Most Internet users do not know that every step they make on the Internet is likely tracked by one or multiple companies. Tracking can be loosely divided into a first party and third party group. First party tracking is usually connected to the generation of visitor statistics, and less about the individual user. Third party tracking on the other hand can often be linked to advertising companies who either use the information directly for advertisement or sell user profiles to other organizations and companies.
Technology today can be used to track users across domains. A study in 2009 saw Google on 92 of the top 100 sites followed by DoubleClick with 70 presences (which are now also Google owned) and Microsoft's Atlas with 60 occurrences.
Cookies, regular or Flash, are usually used to track users. These cookies can be accessed on all domains a company script is loaded on, which in the case of Google would mean the ability to track user movement on 92 of the top 100 domains in the world. While this percentage is surely going down a bit if the sample size increases, it is still common to be tracked across many web properties.
There are options available to not be tracked online. This includes clearing all cookies after or even during a browsing session, using private browsing modes, or installing extensions like the excellent NoScript to block third party scripts from running on a site.
TrackerBlock, available for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome offers another option. The program can make sure that you are not tracked across the web. It does so in a number of ways:
Click on an image to see how the settings and preferences look like in the Firefox web browser.
The program combines several anti-tracking options in one interface. Especially useful is the ability to write the opt-out cookies on the system, to clear Flash and HTML5 data storage that are often used for tracking, and to block advertising companies from reading or writing cookies on the system.
TrackerBlock can best be installed at the Privacy Choice website, as it is available there for all supported browsers. It is not really clear if the extension is available for other browsers as well. It is definitely available for Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.