Force Companies to Respect Do Not Track with EFF's Privacy Badger Browser Extension

If they won't respect your privacy, you have to make them

By on May 2nd, 2014 13:28 GMT

Tech companies may not care too much about your desire to stay hidden while browsing the Internet, but privacy advocates sure do. With that in mind, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a web browser extension to block out online advertising techniques and companies that just don’t care you don’t want to be tracked.

Dubbed the “Privacy Badger,” the extension is available for both Chrome and Firefox and there are still some bugs in there, but nothing major. Unlike other tools, this one will just sit quietly in your browser and keep monitoring third parties that interact with you as you move from site to site.

“When you visit websites, your copy of Privacy Badger keeps note of the "third party" domains that embed images, scripts and advertising in the pages you visit,” the company explains.

Basically, if a third-party server appears to be tracking you without permission, by using uniquely identifying cookies to collect a record of the pages you visit across multiple sites, the app will disallow content from that tracker.

The app will also have a small side effect that you may not be counting on, but that you’ll likely actually love – Privacy Badger will block ads.

The code isn’t specifically designed to do this, but it will disallow any visible or invisible third-party scripts or images that appear to be tracking you even when you send a Do Not Track signal. Let’s just say that such ads are casualties of war and stick to that.

Of course, not all ads are bad and just as not even AdBlock Plus blocks everything, neither will Privacy Badger.

The extension comes with three states. Red means that a tracker was blocked, yellow means that it won’t send cookies or referrers to the tracker, while green indicates that no trackers were blocked. Users can override the automatic blocking settings.

Do Not Track is a browser privacy standard that allows users to opt out of being tracked by Internet companies, meaning that companies won’t be able to deliver information about you to advertisers.

While a lot of companies said they’d love to join and apply the standard when it was announced, adoption has been slow and selective. In fact, Yahoo has just announced that it would no longer respect Do Not Track signals sent by web browsers. Its explanation was along the lines of “no one’s doing it, so we’re not going to do it either,” even though it was one of the original companies to recognize DNT across its websites.

1 Comment