With your every online move been snooped on these days, more and more tools are being developed to protect you against spying. The Electronic Frontier Foundation worked hard on their open source tool to help citizens retain some privacy while browsing the World Wide Web. What they came up with is called Privacy Badger, a web browser add-on that will block any third-party tracking automatically by pro-actively analyzing and scanning for any type of tracking.
Privacy Badger does not collect any data from your browsing. It does not create a blacklist of any sort either, ensuring that even the add-on itself does not have a tracking history. Instead of keeping a database, Privacy Badger will effectively block any cookies based on whether or not it performs data collection without your consent. Cookies will often collect information such as pages you visit, location, computer system and software information. Based on that type of cookie action, Privacy Badger will block them for you.
So why not turn cookies off on your browser? Well, often that will cause issues when loading various websites, and there is such a thing as necessary and useful cookies that are not out to prowl on your data. For that reason, properly coded apps such as Privacy Badger are popular, because they successfully block the tracking cookies without disrupting websites or the flow and speed loading of pages.
You will notice that some ads will no longer display while having Privacy Badger activated. Although it is not an ad blocker, it was actually based off Adblock Plus and was modified into a tracking blocker instead. Since some ads also contain tracking cookies and such that would undermine your privacy, the add-on takes care of blocking those as well.
Privacy Badger alpha is available for Chrome or Firefox. Once installed, you can track what it has blocked during your browsing using a color coded system. Red is used to mark blocked trackers, Yellow means no cookies or referrers are sent to the tracker and Green means no tracking detected. You can override the add-on and turn it off for a specific website if you wanted to by clicking on the Privacy Badger icon.
One place where we think Privacy Badger is not 100% protecting you from tracking is the rather large whitelist of popular websites they chose to exclude. They did not want the big popular sites to have any kind of issues. After all, some things can stop working due to blocked cookies even with the best software, and with this one being open sourced but just barely out in alpha mode, this was the choice they made. However, it is said that this list is possibly going to be removed due to many of the sites not wanting to request user consent for tracking.
We believe this is a good tactic for tools like Privacy Badger to apply. If security and privacy tools such as this one grow in popularity. The larger players will have to think twice about not wanting to request consent to track or to even track their visitors at all.
Although in early phase, we really like the add-on and being open sourced can help ensure an effective and continual development. If you already use Adblock Plus, Disconnect, Ghostery or a combination of those, there is no need to change to Privacy Badger at the moment, unless you really don’t want there to be a blacklist database used for previously blocked trackers.