Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Do Not Track Plus

Meerkats

So if yesterday’s post made you a bit edgy about having your browsing habits tracked by faceless third party corporations and you want to do something about it, you can do far worse than install the free Do Not Track Plus browser extension, which is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer users.

Do Not Track Plus, as the name implies, is an improved version of Do Not Track, which is something that Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari users can enable to indicate to advertisers that they do not want to be tracked. Unfortunately, advertisers don’t have to honour it and most don’t, so it’s rather toothless; plus the different browsers implement it in different ways and Google Chrome doesn’t implement it all (but then Google is one of the web’s biggest ad networks, remember).

So where Do Not Track Plus differs is that it forcibly opts you out of tracking by blocking the scripts and web beacons that allow third parties to track you. Sharing buttons like Facebook’s Like, Twitter’s Tweet and Google’s +1 are replaced with static versions that still work when clicked, but do not pull live data. And otherwise invisible scripts from third parties simply aren’t loaded. You may find, therefore, that not only is your privacy boosted by installing this extension, but that it actually boosts the speed of your browsing as your browser no longer has to pull in small JavaScript files from all over the web.

The extension also gives you a nice little toolbar button, which, when clicked, tells you exactly what it’s blocked, and the option to selectively enable any portion that it has disabled. You’ll be able to see which companies wanted to track you, but now can’t. In particular, you’ll see how companies like comSCORE get their data.

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