As we surf the Web, our browsing habits and personal data are tracked by third parties, often without our knowledge or our permission. As consumers, we want it all. We want products and services that meet our needs and solve our problems, but we also want our privacy. Collusion is a tool that allows us to evaluate our browsing privacy by showing us who receives our data. After identifying our trackers, we can block them.
Collusion was initially developed for Mozilla Firefox and then improved upon for Google Chrome and Safari. It shows the spider-web of interactions between companies and trackers by revealing their identities in a real time graph of our data’s movement from sites to trackers. We begin with an empty map that quickly fills with circles as we move from site to site and click the Collusion icon in our browser toolbar. Blue glowing circles represent sites we go to directly. Sites that place tracking cookies on our computers show up in red. Some circles are harmless as they simply allow us to comment on articles, for example, but others may be worthy of paying attention to such as Social Media Sites that sell our data to advertisers. Hovering over a circle provides more detailed information and then we have the option to block the tracking, if we choose to. Watching our privacy being invaded on the graph can be a shocking and revealing experience – at least it was for me!
We may dislike the concept of being tracked, however, it’s not a good idea to block all tracking. Tracking cookies can enhance our online experience and save us time and effort. For example, Amazon suggests relevant products based on what we have looked at on their site thereby providing a helpful and efficient shopping experience. Tracking cookies store information such as log in and credit card information which can be convenient on a private computer but dangerous on a shared one.
Install the Collusion Add-on to instantly see what’s going on with your browsing privacy. Click here to get Collusion for Chrome and Collusion for Safari. Select the appropriate option for your browser.
Click here to download Collusion for Firefox
For a helpful tutorial from the creators of Collusion for Chrome and Safari, view the video below.
Until next time,… Stay Cyber Safe.
ADDITION Feb 28, 2013: Firefox Users – Try out Ghostery for Firefox V.2.9.1. for a comprehensive tracking and blocking add-on that seems to have more to offer than Mozilla’s Collusion. Please share your insight.