Advertisers and others are constantly trying to track where we go and what we do on the Internet. There are a variety of browser add-ons which attempt to monitor and/or block these tracking efforts and Gizmo’s often reviews these defensive browser additions. A fairly new one that is intriguing is called Privacy Badger and I decided to take a look at it.
Privacy Badger is from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and takes a somewhat different approach to guarding privacy. It is not an automatic ad or cookie blocker but monitors and adapts to third-party tracking activity as you go to different sites around the web. If a particular third party is judged to engage in activity that is invasive of privacy, then their ads and cookies are blocked. Here is the EFF description:
“Privacy Badger is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web. If an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission, Privacy Badger automatically blocks that advertiser from loading any more content in your browser. To the advertiser, it's like you suddenly disappeared.”
Privacy Badger is currently available as an add-on for the Chrome and Firefox browsers and can be installed from this page. There is also a FAQ with detailed information about the add-on. It is currently in beta and may have some bugs but it seems to work quite well.
The interesting feature of Privacy Badger is that it is heuristic and learns from your personal way of browsing the web. At first, it will block less than other add-ons until it learns which third-party sites are trying to track you. As it detects tracking behavior when you go around the web, it will block more and more. Thus, it provides a personalized defense of your privacy without requiring you to configure such things as blacklists. It does come with a whitelist of such well-known sites as Google Maps. If you wish, you can also make manual settings for individual sites, as shown in the graphic below.
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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.
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