bit more, Amazon could (I'd have to check their privacy policy if the have the right to do that) reveal to them more about the profiles of the customers, like these people never bought a Britney Spears album, so Universal would know it would not be useful to advertise on britneyspears.com, or that lot of buy computer books, so they could advertise on slashdot.org, or offer a free usb key when you buy the CD and something else at  Amazon, etc. Then, if they cross reference with all the shops using the cookie and have good algorithms, it can become more powerful and they may discover interesting shopping patterns. But I think I'm probably a bit too idealistic here, ads are not very well targeted at all on the web (and I let everybody give me their cookie)... but in theory...

I personally don't mind people know my tastes and show me ads I like, but I understand that privacy is a very sensitive issue, so again, we are following very closely this topic.
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olracUK Offline




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Posted: Feb. 21 2008, 18:54

Well, I always delete all cookies purely as a matter of principle. My viewing habits are my own, and if any one wants to know what I look at then they can ask me or pay me.

I really appreaciate all the great work Olivier and the others have done to make Tub.net the best Mike forum on the web, it is a fantastic fan forum and a really important place for me. And I know that hosting costs not just personal time but money too. And we all want a closer relationship with who-ever is Mike's current label for possible goodies.

But, is this the way forward? To allow a third party to track my browsing just because I am a user of this site, even if it is "anonymous".

Perhaps it is just a knee jerk reaction, but I will add my voice to "no thanks". After all, it's taken many years to turn into a Grumpy Old Man.

Having said that, can I applaud Olivier for openly letting us know of the cookie? Many sites have these trackers hidden as a matter of course. It just adds to my admiration of the Admins here that they show honesty and openess with the users.


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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 03:52

Thinking of those like Ray and Andy who dislike the idea perhaps a little more strongly than I, may I suggest a different way of looking at the situation? Suppose Universal asked us individually, 'May we track your browsing?', and were perfectly willing to accept our answer, whether yes or no. There's nothing to object to, in that, is there? Nothing wrong in asking, as long as 'no' is an acceptable answer.

Now, basically, if you set your browser to reject third party cookies as I explained in my post above, that is pretty well what happens. Your computer is asked: 'Do you want this tracking cookie?'. Your computer replies 'no' on your behalf. And there's an end to it. Knowledge really is power. Or something.

As far as I'm aware there's no adverse effect if you set your browser to reject third party cookies. Certainly I've never experienced a moment's inconvenience, because no one needs third party cookies. Set your browser to reject them, and there's no need to stop using Amazon or do anything so drastic. It's simply no longer an issue for you. You've said 'no', once and for all and you can just forget the whole thing and carry on as usual.
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Matt Offline




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Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 04:47

Firefox (version 2 anyway) doesn't include a feature to disable 3rd party cookies in the same way as Internet Explorer.

One option for firefox users is to install the Cookiesafe extension that allows more control over cookies. Once installed, I think going to the Tools -> Addons menu, click on cookiesafe, click on Options, look for the "Global" tab and tick the "Allow for originating website only" will do the trick. If I have this wrong somebody please correct!


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"I say I say I say I say, what's got three bottles and five eyes and no legs and two wheels"
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Moz Offline




Group: Musicians
Posts: 600
Joined: July 2005
Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 06:31

I'm currently testing Firefox 3 Beta 3, and most add-ons don't work with it yet.  So that route is probably not going to work for me.

Looking at my Firefox settings, I can block cookies from Tubular.net but that would cause issues with the forums too.

I could just avoid the Tubular.net home page, but that's not exactly ideal.

This concerns me:

Quote
Also, I did ask them if it was possible to have an opt-in system, but they say no. We hesitated, but we are trying to establish a fruitful relationship with Universal, and are thinking, at least for now, that this beacon is an acceptable price to pay for what they may offer in exchange, and it could also be positive to promote Mike Oldfield. We are keeping a very close eye on it though.


It's good to have this forum connected to Universal, but it should be a two-way deal.  When asked if this could be an opt-in system, Universal said no.  Who's running this site?

This community may benefit greatly from good relations with Universal, but to be fair, Universal may ultimately benefit from this community as much as we benefit from them - if not more.

If this leads to more sales for Universal, then good for them, but we should have the option to opt out without worrying about browser settings - and I'm sure a lot of people will not know how to block cookies.


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Twitter: @benbarden
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Korgscrew Offline




Group: Super Admins
Posts: 3511
Joined: Dec. 1999
Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 07:12

With Firefox, you'll want to block cookies from tacoda.net rather than tubular.net. That'll then keep you safe from their tracking cookies whichever site is using them.

In Safari, it's as easy as clicking the security tab in the preferences box and setting it to accept cookies 'only from sites I navigate to'.

As for my opinion of this...well...I have to say the concept does bother me slightly. I see a number of issues here, and I'm watching the whole situation just as Olivier is. I've not been directly involved in the discussions with Universal about this particular matter, but I believe they have given various reassurances that it's all relatively innocent (as innocent as multinational corporations get...) and in the name of promoting Mike Oldfield better. I don't believe that the data collected is anything more than would be collected by site analytics systems anyway, aside from the fact that it works across multiple sites (and does so by assigning each user an anonymous ID). That's not to say I don't understand people's concerns, though - I do, and it's something which I think is going to be important to discuss with them further.

Like Olivier hinted, we're negotiating some other things at the moment. There's a decent sounding offer on the table which I'm hoping for more details of soon. It may of course turn out to not be as good as it sounds, but we do hope that the relationship does turn out to be two way...
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 11:19

There's some helpful information about how to block third party cookies in a range of browsers here, from the Spybot people.

Moz said:
Quote
I'm sure a lot of people will not know how to block cookies.

I'm sure you're right, Ben - but maybe it's worth taking the opportunity here to encourage them to learn how? It's not difficult. But also it's worth stressing that the 'threat' from tracking cookies is hugely overestimated by large numbers of people, just because their antispyware programs make such a fuss about picking them up. Knowledge is power in more ways than one.

Anyone seriously worried about the tacoda cookie as a privacy issue would do better to check whether their defences against real, criminal threats are adequate.
You can do a basic test of your firewall at Steve Gibson's excellent security website here.
You can check your browser vulnerability here, and here. (Both tests recommended by MVPs.org.)

Is your Windows fully updated with all patches in place? Do you have several trustworthy antispyware programs installed, with updated definitions, and do you scan with them regularly? Do you have some kind of passive antispyware protection in place, such as Spywareblaster, and/or a hosts file?

If there's any doubt about any of those things, then a tacoda tracking cookie certainly isn't worth worrying about.
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Matt Offline




Group: Admins
Posts: 1186
Joined: Nov. 2002
Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 11:33

Quote (Alan D @ Feb. 22 2008, 16:19)
If there's any doubt about any of those things, then a tacoda tracking cookie certainly isn't worth worrying about.

Fair point, though the disappointing thing about this is the thought of being spied upon by somewhere you thought of as friendly. We know there are "bad people" and "bad places" out there (thanks for the links BTW) but I imagine most people here like to think of tb.net as a haven from such stuff.

I admit I hadn't thought much about cookies before this came up and looking through the cookies stored on my machine I wondered what use any of them might be to me. Turns out the only one I think I need is tb.net to avoid me logging in every time I visit. I've removed all other cookies and disabled cookies except for tb.net and haven't noticed any problems with any of the sites I've visited today! I realise that probably makes me not much of a "Web 2.0" sort of person (and I am sure I'll need to enable a shopping site or two before long) but I think I might just leave my cookies off for now. What benefit was I getting from the hundreds of the damn things that were sitting in my cookie store? Most of them with the word "ad" somewhere.


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"I say I say I say I say, what's got three bottles and five eyes and no legs and two wheels"
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Alan D Offline




Group: Members
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Joined: Aug. 2004
Posted: Feb. 22 2008, 11:44

Quote (Matt @ Feb. 22 2008, 16:33)
We know there are "bad people" and "bad places" out there (thanks for the links BTW) but I imagine most people here like to think of tb.net as a haven from such stuff.

But it is, Matt. That's the point I'm trying to make. The privacy issue involved here is virtually non-existent - and is certainly insignificant in comparison to the very real threats that are just a click away from you (and against which most people - including those who are worried about cookies - probably have inadequate defences).

What's becoming obvious, though, is that there's a significant public relations issue, despite that fact.
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moonchildhippy Offline




Group: Members
Posts: 1807
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Posted: Feb. 25 2008, 18:15

Quote (Alan D @ Feb. 21 2008, 08:51)
There's a lot of misunderstanding (and probably too much fuss made) about tracking cookies (and I'm not entirely sure I fully understand them myself). As far as I understand the tacoda cookie, its purpose is not to gather information about an individual, but to target advertising. The trouble is that most people have antispyware programs that alert users to the presence of tracking cookies as low level threats, and then offer to remove them when found. So they're widely perceived as a threat to security even though they're not - though they do potentially offer a threat to privacy.

Personally, I see no reason why any company should be privy to my own or to anyone else's browsing habits, for whatever reason without asking permission first, so I set my browser to block third party cookies as a matter of course. Without making a big deal out of it, I'd prefer it if Tubular.net did not try to plant a tracking cookie on my computer. The correct approach is not to assume that we all want to opt in unless we opt out - but to assume opting out to be the default position, and invite us to opt in, as Moz suggests. You can go to the tacoda website here and opt out, but I don't think non-compliers should be required to do that.

If you still use IE6 like me and want to block third party cookies, open Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then Internet Options, then click the Privacy tab at the top, then click on  the 'Advanced' button (don't worry, it isn't scary) and tick the boxes to 'Override automatic cookie handling', 'Accept' first party cookies, and 'Block' third party cookies. Click OK and you're done.

Alternatively (or as well), you can install a program like Ccleaner, which will allow you to clear out your cookies at the click of a button, while still retaining the helpful ones (like those that store your log-in details for sites like this one).

I agree I block third party cookies as a matter of principal.  I seem to get enough spam e-mails as it is, don't know how. I'm running Windows Vista, with latest version of IE and AVG free edition along with Windows Defender, which is Microsoft's security programme. I'm just wondering if I can switch my main browser and e-mail to Firefox and Thunderbird, as I think they allow fewer pop ups through.  I try and block these and third party cookies, but it doesn't always seem to work.

--------------
I'm going slightly mad,
It finally happened, I'm slightly mad , just very slightly mad

If you feel a little glum to Hergest Ridge you should come.


I'm challenging  taboos surrounding mental health


"Part time hippy"

I'M SUPPORTING OUR SOLDIERS

BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW!!
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Feb. 26 2008, 03:38

Quote (moonchildhippy @ Feb. 25 2008, 23:15)
I'm running Windows Vista, with latest version of IE and AVG free edition along with Windows Defender, which is Microsoft's security programme. I'm just wondering if I can switch my main browser and e-mail to Firefox and Thunderbird, as I think they allow fewer pop ups through.  I try and block these and third party cookies, but it doesn't always seem to work.

There are some good free programs for XP that would help, but I don't know anything about Vista, or IE7, I'm afraid. I'd have thought IE7 would have even better cookie control than 6, though?
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Olivier Offline




Group: Super Admins
Posts: 1849
Joined: Nov. 1999
Posted: Mar. 09 2008, 17:49

We've removed the beacon. See instructions above to remove the cookies from your browser. Universal probably collected much of the data they wanted already. We'd have loved more feedback from them, building someting together, rather than being silently monitored for not very clear purposes.
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