EFF’s Privacy Badger prevents users being tracked online

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has finally released version 1.0 of Privacy Badger, a browser extension that blocks some of the sneakiest trackers that try to spy on your Web browsing habits.

More than a quarter of a million users have already installed the alpha and beta releases of Privacy Badger. The new Privacy Badger 1.0 includes blocking of certain kinds of super-cookies and browser fingerprinting—the latest ways that some parts of the online tracking industry try to follow Internet users from site to site.

“It’s likely you are being tracked by advertisers and other third parties online. You can see some of it when it’s happening, such as ads that follow you around the Web that seem to reflect your past browsing history,” said EFF Staff Technologist Cooper Quintin, lead developer of Privacy Badger. “Those echoes from your past mean you are being tracked, and the records of your online activity are distributed to other third parties—all without your knowledge, control, or consent. But Privacy Badger 1.0 will spot many of the trackers following you without your permission, and will block them or screen out the cookies that do their dirty work.”

Privacy Badger 1.0 works in tandem with the new Do Not Track (DNT) policy. Users can set the DNT flag—in their browser settings or by installing Privacy Badger—to signal that they want to opt-out of online tracking. Privacy Badger won’t block third-party services that promise to honor all DNT requests.

“As you browse the Web, Privacy Badger looks at any third party domains that are loaded on a given site and determines whether or not they appear to be tracking you (e.g. by setting cookies that could be used for tracking, or fingerprinting your browser). If the same third party domain appears to be tracking you on three or more different websites, Privacy Badger will conclude that the third party domain is a tracker and block future connections to it,” Cooper Quintin and Noah Swartz explained in a blog post.

“For certain websites, if Privacy Badger were to block an embedded domain entirely it would break the site’s core functionality. For example, if Privacy Badger were to block ‘licensebuttons.net,’ Creative Commons buttons would no longer load. In these cases Privacy Badger blocks the domain from setting or receiving any cookies or ‘referer’ headers, but allows the embedded content to load.”

The Privacy Privacy Badger 1.0 extension is available for Firefox and for Chrome.




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