Block online tracking with Privacy Badger for Firefox and Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
May 2, 2014
Updated • Aug 22, 2018

Privacy Badger is a new browser extension for Firefox and Chrome by the EFF that can block spying ads and trackers on websites.

Tracking users is essential to online marketing today. Tracking occurs on the Internet in many forms, from third-party cookies that are set by advertising or tracking scripts to social media buttons and sophisticated tracking via Flash cookies, fingerprinting and other means.

Good news is that it is relatively easy to block many of the different tracking methods in web browsers. This is especially true for third-party tracking methods.

Think of first-party as the company or individual running the domain you are on, e.g., and third-parties as everything that is loaded from other web servers and sites when you visit the site.


Privacy Badger

The Privacy Badger extension has been designed to analyze websites that you visit in the browser it is installed in to detect and block contents that track you in"an objectionable, non-consensual manner".

The extension adds an icon to the browser which you can click on to display all detected tracking urls and scripts. For each url or script, it offers three states that you can change easily in the interface.

  • Allow the script to run.
  • Block cookies set by the script but allow it to run.
  • Block the script so that it cannot set cookies.

Privacy Badger will block scripts automatically if they appear to track without permission, for instance by using cookies with unique identifiers.

If a script identified this way is used for site functionality, e.g. the display of a map or fonts, then only its cookies will be blocked while the script continues to run.

According to the EFF, some advertisers and third-party domains will not be blocked by the extension if they make a "strong commitment" to respect Do Not Track.

While the extension works automatically, you can make changes to what is allowed to run and what is blocked manually at all times. These changes are remembered , so that the script or domain is still handled this way on consecutive visits and on other domains it is loaded on as well.

The page is automatically reloaded when you make a change to the configuration.

Note that the alpha release of Privacy Badger concentrates solely on third-party tracking. While you may be able to use it to block some first-party tracking attempts as well, for instance if a script is loaded from a subdomain, it is usually not possible to block all tracking on first-party sites using extensions.

Comparison to other blocking extensions

  • Disconnect 2 for Chrome - The browser extension blocks third-parties from tracking you. It blocks over 2000 third-party sites this way including major social networking scripts, and allows you to whitelist sites or individual scripts.
  • Do Not Disturb for Chrome - This extension concentrates on annoyances such as data miners and surveys rather than third-party scripts or domains. It is less likely to break a website while running as a consequence.
  • Ghostery - blocks trackers automatically and gives you control over what is allowed to run and what is not.
  • NoScript for Firefox - The Firefox extension blocks all third-party connections by default which in turn blocks the majority of ads and all third-party tracking attempts by default.

Closing Words

Privacy Badger does not display all third-party domains that a website connects to on load. Only those that it has identified as trackers are displayed by it so that you can block or allow them in the interface.

While that is a limitation, especially if you are used to work with NoScript which puts you in full control, it is easier to handle and maintain on the other hand.

The developers plan to integrate new features in future versions, including one that prevents browser fingerprinting. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

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