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Stratechery on privacy fundamentalism

Ben Thompson:

It is disappointing, though, that the maker of one of the most important and the most unavoidable browser technologies in the world (WebKit is the only option on iOS) has decided that an absolutist approach that will ultimately improve the competitive position of massive first party advertisers like Google and Facebook, even as it harms smaller sites that rely on 3rd-party providers for not just ads but all aspects of their business, is what is best for everyone.

In a world full of binary takes on privacy – which, to be, I’ve been guilty of – Thompson has provided a thoughtful counterpoint.

It feels counterintuitive that any more to improve people’s privacy online would help the likes of Facebook and Google. After all, they’re chief among the organisations people want to escape.

But it is a feeling and not more than that, a feeling based on what’re ultimately surface-level understandings of how the internet and all its myriad forces operate.

Privacy is just one element of the web’s power dynamics. A sizeable one, sure. But if we really want to limit the influence places like Google and Facebook have over our life, we have to be careful about how we start picking their powers apart.



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