I use the Internet based on a set of principles. These principles are based on concepts of ownership, autonomous sovereignty of my property, and democracy. When I purchase a product in this democracy, I own that product, and am free to do with it what I like within the laws that protect the rights of others from harm. This means the intended purpose or use of a product I buy is entirely up to me (governed by well-principled laws) once I have paid for it, not to the person who sold it to me. This means that every byte of memory, every block of storage, every single clock cycle that my computer generates belongs to me. I paid for the hardware, and I paid for the electricity that feeds it. The seller of the computer forfeits all rights to those things once they receive my money, because that is how the exchange of goods for money works. This is why I won’t ever own a computer made by Apple, because they don’t share this philosophy. An Apple product is always owned by Apple; they only give you the right to use it as they see fit. It’s also why I refuse to run Microsoft Windows, as Microsoft appropriates some of my clock cycles, memory, and drive storage for their own purposes, attempting to do so without my knowledge or explicit consent, and only gives me the right to use their software under their terms and conditions. It is also why I don’t use proprietary closed source software that only give me the right to use that software under certain terms and conditions. I only run Linux and open source software, and generally consent to the use of clock cycles, drive storage, and memory to that which benefits the community because ultimately that also benefits me and contributes to improvements in the open source software that I like to use. I have nothing against Microsoft per se, just that their terms of agreement are not congruent with my own principles.

When it comes to connecting my computer to the Internet, I do so understanding that I, along with others, have sovereign ownership over each of our computers. I pay for my connection to the Internet, just as they pay for theirs. I use some of my Internet access to exercise my charter right to freedom of the press, which is what this is. I have designed this site with respect to your sovereignty in mind; you can run ad blockers and block scripts, and it does not matter. The site does work better if you allow scripts; for example, doing so will enable you to select “Dark” mode (the half circle icon at the top of the page), and enables the “Show more” menu, but my site is not unavailable to you because of it. Not everyone who runs a website on the Internet share my ethics, nor should I expect them to. That is why I use NoScript in the Firefox browser.

NoScript simply blocks a website’s ability to run scripts on my computer, unless I explicitly permit it. Scripts are bits of code that execute on your computer when you visit a website. Scripts make a website more interactive, but they also has been the vector hackers and bad players have been using to compromise people’s computers for over two decades now. This is why people tell you to not click on a link in an unknown e-mail; because it could lead to a website that could run a malicious script. Once executed, malware can be potentially installed, allowing criminals to appropriate some of your clock cycles, memory, and storage for purposes such as stealing your passwords, getting access to your bank account…in other words, to use your computer against you for their own profit. The Internet really is the wild frontier, and if some Russian hacker gets you to click on a link that ultimately allows her to clean out your bank account, there’s really nothing you’re going to be able to do about that after the fact. We live in a day and age where digital warfare is very real, and a once trusted website could get taken over.

The NoScript browser extension in action The NoScript browser extension in action; what the heck is doubleclick anyway?

When I use the Internet to browse the World Wide Web, I use the Firefox browser running NoScript in order to protect my computer and myself from these bad players. That really is the ultimate defense; without being able to run a script, a malicious website is dead in the water and powerless to do anything. But there are sites which require the use of scripts in order to run properly. One of these is Youtube. So I will turn on the minimal number of scripts that are needed to make it function. Scripts that have nothing to do with the delivery of the video content don’t need to be turned on as far as I’m concerned, and the fewer the number of sites that are allowed to run scripts, the safer I will be.

I understand that Youtube content is paid for through ad revenue. Just as I understand that, when I turn on a radio or television station, that content is also paid for by ad revenue. Many videos incorporate advertising within the video itself, and Youtube could easily inject video content whenever they please. My use of NoScript doesn’t stop advertising in these videos. But that’s not what this is really about; this is about Google appropriating some of the resources of my computer for their marketing research. They want to be able to use my computer to track me and my behaviour on the Internet and how I use my computer in order to better manipulate me into buying things I don’t really need. I do not consent to them using my computer in this way; in fact, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not much better than what the hackers do to steal our personal information. The only real difference is the hackers will try to clean out my bank account all at once, whereas Google will try to manipulate me into draining it for them over a period of time.

What is my solution to this? Paying for YouTube premium doesn’t solve the issue; even if I paid for an “Ad free” YouTube experience, they’re still going to want me to leave my computer wide open for them to appropriate to collect data on me to sell advertisers. This is because that is the core of Google’s business. The actual solution is for me to come to the realization that I don’t really need YouTube in my life. It only serves as another useless distraction, stealing time that could be better spent in other ways, such as reading a good book, going for a walk through nature, or spending time with family. Meanwhile, there are other services, such as PeerTube, where a good content provider can set up a channel and deliver content and advertising as they see fit for their particular audience. At this point, I can say that YouTube has become irrelevant to me, so now that they’ve change their terms of service to be in violation of my own principles, I can stick to my principles, walk away, and say, “It’s been fun.”