Pretend you are from the EU to benefit from GDPR
Trans Europa Express is a brand new extension for the Firefox web browser that pretends that Internet users are from the European Union to give them some of the privacy protections that websites give users from the EU.
The General Data Protection Regulation attempts to improve privacy of users from the European Union and European Economic Area. Sites, for example, are required to get consent from users for various data collection practices.
Most sites and companies have implemented the functionality for users from the EU only. If you visit a site from outside the EU, you may not notice a change at all.
One way to overcome this was to use a VPN connection to a European server. This would reveal an IP address from the EU to the site which in turn would give users more control over their privacy provided that the site in question implemented the functionality and did not block users from the EU outright.
Trans Europa Express
Trans Europa Express is a new extension for the Firefox browser that you may use as an alternative. It tries to convince websites and services that you are from the EU even though you may not be from it by setting Google Adsense advertisements to non-personalized mode.
- It tries to detect special scripts that websites may use to give European users control over privacy settings and data collecting.
- If it finds such a script, it attempts to call the scripts to enable European-style protections.
The extension detects googletag instances only right now and attempts to set them to non-personalized advertisement when it discovers them on sites.
It should be clear that the method is not as effective as using a VPN connection as it focuses on Google's method exclusively right now and won't catch other scripts.
Trans Europa Express is an interesting extension despite its limitation right now. I guess that you can achieve the same level of privacy protection only if you'd enable VPN or proxy functionality as there is probably no other option to make websites display the privacy prompts to users from outside the EU.
It is possible, however, that options for additional scripts will be added to the extension eventually to make it more useful and catch a wider range of scripts and work on more sites.
I know that not everyone wants to pay for it, (and you should never really use a “free” one), but by far….my preferred way to deal with this surely has to be a VPN.
I’d rather that, than yet another extension. And of course, that extension is likely to be collecting data itself in the first place!
If I was the NSA, or any other three-letter governmental agency with huge interest in people’s data, and I had pretty much unlimited budget allocation, which I woul, and I’d clearly know that everyone who wants to run away from me would go use a VPN, then I would.. wait for it.. fund VPN providers, all over the world, free and paid. People would hand me over their data, wrapped in gift packaging and tied with a nice bow :) I think my idea would work very well.
I do agree on the fact that in order to take advantage of this GDPR thing, the best way would be to actually appear as if you’re coming from within EU. I think just forcing that popup to appear, regardless of your choice, it may or it may not be respected if you’re outside the EU. Especially after these big companies find (and it will happen sooner than later) about this breach, expect it not to be respected, regardless of how things are right now.
@ Yuliya – I don’t agree. I understand what you say, and respect your great right to be cautious. But far far too many people now, use a VPN for what you say to be accurate.
And in the end, I do absolutely nothing of illegality, so in the end….what would really be the problem?
VPN enjoys a certain level of ubiquity now….and many VPNs mix up greatly, IP addresses into one big messy pool. It costs serious resources to find that needle in a haystack, unless you are coming from the angle that ALL ….VPN providers are lying about logging, and would put their reputations on the line in that way.
There is no “free lunch”…..so we have to make the best of what is available, pay our money and make our choices.
Be paranoid, yes….but keep a little sense of reason too.
“But far far too many people now, use a VPN for what you say to be accurate.”
I don’t see the relationship or if I did I’d say that this is more an argument in favor of VPN hacking than in favor of VPN anonymity : data collecting likes where people are.
“And in the end, I do absolutely nothing of illegality, so in the endâ€¦.what would really be the problem?”
The problem would be that you are legally hiding and that intelligence is excited by hiders like a vampire by blood.
I wouldn’t use a VPN unless I was absolutely and totally convinced of its honesty and reliability.
@Tom – I do understand the arguments on both sides. I know that you do not use VPN.
My view is that while far from perfect, I still fall on the side of VPN usage. There is still some privacy, and definitely security to be had.
And ultimately, since I have no unlawful purpose for its’ usage, I can live with the theoretical (in my view tiny) chance that someone is interested in my rather boring browsing history. The flows of data are immense, after all.
Imperfect world. As I said, we make the best of it, pay our money and make our choices!
@Tom – Tom….I also have Tor browser, and could use that over VPN too. Then I would be truly “lost”.
I also have, as you know…because we’ve chatted about it – a Virtual Machine, that “also” has Tor, and I can then run a VPN-within-a-VPN.
But do you know what? I hardly ever touch Tor, apart from keeping it updated. I just have nothing to hide, but I don’t want to make it easy for the snoopers.
The mix I describe above, of “two VPNs” within each other + the use of Tor would be in my view, a pretty high level of obfuscation. But why bother? It would be too slow for one thing!
The FBI (a 3 letter, tax funded, government agency) hacked Tor using Metasploit back in about 2012 to catch child-porn site users. If one of the world’s intelligence agencies really wants to see what you’re doing, there’s a good chance they’re going to see it – no matter how obfuscated you make it. However, I agree with you. If you’re not doing anything illegal it’s hard to justify the hit on your system. Unless of course someone is trying to adopt your identity to make you responsible for some nefarious deed. The more I learn about computers the more paranoid I become. OOOOooooo!
The FBI Used the Web’s Favorite Hacking Tool to Unmask Tor Users
“would go use a VPN, then I would.. wait for it.. fund VPN providers, all over the world, free and paid”
Completely agree and I assume it’s been already happening a lot. Despite all this I am using a paid VPN for a) encryption and b) bypassing global restriction. I don’t have the illusion that I can block tax funded spying, but it gives a little more security.
I’m sure that some of that goes on, but it shouldn’t make you avoid using VPNs. Unless you have special needs, stopping corporate surveillance is even more important than stopping government surveillance (and, in many nations, governments mostly buy their surveillance data from corporations anyway).
Even if VPNs didn’t help at all against government surveillance, the security/privacy-minded should be using them anyway.
Creative tech and a funny name referring to the once the famous TEE. Nice.
Why not just use an adblocker? Even Privacy Badger will do since it contains the option to block Google trackers.
Would be nice if there were some examples of this extension actually working in the article, but thanks for mentioning about this addon.
I tested the site derspiegel.de using a vpn, once from USA and once from Germany. Using uBlock Origin I saw the difference. Using a VPN/GY source just 2 trackers appeared. Using a VPN/USA source 29 trackers appeared. I’m speechless!
BTW, why do I have to agree to your privacy terms to comment?
Because users need to give explicit consent. I don’t like it at all, but that is how it is.
Because when you comment you store some personal data on the Ghacks server (i.e. your name, your email address). And consent for your data to be processed is the essence of GDPR.
Meeuh, Tor Browser for the win! (only way to have privacy in this world)
“The bulk of the funding for Tor’s development has come from the federal government of the United States, initially through the Office of Naval Research and DARPA.”
Yes, TOR was originally developed by the US government. The purpose was to allow US spies and agitators against governments the US disapproves of to have a measure of protection. It’s still funded and used this way.
However, the TOR software itself is developed in the open, is open source, and has an awful lot of non-government engineers working on and vetting it. You can’t ever be 100% sure that anything is trustworthy, but TOR is probably as close as you can get.
Who is running the exit nodes:
– 3 letter Agencies
From about 950 nodes 563 are from GB and 141 US…
Exit node admins can capture ALL TRAFFIC even usernames and passwords.
@Privacy by design instead of by policy
Yup, Tor Browser is solid option for privacy. You can also run it in a VPN.
with the advent of GDPR, netizens are finally being treated with respect
Many American sites that don’t live up to GDPR now effectively block Europeans. Even known news sites do this.
What could come next……….are lots of paywalls.
Falling revenue from tracked-advertising, worries of sites’ falling foul of GDPR compliance….and just putting up paywalls instead, as a result of wishing to recoup lost revenue.
Personally, I think that would be a far preferable thing over what we have now.
i think since i’m using uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, Privacy Possum, Decentreyles, Canvas Blocker, Third Party isolation and doing a few other things, this extension Trans Europa Express is kind of pointless since i’m blocking all this tracking garbage anyway right ?
Or is it better to use it because of some other thing, such as the script running thing that Martin talked about in his other GDPR article – https://www.ghacks.net/2018/05/29/fun-facts-about-gdpr-and-its-effect-on-the-internet/ or something else ?
Hi rick a.
Yes, unless you have whitelisted those sites, uBo will block those scripts. An old addon called IPFuck was great in faking your location. Local proxies can help. Privoxy can be used to add some HTTP Headers.