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    CDT guest post at Wired: Improve Your Family’s Online Privacy With Plugins

    Cyrus Nemati, Web Producer at the Center for Democracy and Technology, writes about protecting privacy with Web browser plugins.

    What Are Browser Plug-ins?

    Browser plug-ins are any sort of extension of the browser’s capability. There are plug-ins that protect privacy, plug-ins that tell you the weather, and there’s even a plug-in that makes your browser yell “Stop! Hammertime!” every time you hit the “stop” button on your browser. It’s not possible to stay 100% secure or private with a standard browser install, so I introduce plug-ins to my browser to add that capability.

    Who’s Watching Us?

    My three main plug-ins are NoScript, a script-blocker; Ghostery which allows me to view and block analytics tools; and Cookie Monster, a cookie-management plug-in. They reveal a very different Internet from the one most people are used to. […]

    Most websites these days have web analytics packages that can monitor your browsing habits on that particular website. These analytics packages can be passive, simply monitoring traffic levels within a time period, or they can be extremely aggressive, perhaps tracking how long you spent at each page, where you went after visiting that page, or how often you visited over the course of a few months… or even years. […]

    Lucky for us, Ghostery makes it very easy to block these analytics packages.

    Most of these analytics packages place cookies on your browser so they can keep track of you wherever you go, but Cookie Monster makes it simple to just toss your cookies, so to speak. […]

    The truth is, about half the time I visit a new website, I end up too frustrated to bother setting my plug-ins to render it properly. If I’m lucky, I end up with some half-formed beast of a site that’s unpleasant to navigate. Inevitably, I’ll end up navigating away to another site that I trust and have already opened up my browser to. It’s quite possible that I’m missing some really intriguing stuff out there, but it will never penetrate my thick privacy shell. For many of us, this sort of inconvenience while browsing just isn’t worth it.

    Our choices are rather rotten right now: either protect your privacy with a crippled browser, or give it up for the better user experience. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Facebook users have done an incredible job demanding, and in many cases, getting more privacy from Facebook.

    One Response to “CDT guest post at Wired: Improve Your Family’s Online Privacy With Plugins”

    1. Surfing Anonymously Says:

      Really great info. Many people don’t realize the safety they can achieve from putting safety measures in place (or how much they might need them). I don’t think they realize the dangers hiding in many websites out there and how simple innocent surfing can make them a victim.

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