Privacy Badger: The Badger of Privacy
We think “Do Not Track” browser features and browser add-ons are worthless – they assume that everything and everyone is tracking you for evil purposes and thus they block everything regardless of who or what it is, who it is, even it may be beneficial.
Yes, indeed, we tells ya… sometimes cookies are good things, and sometimes tracking within a site/domain is a good thing because it ensures that you don’t get annoyed by seeing the same ads over and over. Sometimes cookies also ensure that you always see the most recently updated page content. So, assuming that all tracking is bad is like assuming all lawyers are blood suckers, right EB?
We think ad blockers leave a lot to be desired, too, for several reasons. First, they don’t block all types of advertisements – the most annoying usually creep through. Ad blockers block the simple ads like those on small mom and pop sites that depend on the pittance they receive from advertising; it helps pay the bills. We can’t speak for the giants like Adobe, Java, and other sites whose income is in the millions or billions who tack on unnecessary ads to make even more money. Boo!
This leaves me floundering around for a creative segue, but alas my aging mind fails me and now we’re just going to blurt it out. So, here ya go!
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Do you know what the Electronic Frontier Foundation is? Well, if you don’t, the EFF is a privacy watchdog looking out for your privacy and trying to protect your freedoms on the Internet. They’ve been deeply involved in the fight to keep Net Neutrality. It was a good fight, but the EFF doesn’t have the money that AT&T, Version, Comcast, and other big companies who want to get rid of Net Neutrality do. Big money won and the Net Neutrality rules that have kept these companies responsible to their customers and prevented them from throttling bandwidth and stopped them from steering customers to sites they make the most money from or whose opinions they agree with. EFF still fights on, but unless a miracle occurs, Net Neutrality will soon be gone.
But nay! Let us not wander off deeper into the realm of Internet freedom and privacy – or on the work that the Electronic Frontier Foundation does. I know you have an inquiring mind, and you’ll want to bone learn all about the EFF… so here you go — read all about them here.
We’ve discovered a promising privacy tool that is a project of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). It’s called Privacy Badger – think of it as the smartest, most evolved anti-tracking tool ever invented. It takes not the easy road of blocking everything just because. It takes the intellectual road of blocking only the kind of tracking that most invades your privacy. Those shameless ads and cookies follow you from site to site and from domain to domain as you traverse the Internet. These trackers might even follow you to your grave if you’re not careful. [JUST KIDDING!]
So, it’s not like most of those dumb, old, “do not track” thingies that block everything just to make sure it stops the bad things. Nope! Rather than one of those dumb old programs, Privacy Badger is a smart do-not-track thingy and sometimes ad-blocker. Smart people know (right EB?) that some tracking enhances your Web experience. And we can tell you from experience, most of us need all the enhancements we can get.
And before we go any further with this – if you’re using Internet Explorer, I’m sorry to say, you’re going to have to pass on Privacy Badger. It does not work with Internet Explorer.
But, if you’re using Chrome, Firefox, or Opera – prepare to rejoice! There’s good news for you ahead.
Here are some tantalizing excerpts from the Privacy Badger Web site, which we have meticulously hand-picked for your consumption.
The link to download Privacy Badger is at the bottom of this article – however, I am duly aware that many of you, bored with my writing, have already googled it and found it without reading any more of my amazing prose.
However, the amazing information I have gleaned from the Privacy Badger Web site and posted below and may indeed open your bored eyeballs and pique your interest:
What is Privacy Badger?
Privacy Badger is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web. 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.
How is Privacy Badger different to Disconnect, Adblock Plus, Ghostery, and other blocking extensions?
Privacy Badger was born out of our desire to be able to recommend a single extension that would automatically analyze and block any tracker or ad that violated the principle of user consent; which could function well without any settings, knowledge or configuration by the user; which is produced by an organization that is unambiguously working for its users rather than for advertisers; and which uses algorithmic methods to decide what is and isn’t tracking.
Although we like Disconnect, Adblock Plus, Ghostery and similar products (in fact Privacy Badger is based on the ABP code!), none of them are exactly what we were looking for. In our testing, all of them required some custom configuration to block non-consensual trackers. Several of these extensions have business models that we weren’t entirely comfortable with. And EFF hopes that by developing rigorous algorithmic and policy methods for detecting and preventing non-consensual tracking, we’ll produce a codebase that could in fact be adopted by those other extensions, or by mainstream browsers, to give users maximal control over who does and doesn’t get to know what they do online.
How does Privacy Badger work?
When you view a webpage, that page will often be made up of content from many different sources. (For example, a news webpage might load the actual article from the news company, ads from an ad company, and the comments section from a different company that’s been contracted out to provide that service.) Privacy Badger keeps track of all of this. If as you browse the web, the same source seems to be tracking your browser across different websites, then Privacy Badger springs into action, telling your browser not to load any more content from that source. And when your browser stops loading content from a source, that source can no longer track you. Voila!…”
“…What do the red, yellow and green sliders in the Privacy Badger menu mean?
The colors mean the following:
Green means there’s a third party domain, but it hasn’t yet been observed tracking you across multiple sites, so it might be unobjectionable. When you first install Privacy Badger every domain will be in this green state but as you browse, domains will quickly be classified as trackers.
Yellow means that the third party domain appears to be trying to track you, but it is on Privacy Badger’s cookie-blocking “whitelist” of third party domains that, when analyzed, seemed to be necessary for Web functionality. In that case, Privacy Badger will load content from the domain but will try to screen out third party cookies and supercookies from it.
Red means that content from this third party tracker has been completely disallowed.
Privacy Badger analyzes each third party’s behavior over time, and picks what it thinks is the right setting for each domain, but you can adjust the sliders if you wish…”
….In the near future we hope to release Privacy Badger for Opera, Safari, and Firefox Mobile. Unfortunately at the moment we cannot support Internet Explorer, since current version IE appears to be incompatible with how Privacy Badger works at a technical level. (With that said, if you would like to work on porting Privacy Badger to other platforms, please let us know!)…
So, for all those intrepid readers out there who have stuck with me all the way through this admirable screed, I shall reward you with a link whereby you can learn more about and/or download Privacy Badger.
And a couple more things: Privacy Badger is a browser extension on that does not work with Internet Explorer. But it does work wonderfully with Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera.
Consider replacing your ad blocker with Privacy Badger – sites like ours depend on the small amount of ad revenue we receive to help pay the bills. Privacy Badger does not summarily block every single ad – but it can help you avoid the trackers and the worst of the ads – and yet still allow cash-strapped small companies like ours to generate a little extra revenue from advertisements.