Wired has highlighted several browser extensions that “are a simple first step in improving your online privacy.” Other steps to take include adding a privacy-first browser and VPN to further mask your web activity. An anonymous reader shares the report:
Privacy Badger is one of the best options for blocking online tracking in your current browser. For a start, it’s created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a US-based non-profit digital rights group that’s been fighting online privacy battles since 1990. It’s also free. Privacy Badger tracks all the elements of web pages you visit – including plugins and ads placed by external companies. If it sees these appearing across multiple sites you visit then the extension tells your browser not to load any more of that content.
DuckDuckGo is best-known for its anonymous search engine that doesn’t collect people’s data. DuckDuckGo also makes an extension for Chrome. The Privacy Essentials extension blocks hidden third-party trackers, showing you which advertising networks are following you around the web over time. The tool also highlights how websites collect data through a partnership with Terms of Service Didn’t Read and includes scores for sites’ privacy policies. It also adds its non-tracking search to Chrome.
The Ghostery browser extension blocks trackers and shows lists of which ones are blocked for each site (including those that are slow to load), allows trusted and restricted sites to be set up and also lets people you block ads. The main Ghostery extension is free but there’s also a paid for $49 per month subscription that provides detailed breakdowns of all trackers and can be used for analysis or research. There are Ghostery extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Opera.
Unlike other tools here, Adblock Plus is primarily marketed as an ad blocking tool – the others don’t necessarily block ads by default but aim to be privacy tools that may limit the most intrusive types of ads. Using an ad blocker comes with a different set of ethical considerations to tools that are designed to stop overly intrusive web tracking; ad blockers will block a much wider set of items on a webpage and this can include ads that don’t follow people around the web. Adblock Plus is signed up to the Acceptable Ads project that shows non-intrusive ads by default (although this can be turned off). On a privacy front Adblock Plus’s free extensions block third party trackers and allow for social media sharing buttons that send information back to their owners to be disabled.