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Building A Better Browser With Firefox: Stop Tracking And Add Privacy

LuculentOct 16, 2016, 5:17:47 PM

It’s time to face reality and own up to the fact that if you’re browsing online, you’re being tracked. This is how various companies bring products and services directly to your monitor. Google for example links your searches together with your location and the places you visit, so they can provide you with products and promotions they think you might be interested in. Search Amazon for a cell phone. When you visit another website serving ads by Amazon, not only will you see advertisements for the cell phone you searched, but tablets and accessories as well (related products).

It doesn’t matter where you surf on the ‘net, you’re being tracked by companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and many others that gather your information; building a profile on you; and target their efforts so as to make their services appealing, specifically tailored to you as an individual – that’s marketing.

Large sums of data is collected from a Google search: the time and date, what browser you’re using, your location, your IP, the keywords in your search, where you went after searching those keywords and how long you remained at that site…etc. Some sites even go so far as to track your mouse movements.

More importantly, make no mistake of it, if all these companies have all this data on you as an individual, so does the government. Never forget that governments world-wide share these informations as well.

Internet tracking and personal data collection is a reality indeed, and it’s your responsibility to provide countermeasures to invasive companies and governments. Below, I will show you what I do to lock down the Firefox browser to counter these ever-persistent data collections, as best as I know how.

The fist thing is not to adding an add-on to Firefox, but to use DuckDuckGo as your default search engine. DuckDuckGo does what Google won’t when it comes to your privacy, they respect it. DuckDuckGo does not use your IP address, and they don’t track. DuckDuckGo also provides streamlined searches to get you the information you actually want; but that’s another issue entirely. A good alternative to DuckDuckGo is StartPage.

The fist add-on you should consider using is HTTPS-Everywhere. HTTPS is a secure traffic encryption protocol. This is generally the protocol used when you buy something or do online banking. HTTPS-Everywhere lets you use the HTTPS protocol wherever you surf. It’s not perfect, but works very well, and is updated regularly when needed.

The Privacy Badger add-on stops advertisers and third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what you look at.  If an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission, Privacy Badger automatically blocks that advertiser from loading any more content in your browser.  To the advertiser, it’s like you suddenly disappeared.

CanvasBlocker allows users to prevent websites from using the Javascript <canvas> API to fingerprint them. Users can choose to block the <canvas> API entirely on some or all websites (which may break some websites) or just block or fake its fingerprinting-friendly readout API.

uBlock Origin is more than an ad-blocker. Flexible and light on resources, uBlock Origin blocks ads, trackers and malware sites.

Finally NoScript is a free open-source plug-in for Firefox. It provides protection by allowing JavaScript, Java, Flash and other plugins to be executed only by trusted web sites that you choose, and blocks the rest.

I suggest looking at each add-on closely to become somewhat familiar with them before installation. However all the add-ons mentioned are pretty straight forward, NoScipt can be a bit of a pain till its all set up. The rest of them offer quick walk-through set-ups, or are simply install and go. PrivacyBadger, uBlock Origin, and HTTPS-Everywhere might be the first you consider using to deal with ads and tracking straight off.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is how I set up my browser to deal with trackers, ads, and various other security crud we come in contact with daily while surfing the web. There may be different plugins, and other solutions, but this is what works best for me. In any event, this should be enough to get you familiar with various tools to combat tracking and ads, and increase your privacy through you web browser.

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