English

Why the internet really sucks right now

livingwogoogle
rant
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f57d3fa9948> #<Tag:0x00007f57d3fa97b8>

#1

First of all: Sorry for the rant. Sometimes I get angry at a large portion of the world.

Some time ago Fairphone tooted about a free online course about Circular Economy. It’s a course on the online platform Coursera provided by the Lund University in Sweden.
I created a free account on Coursera and started the course as well as some other courses on sustainable economy provided by Lund University as well as some other universities.

Today Coursera added G%§$e’s re-Captcha to their site and won’t log me in anymore without selling my soul to the devil.
I tried to contact their support team, but I can’t use the contact form without logging in.
I tried to mail support@coursera.org, but I only get an automatic response saying this email address is no longer used and to use the contact form instead. I tried the only real email address I could find - press@coursera.org - but only got an automatic response saying these emails are filtered for support requests which are not answered.
There is no phone number and not even a street address I could send a letter to.

The thing that really angers me: This is not a singular company and it’s not even just for-profit companies that are impossible to contact without agreeing to G%§$e’s privacy policy and TOS. The same is true even for some self proclaimed free software companies, non-profits, public universities, city governments and political parties - obviously the for last 3 examples there is always at least a street address to be found.

Do I really have to go to the supreme court to fight for my right to contact organizations without having to give my data to G%§$e?
And why are there no anti re-Captcha campaigns by the likes of the FSF or EFF yet?


F*** all the website maintainers who

  • implement re-Captcha or other G%§$e anti-services (like googletagmanager on this very forum)
  • can’t set up their sites to be accessed via https
  • won’t let you access the sites with an adblocker enabled
  • put social media like/follow-buttons on their websites
  • fail to set up the website so it works without java script

#2

I’m totally with you in this regard. Problem is that Google accustomed web developers to the ways Google wants the web to be. And web developers have either grown comfortable or lazy or ignorant about the free web.

One of the last places to find truly good sites may be the dark web.


#3

This makes Coursera unusable for me.

I wonder if the HackerOne page mentioned on the bottom of the contact page may be a way to contact them about this privacy problem?

Also how can one contact Coursera now if one wants do delete the account including all data? In addition to the privacy concerns there is another problem: I am not able to solve these captchas. So I am not able to login any more …


#4

@paulakreuzer I completely understand you, but don’t you have tracker blocker addons?
I block the shit out of everything, I use

  • Adblock (obvious, but I also activated the tracker blocker)
  • Blur (tracker blocker and disposable emails)
  • CanvasBlocker (makes fingerprining harder)
  • Decentraleyes (tracker blocker)
  • DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials (tracker blocker)
  • Facebook Container (isolates Facebook from everything else, so at least they can only track me while using their site)
  • HTTPS Everywhere (obvious)
  • Privacy Badger (tracker blocker, also blocks automatic data collection from social buttons)
  • uBlock Origin (ad and tracker blocker)

I’d also use AdNauseam (which clicks on every ad automatically to destroy data profiles), but they recommend not to use it together with other adblockers.


#5

I always send the one email complaint to any service I use that decides to add Google’s all-seeing eye to their website. They reply with “uhhhh ok we’ll look into it or something” and then I give up and just try to pirate whatever it is that I’m using them for. Even aside from privacy concerns, I use a VPN and half the time the captcha just won’t let me log in, no matter how many fire hydrants and bicycles I click.

The following is not applicable to anything that requires a login, but I’ve been trying to rely on RSS feeds more lately. I removed nearly all of my browser bookmarks and replaced them with feeds in a feed reader - I even read this forum in my aggregator. And for those websites that don’t use RSS or Atom I’ve written a little script to notify me when there’s an update.

I would amend your statement about the internet sucking to say that websites suck - we’ve forgotten the purpose of websites (the effective transfer of information) and made them cumbersome to the point of being unusable. The sooner we all learn to stop using websites, the better. The future is feeds, baby!


#6

Of course I block all that, but that renders 90% of the internet inaccessible.*

*Sure 99% of those 90% I don’t care about, but still.


#7

@paulakreuzer Really? I don’t have any issues actually


#8

Can we do something in that regard? I don’t Google Tag Manager is required for the forum functionality. And for analytics, there are self hosted alternatives if that is necessary. @Stefan, you should who to contact with such a request?


#9

@Monica.Ciovica ? :slight_smile:


#10

?

I’ve taken a few courses on coursera in the past, and could easily log in without any captcha just a few minutes ago.


#11

Then make sure you don’t log out - I got logged out randomly.
I’m not a 100% sure it’s because of the captcha, because I only get the error:

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and try again.

But the login screen says:

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

So I assume that’s why. Anyway I can’t find out because I can’t contact them.


#12

You could try one of the mail-addresses for privacy concerns:
privacy@coursera
security@coursera
https://www.coursera.org/about/privacy
They really should at least answer your questions.
And at first sight the data transfer to google just for logging in does not seem to be covered by their own declarations.


#13

After trying many ways now to contact them I finally heard back (no idea which one worked in the end) and got a friendly, but not helpful reply:

I apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to remove the captcha, as this was implemented to improve learner’s security and privacy; this will make it much harder for unwanted visitors (hack bots, SPAM bots, etc) to enter your account and access the information.

Lol.

If you’re concerned about privacy and security you’d use an alternative

https://www.phpcaptcha.org/


https://www.phpclasses.org/package/3193-PHP-Generate-CAPTCHA-validation-images-with-effects.html

PS: I asked coursera to delete my account and data. :frowning:


#14

Clearly they don’t get the difference between those two. Security will probably improve, since bots won’t be able to create accounts, but “adding privacy” by adding G00gle is like adding water to a burning oil pan, you make things much worse than they already are…


#15

Perhaps the major problem right now is the lack of “digital literacy” from most Internet users (including web developers). No one has a clue any more about how was and how should be the Web (i.e. decentralised and opened). Everyone wants trendy design and useless functionalities (why so much non-free JavaScript nowadays?). They do not know the underlying privacy implications.
Also, what is really worrying is the amount of web developper online courses sponsored in a way or another by Google.

Unfortunately, the Web has become locked by the GAFAM and drifts dangerously towards a mainstream media (like TV).

P.S: @paulakreuzer Discourse forums like Fairphone do not work without Free JavaScript unfortunately.


#16

I know. :frowning:
Blocking Java script is the only thing I don’t do, so at least the few sites I really want to use work.


#17

What do you mean by “non-free JavaScript”?


#18

Proprietary, non-libre, including non-open. One could argue “JavaScript is an interpreted language and the source is delivered to the end-user” but today web development practices (module bundling and minification) make that non-trivial and, at the end of the day, impractical.


#19

You can find further details about the ethical problems of non-free JavaScript in this article by Richard Stallman.


#20

It seems I finally found a home: let’s embrace each other.

“Coders” and web master are using free tools that G%§$e (and others, like iframe for social buttons too) offers without even thinking about privacy (your privacy) and security (your security).
I think that is the main problem is that they simply don’t know ( @takuan “digital literacy”) about security / privacy concerns (~90%) or don’t care at all (~8%), it is way to easy to implement (1.9%).

Now le’t open a G%§$e Group about global surveillance.
Ricky