Everyone is concerned about Internet search tracking and potential abuses of this private information. This post discusses tracking and how to stop it in each major browser.
What is Web Tracking?
“Tracking” refers to methods that websites, advertisers, ad networks, and others use to learn about your web browsing behavior. This includes information about what sites you visit and for how long; things you like, dislike, and comment on; what you search for; and what you buy. This information is shared with 3rd parties to show you ads, products, or services specifically targeted to you.
Here’s an example: after searching for “Pecan Pie” in Google, browsers show ads on the left side including: shopping for pecan pies, pie recipes, etc. The search told the advertising networks that you’re at least somewhat interested in pecan pies, and now the same advertisers will continue to display related ads for you.
Although there are a few ways of blocking targeted advertising, the browsers do it with what’s called a Do Not Track header. This header is like a flag that tells the website, its advertisers, and other content providers that you don’t want tracking. In theory, companies who see this flag will react to it by not targeting ads to you. In theory.
Problems with Do Not Track
Here’s the catch: websites don’t have to legally honor Do Not Track. Because it is voluntary roughly 99% of sites don’t follow Do Not Track. This is not for technical reasons – advertisers and websites simply want to make money by marketing their products.
A Better Way
Each major browser has a method of eliminating tracking with a few simple configuration steps – listed below. While this won’t completely eliminate ads or tracking, the changes will certainly help. We strongly urge you to address the tracking features, unless you want the ads or your surfing habits tracked!
1. Go to the Safari menu, and click “Preferences.”
2. Go to the “Advanced” tab on the right. It looks like a gear.
3. Check the box next to “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”
Click the box next to “Show Develop menu in menu bar”
4. Close out of Preferences. You should now see a new menu, “Develop,” at the top of your screen between “Bookmarks” and “Window.”
5. Click the new “Develop” menu, then click “Send Do Not Track HTTP Header.” You should see a check mark next to it when you’re done.
- Click the wrench icon on the browser toolbar.
- Select Settings.
- Click Show advanced settings.
- In the “Privacy” section, click Content settings.
- In the dialog that appears, scroll down to the “Location” section. Select your default permission for future location requests:
- Allow all sites to track my physical location: Select this option to let all sites automatically access your location.
- Ask me when a site tries to track my physical location: Select this option if you want Google Chrome to alert you whenever a site requests your location.
- Do not allow any site to track my physical location: Select this option to automatically deny site requests for your location.
Click Manage exceptions to remove previously-granted permissions for specific sites.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer supports Do Not Track through Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs for short). TPLs block content from sites that appear on the list. Once a user downloads a TPL, it’s automatically updated. Microsoft offers four sponsored lists maintained by Abine, EasyList, PrivacyChoice, and TRUSTe.
Contrary to what you might think, installing more TPLs won’t necessarily give you more protection. Because TRUSTe’s list actually allows a great deal of content, enabling the TRUSTe TPL alongside any other TPL will negate the protective effect of the second TPL in many cases. Read more about why more tracking protection isn’t always better.
1. With an IE window open, click the “Tools” button (it has a gear icon on it), point to “Safety,” and then click “Tracking Protection.”
2. In the Manage Add-On box that pops up, select “Your Personalized list” and then click “Enable.” This installs a list based on your browsing history.
The Do-not-track feature is turned off by default. To turn it on:
- At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP) and then click Options
- Select the Privacy panel.
- Check Tell websites I do not want to be tracked.
- Click OK to close the Options window
For more detailed information,
By Dion D. Shaw
Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs
Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.
Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed. Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions. Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.
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