The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched Privacy Badger 1.0, a tool to stop online tracking, late last week. As described on their website, Privacy Badger is “a browser extension that automatically blocks hidden trackers that would otherwise spy on your browsing habits as you surf the Web.”
Privacy Badger is currently available on Chrome and Firefox, and works by examining third party domains as users browse online. The tool looks to see if these third party domains are tracking the user. If they’re doing so on three or more sites, Privacy Badger will identify them as tracking and block the domain accordingly. Privacy Badger also works in conjunction with the Do Not Track policy, and “hopes to restore the semblance of private web browsing to the denizens of the Internet.”
The tool provides users visibility and control over their privacy online, particularly in regards to online advertising and the tracking these ads implement. As Golden Frog recently pointed out, this type of control over privacy is often lacking, as users don’t always realize what they are signing up for or what privacy they are relinquishing when using a free privacy service.
Privacy Badger is a refreshing announcement from a trusted organization. EFF rightly recognizes that Privacy Badger is similar to other privacy tools offered by Disconnect, Adblock Plus, Ghostery, but acknowledges these companies have “business models that we weren’t entirely comfortable with.” For example, Adblock Plus now allows ads from certain advertisers and forces users to opt-out. Ghostery logs trackers encountered by its users to presumably sells this information to advertisers (thankfully, users must opt-in).
Privacy Badger is a useful new tool, and also a good reminder that it’s essential to choose a trusted privacy company, examine their business model closely and evaluate their transparency.
To learn more about free providers that may actually be tracking you online, read our I Am Anonymous When I Use a VPN – 10 Myths Debunked article.