A while ago, I noticed a quite popular extension for Google Chrome called “Disconnect”. I do use Chrome on occasion, but mostly Firefox, and I was disappointed that Disconnect wasn’t available for it. What Disconnect does is automatically prevent popular websites (such as Facebook and Google) from “tracking” you. This sort of thing is done by a LOT of websites that install “tracking code”. Often they’ll be using Google Analytics or something else that most people would consider “harmless”, but the whole point is that places you visit are matched to your IP address (ie your unique identity on the web, which in the US will also pinpoint your geographical location) and sent to websites which record and use that information. I intensely dislike that idea. If I’m on widgets.com, I don’t want Google to know that I was there at 7:15am on Wednesday 1st June 2011. If I’m on bollocks.com, I don’t want Facebook to be “told” that IP address such-and-such has visited that site.
So I was understandably thrilled when I heard about Disconnect. Even more thrilled when I discovered recently that it has become available for Firefox (finally!)
And overjoyed beyond belief when I discovered through the feedback comments for Disconnect that there is another addon out there called Ghostery which does even more than Disconnect to protect your privacy online. Their website succinctly sums up what it does: Ghostery sees the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons. Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity. After showing you who’s tracking you, Ghostery also gives you a chance to learn more about each company it identifies. How they describe themselves, a link to their privacy policies, and a sampling of pages where we’ve found them are just a click away. Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes. Ghostery puts your web privacy back in your hands.
I recommend you install one of these addons as soon as possible. Google, Facebook, Yahoo and ad networks don’t need to know about you. Especially without your permission. They’re both completely free. My vote is for Ghostery, mainly because it has more capabilities.