Category Archives: Anonymity

Two quick fixes to make your web browsing more anonymous

Two very easy ways to make your browsing more secure would be to install the following two extensions in Google Chrome:

Why?

  • These block (usually third-party) components which let companies log your browsing data. Check out the Collusion extension to see who knows what. This tries to stop companies easily doing things like (allegedly) increasing airfares and hotel prices based on your browsing history.
  • A nice side effect is that pages may load faster due their being less third-party components to load. Often, sites will add these components to the head of the page, before any other page elements to make sure that the advertising is given a priority to load over the actual page content. 

Caveats:

  • You can still be easily monitored on an ISP level, by a toolbar or if the website is selling off internally logged data.
  • Blocking components using these may “break” some websites by removing essential page-formatting style-sheets and scripts.
  • Blocking advertising from your favorite websites may reduce their advertising income and not let them be rewarded for their traffic/efforts. 

Hypocrisy:

  • I use “statcounter” on this website, which lets me see how many page views there are. StatCounter also aggregates all of its clients data into a very interesting public global stats page. In my opinion, its more useful and trustworthy than Google Analytics. You can block it if you’d like. 
  • Yes, I realize that as a data scientist who works with data not dissimilar to that being collected by these tracking scripts, I’m sort-of reducing the amount of data I get to analyze and putting myself out of a job. But its ethically essential to publish the fact that opt-out is available, for my own peace of mind and also to rebuke scare-mongers such as this ridiculous article.