Web Excursions 2021-07-15

Why parents and children get estranged; and how ad-tech companies get involved in the making of browser privacy standards by participating in W3C.


A Shift in American Family Values Is Fueling Estrangement

  • However they arrive at estrangement, parents and adult children seem to be looking at the past and present through very different eyes.

    • Estranged parents often tell me that their adult child is rewriting the history of their childhood, accusing them of things they didn’t do, and/or failing to acknowledge the ways in which the parent demonstrated their love and commitment.

    • Adult children frequently say the parent is gaslighting them by not acknowledging the harm they caused or are still causing, failing to respect their boundaries, and/or being unwilling to accept the adult child’s requirements for a healthy relationship.

  • Both sides often fail to recognize how profoundly the rules of family life have changed over the past half century.

    • For most of history, family relationships were based on mutual obligations rather than on mutual understanding.

    • Parents or children might reproach the other for failing to honor/acknowledge their duty,

    • but the idea that a relative could be faulted for failing to honor/acknowledge one’s ‘identity’ would have been incomprehensible.

    • Our conflicts are often psychological rather than material—and therefore even harder to resolve.

    • Starting in the late 19th century, traditional sources of identity such as class, religion, and community slowly began to be replaced with an emphasis on personal growth and happiness.

  • In the same way that unrealistically high expectations of fulfillment from marriage sometimes increase the risk of divorce, unrealistically high expectations of families as providers of happiness and meaning might increase the risk of estrangement.

    • If receiving shelter, food, and clothing is enough, then most of us should be grateful to our parents, irrespective of how our lives go.

    • However, if parents are supposed to produce happy adults, then, fairly or not, adult children might hold parents responsible for their unhappiness.

  • when reconciliations happen, parents often attribute successful reconnection to efforts on their part to make amends, such as

    • taking responsibility for past harms;

    • showing empathy for the adult child’s perspective and feelings;

    • expressing willingness to change problematic behaviors; and

    • accepting their child’s request for better boundaries around privacy, amount of contact, and time spent with grandchildren.

    • It’s also crucial to avoid discussions about “right” and “wrong,”

      • instead assuming that there is at least a kernel of truth in the child’s perspective, however at odds that is with the parent’s viewpoint.

  • Tara Westover wrote in her memoir, Educated, “I know only this: that when my mother told me she had not been the mother to me that she wished she’d been, she became that mother for the first time.”

Comments

  • hackeraccount: We're all living that Asian family joke. Parents spend their whole lives waiting for their kids to thank you. Kids spend their whole lives waiting for their parent to say "I'm sorry."

  • wonderwonder: Children want to put their parents on a pedestal and assume that all decisions; and any harm caused was intentional.

  • 6f8986c3: At some point, we have to stop looking to our parents, and take responsibility for our own lives. Until we can do that, we aren't really adults.

    • Look, I get it. My parents did a number on me, too. But I also recognize that they too were broken in many ways, and that they did the best they could with what they had. Yes, that means they gave me a lot of shitty advice. But it was good advice to their younger selves.


The ugly, geeky war for web privacy is playing out in the W3C

  • Lately, the spirit of collaboration has been under intense strain as the W3C has become a key battleground in the war over web privacy.

    • Over the last year, far from the notice of the average consumer or lawmaker, the people who actually make the web run have converged on this niche community of engineers to wrangle over

      • what privacy really means,

      • how the web can be more private in practice and

      • how much power tech giants should have to unilaterally enact this change.

  • Two sides

    • On one side are engineers who build browsers at Apple, Google, Mozilla, Brave and Microsoft.

      • frequent competitors that have come to embrace web privacy on drastically different timelines.

      • they've all heard the call of both global regulators and their own users, and

      • are turning to the W3C to develop new privacy-protective standards to replace the tracking techniques businesses have long relied on.

    • On the other side are companies that use cross-site tracking for things like website optimization and advertising, and are fighting for their industry's very survival.

  • Rather than asking technical questions about how to make browsers' privacy specifications work better, Rosewell, owner of an ad-tech company, often asks philosophical ones, like

    • whether anyone really wants their browser making certain privacy decisions for them at all.

    • To Rosewell, these questions may be the only thing stopping the web from being fully designed and controlled by Apple, Google and Microsoft, three companies that he said already have enough power as it is.

  • But the engineers and privacy advocates who have long held W3C territory aren't convinced.

    • They say the W3C is under siege by an insurgency that's thwarting browsers from developing new and important privacy protections for all web users.

  • the new entrants from the ad-tech industry and elsewhere aren't just trying to derail standards that could hurt their businesses;

    • they're proposing new ones that could actually enshrine tracking under the guise of privacy.

  • The dysfunction inside the W3C groups may send a dangerous and misleading message to the global regulators and lawmakers working on privacy issues —

    • that if the brightest minds in the industry can't figure out how to make privacy protections work for everyone, maybe no one can.

  • About a decade ago, the W3C was the site of a similar industrywide effort to build a Do Not Track feature

    • that would allow users to opt out of cross-site tracking through a simple on-off switch in their browsers.

    • But the Tracking Protection Working Group ended up being where Do Not Track went to die.

    • what really put Do Not Track underground was Microsoft's decision to turn the signal on by default in Internet Explorer.

      • Ad-tech companies that had banked on only a sliver of web users actually opting out of tracking resented a browser unilaterally making that decision for all of its users.

      • Suddenly, Brookman said, they lost interest in participating in discussions at all.

  • Privacy Sandbox

    • Google had chosen W3C as the venue for developing an array of new privacy standards that were part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative.

    • That proposal

      • spurred a backlash from both privacy advocates and companies that rely on third-party tracking.

      • inspired a flurry of newcomers, including from the ad-tech world, to join W3C in response.

    • Rosewell jumped into the conversation to challenge not the specifics of the technology,

      • but instead the very idea in which it was grounded.

      • objected to the notion that the W3C, which is a global community, should be turning policy from a single U.S. state into a technical standard

      • members might not be so thrilled if the W3C wanted to standardize policies from countries like China or India.

      • to promote and explain a proposal of his own, another avian-themed standard called SWAN.

        • allow publishers and ad-tech companies that join the SWAN network to share unique identifiers about web users.

  • From his perspective, browsers have too much power over the community, and

    • they use that power to quash conversations that might make them look bad. In fact, he charged Apple itself with "privacy washing."

    • Google doesn't pay [Apple] $12 billion a year just for the kudos of having their logo on an Apple phone. They do it for the data that the deal generates

    • The problem, as he sees it, is that privacy has been ill-defined within W3C. "Until you define privacy, until you define competition, everything becomes an opinion

  • Facebook's fate

    • Facebook's generals are busy negotiating peace treaties.

      • drafted a proposal that would give web users more choice over the interests their browsers assign to them.

    • it's also in Google's interest to appear collaborative

      • the U.K.'s CMA said it would play a "key oversight role" in reviewing Privacy Sandbox proposals "to ensure they do not distort competition."

    • Google's decision was the predictable conclusion of a drama they'd watched play out inside the W3C, which is, in some ways, just a microcosm of the larger debate happening in countries around the world.

      • Regulators in the U.K. had bought the ad industry's argument that privacy and competition are on a collision course.

        • using their power to pressure Google to put off changes that would make the world's most widely-used browser a little more private.