EFF releases Chrome, Firefox plugin to block third-party tracking

One feature aims to stop tracking tied to clicking the Facebook 'like' on outside sites

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy rights group, has released a downloadable plugin for Chrome and Firefox designed to stop third parties from tracking people's Web browsing.

The tool, Privacy Badger, is in beta and comes following an alpha launch several months ago. Since then more than 150,000 people have installed it, the EFF said Monday.

The extension is not meant to block online ads outright. It's a broader privacy tool designed to stop third parties from gathering a record of the pages people visit across the Web.

"Our aim is not to block ads, but to prevent non-consensual invasions of people's privacy because we believe they are inherently objectionable," the group says.

However, because third-party trackers often exist to serve ads, Privacy Badger users will likely see less of them.

The tool is also designed to stop the tracking that happens when people click on social media widgets such as the Facebook "like" or Twitter tweet button on sites outside of Facebook or Twitter.

Third-party trackers are companies that embed different content like images, scripts and advertising into websites. The companies often use digital files or "cookies" stored in people's browsers to keep track of their browsing activity. The content these trackers embed on sites often exists alongside the site's own content, such as news articles on nytimes.com.

Privacy Badger is designed to keep track of these different sources of content. And if the same source appears to be tracking a person's browser across different websites, then the extension is meant to stop the tracker from gathering the data.

"This extension is designed to automatically protect your privacy from third-party trackers that load invisibly when you browse the Web," the EFF says.

Sometimes third-party domains provide content that is necessary for the website to function. In these cases the extension will allow it, but block it from gathering cookies, the EFF says.

The extension uses algorithms to determine whether a domain is tracking a user. Because it's still in beta, it probably won't catch them all.

There are a number of other privacy-aimed software apps for Web browsing, such as Disconnect, AdBlock Plus and Ghostery.

But with its tool, the EFF says it aims to provide something that works automatically without custom configuration.

A built-in browser tool for blocking third-party tracking was conceived years ago by privacy advocates, called "Do Not Track." The setting is currently in the major browsers, but turning it on doesn't do much, because many companies don't honor it.

The EFF said companies blocked by Privacy Badger can unblock themselves by committing to respect people's Do Not Track requests.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyinternetFacebookspywareInternet-based applications and servicesElectronic Frontier Foundation

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?