How to stop online tracking
Keep an eye on cookies and use the https protocol for additional computer safety.
Mon, Oct 29 2012 at 12:02 PM
Online targeting for advertising is becoming more sophisticated. For instance, Facebook is currently testing Facebook Exchange, which lets Facebook approved partners show you ads for products that you almost bought on their websites — the moment you return to Facebook. This type of advertising can get pretty annoying. You didn't buy that item for a reason, so why should you have to see it again?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a consumer privacy advocacy group, posted a simple, 4-step guide to stopping online tracking, because merely activating the "Do Not Track" feature in your Web browser is not enough. Microsoft has made Do Not Track the default in its IE10 browser, which began shipping this week in Windows 8. But Microsoft has cautioned that no website is required to honor the no-tracking signal, and Yahoo was the first site to announce last week that it would not recognize the signals from IE10 users. [Read more: Reality Check: State of Do Not Track ]
Install ad blocker with extras
First, you'll need an ad blocker with extra protection. EFF recommends installing Ad Block Plus, a free extension for Chrome, Firefox and IE9. In addition to blocking ads, Ad Block Plus can be extended with an "easy privacy" option that will block a variety of trackers.
Change cookie settings
Next, add a second layer of protection by changing your browser's cookies settings. This will prevent sites you visit from adding bits of code to collect information about sites you use and what you're doing — such as abandoning a shopping cart at check out.
The following directions apply to Chrome, but you can adjust other browsers in similar ways. Find Chrome's Settings menu, which is indicated by a set of three parallel lines or a gear icon in the top-right corner of your browser. Choose Settings, scroll down to Advanced Settings and select Privacy. Click Content Settings and then click "Keep local data only until I quit my browser" and "Block third-party cookies and site data."
Third step, install EFF's extension Referer Control (a phrase that has been misspelled since its inception by system programmers, so don't blame EFF). This program lets you turn off the referrers mechanism. Turned off by default in browsers, referrers allows personal information to be released to websites. After installing, scroll down and find "default referer for all other sites" and click Block.
Finally, install another browser add-on, HTTPS Everywhere, also from EFF. The extension expands coverage for HTTPS by encrypting all of your computer's signals, so that outside parties can't snoop or tamper with your private conversations with websites.
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