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A Primer on Web Browser Privacy Tools

The biggest contenders in the Web browser wars have been tripping over themselves to offer new privacy protections for users, and that's largely a good thing. But making sense of these features is a bit like trying to compare mobile phone plans from various phone companies: Unless you have the features compared side-by-side, making that comparison can be a tall order.

Happily, the Center for Democracy & Technology, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group in Washington, has published a clear and concise guide to help consumers understand and take advantage of these new privacy features.


The white paper examines the privacy features now built into four Web browsers - Firefox 3,
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2, Google Chrome, and Safari 3. The paper also looks at privacy add-ons, including Stealther for a Firefox privacy mode, CookieSafe for cookie controls in Firefox, AdBlock Plus (must-have, in my option) for object controls in Firefox, and PithHelmet for object controls in Safari.

The CDT says Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla all verified the accuracy of the claims made in the report about their browser software. Check out the report at this link here (PDF).

By Brian Krebs  |  October 22, 2008; 3:11 PM ET
Categories:  Safety Tips  
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Thanks to the CDT, this report accurately details the privacy features offered by various browsers and what users can control. But what about things users can't easily control - are they important? I would argue that the most insidious forms of privacy abuse has to do with web sites and advertisers collecting, storing, and utilizing users' personally identifiable information for behavioral targeting/profit without their permission. I'm referring to collecting users' IP addresses and performing the decisioning on how to treat that customer on the 'server' side where their personal IP address (or MAC address) has been grabbed and stored. This is commonplace behavior from almost EVERY on-line advertiser in existance and represents as much a threat to privacy as the "browser controls" issue.

Posted by: Mark Smith, COO AnchorFree | October 22, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

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