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  1. #1
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    Privacy Badger helps block Web-activity tracking




    ON SECURITY


    Privacy Badger helps block Web-activity tracking


    By Patrick Marshall
    Tired of being deluged with advertisements for chainsaws wherever you go on the Web, just because you searched for one on Home Depot's site?
    Or ads for shoes, dishware, pet food, or whatever? You can't totally eliminate Web tracking, but you can reduce it.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/on-security/privacy-badger-helps-block-web-activity-tracking (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    "More problematic: browsers don’t offer tools for specifically blocking tracking cookies."

    Isn't that exactly what easily installed and automatically updated Tracking Protection Lists do in Internet Explorer?

    Bruce

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    "More problematic: browsers don’t offer tools for specifically blocking tracking cookies."

    Isn't that exactly what easily installed and automatically updated Tracking Protection Lists do in Internet Explorer?

    Bruce
    Sadly Bruce, they do not. The Lists tend to get out of date awfully quickly, and they rely on voluntary industry compliance. Again, the advertising industry is not noted for respecting opt-out requests, and there is a tendency for one tracking entity to use multiple aliases. The IE lists just can't seem to keep pace with all the new aliases cropping up all the time at popular websites.

    Also sadly, the Federal Do Not Track Registry failed to pass the Congress.

    Badger and DoNotTrackMe have for me a far better "track" record (pun intended) than pre-set list-based policies or settings. The settings in Firefox, Chrome and IE do not block quite a few families of trackers, while Ghostery, DNTM and Badger do block most, and you can add more to the blocked list through the extensions' interfaces (drop-down graphical menus). I find myself adding five or six new trackers to the blocked lists for each extension nearly every week or so. It's annoying, but not as annoying as being targeted and tracked and spammed everywhere I browse.

    Also unfortunately, many sites will not allow signing in, commenting or watching embedded videos if trackers are blocked. Temporarily unblocking a limited subset of trackers will often overcome this limitation, without completely abandoning privacy protections for the site. Extensions rather than block lists offer much better flexibility and control over exactly what exceptions are allowed, where and for how long. Clearing cookies in the browser does not usually reset extension preferences.

    But keeping up to date and picking out the necessary exceptions for even a few sites, is a real chore sometimes.

    Badger is also working on blocking Google's newest tracking technique, which is not cookie-based.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2014-10-27 at 15:15.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Sadly Bruce, they do not. The Lists tend to get out of date awfully quickly, and they rely on voluntary industry compliance. Again, the advertising industry is not noted for respecting opt-out requests, and there is a tendency for one tracking entity to use multiple aliases. The IE lists just can't seem to keep pace with all the new aliases cropping up all the time at popular websites.
    IE Tracking Protection Lists are automatically updated and do not rely on voluntary industry compliance or the advertising industry respecting opt-out requests.


    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Also sadly, the Federal Do Not Track Registry failed to pass the Congress.
    Which would be one reason Microsoft released Tracking Protections Lists nearly four years ago.


    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Badger and DoNotTrackMe have for me a far better "track" record (pun intended) than pre-set list-based policies or settings. The settings in Firefox, Chrome and IE do not block quite a few families of trackers, while Ghostery, DNTM and Badger do block most, and you can add more to the blocked list through the extensions' interfaces (drop-down graphical menus). I find myself adding five or six new trackers to the blocked lists for each extension nearly every week or so. It's annoying, but not as annoying as being targeted and tracked and spammed everywhere I browse.
    IE's Tracking Protection Lists (which are not pre-set, but automatically updated) can also be edited manually, but if "Your Personalized List" is enabled it can automatically block content from providers used at multiple visited sites (which can be set from 3 to 30):

    Edit or Create Tracking Protection List in Internet Explorer


    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Also unfortunately, many sites will not allow signing in, commenting or watching embedded videos if trackers are blocked. Temporarily unblocking a limited subset of trackers will often overcome this limitation, without completely abandoning privacy protections for the site. Extensions rather than block lists offer much better flexibility and control over exactly what exceptions are allowed, where and for how long. Clearing cookies in the browser does not usually reset extension preferences.
    Temporarily enabling and disabling Tracking Protection in IE is as easy as clicking an icon in the address bar.


    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    But keeping up to date and picking out the necessary exceptions for even a few sites, is a real chore sometimes.
    The automatic, built-in protections of IE sound much easier.


    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Badger is also working on blocking Google's newest tracking technique, which is not cookie-based.
    Microsoft issued a special "Stop Google Tracking" Tracking Protection List 2.5 years ago:

    The premise of Tracking Protection in IE9 [and IE10/11] is that tracking servers never have the opportunity to use cookies or any other mechanism to track the user if the user never sends anything to a tracking server. This logic underlies why Tracking Protection blocks network requests entirely. This new technology approach is currently undergoing the standardization process at the W3C.


    The Electronic Frontier Foundation recommended IE's Tracking Protection Lists when they were introduced:

    Conclusion: DNT and TPLs work well together
    The Do Not Track header and user-controllable privacy blacklists are complementary innovations, and we're going to need both of them if we're going to succeed in moving from the privacy-intrusive web of 2009 to the privacy-friendly web of the future. Do Not Track is mostly a policy tool, whereas blacklists are basically privacy enhancing technologies. And fortunately, they each have the capability to help in situations where the other is weaker. Do Not Track is a good way to give consumers some meaningful privacy choices in a web where the line between useful functionality and tracking mechanisms has become increasingly blurred — and it won't have to break websites to achieve that. But TPLs and other blacklists are a self-enforcing fallback that we can use to protect ourselves against websites that refuse to respect consumers' preferences.



    And the author of the article in post #1, Patrick Marshall, recommended IE Tracking Protection Lists in his last article on the subject over a year ago:

    You can expect better results, however, by activating IE 10′s Tracking Protection. Click Tools/Tracking Protection, and the browser’s add-on manager will open with Tracking Protection highlighted. When I did so, I found a single, disabled entry labeled “Your Personalized List.” I highlighted that item and clicked the Enable button down in the lower-right corner of the Manage Add-ons window.

    Next, I deselected “Your Personalized List by clicking a blank area just below it, which popped up a new link, Get a Tracking Protection List online. Clicking the link took me to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Gallery, where I was offered a choice of additional and much more extensive, third-party lists. Clicking the Add button for Abine Standard added this list to Tracking Protection (see Figure 10).

    Enabling Tracking Protection: IE's Tracking Protection feature offers a quick way to download and integrate third-party tracking protection lists.

    Once you’ve enabled tracking protection lists, IE 10 will block all data from going out to those sites.


    You're being followed! How to block Web tracking


    I just find it odd that he now says, "More problematic: browsers don’t offer tools for specifically blocking tracking cookies." when IE has done that for four years.


    Bruce

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    Well, Bruce, it appears once again that you have one preferred way of getting things done, and I have a different preferred way.

    Difference is, my way is also applicable to non-IE browsers, and non-Windows OSes, like Linux and Android.

    I prefer not to have to use different methods to protect my different OSes and different browsers.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Well, Bruce, it appears once again that you have one preferred way of getting things done, and I have a different preferred way.

    Difference is, my way is also applicable to non-IE browsers, and non-Windows OSes, like Linux and Android.

    I prefer not to have to use different methods to protect my different OSes and different browsers.
    Yes, but I didn't tell you that your way doesn't work, without any practical experience of it.

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