I’m a Google and Chrome fan because of their tools and the simplicity and performance they adhere to—apart from search this is exactly what the company and it’s engineers have excelled at and has for many years. However untangling the browsers privacy issues to give you more personal freedom is a different art all together.
Google’s browser Chrome is lightweight, responsive and performs fantastically even when browsing many tabs at once. We can thank the Chromium Open Source project for giving users more stable, faster and safer web experiences.
One should realize that maybe Google Chrome’s policy is not good at all when you realize:
- If you use Google Chrome, Google will know every URL you type into the location bar.
- Google will know (almost) every partial URL you type into the location bar.
- Moreover, they will know every word or phrase you type into the location bar, even if you type it and then delete it before pressing enter.
- They will also know every word or phrase you type into the location bar, even if you type it and then delete it before pressing enter.
- All this information can be linked with your main Google account, because Google sends your cookie along with every automatic search it performs from the location bar.
If you are at all doubtful that they actually do this then try downloading fiddlr (A web debugging proxy), and shows that for nearly every character you type, Chrome sends a request back to Google.
At least they give you options to disable their data collection services, the only problem is most of your average users don’t understand what’s really going on “under the hood.” It’s wise to get an understanding about how they collect data and then try to tweak it for better privacy results. Anonymity matters to me for these simple reasons, and I think they should matter to you as well:
- Prevent people from watching and learning what sites I visit and my physical location.
- Protect your communications from irresponsible corporations.
- Protect your privacy from unscrupulous marketers and identity thieves.
How can I tweak my privacy so that Google and third parties don’t receive all my data?
- First get to grips with how Google uses your data which they say is just standard log information collected and used to further help improve the user’s experience. Fair enough, however, each Google Chrome installation contains a unique ID that identifies its user, and for the average user it’s tough to remove that ID. So the first task is to do this. You can easily achieve your goal by using UnChrome to anonymize yourself.
- Cookies. Are they safe? This is an endless debate, but the fact remains that near to all websites use them to track and remember you so turning them off could lead to unexpected results when browsing with cookies on.
After you click on the little wrench on the top-right side of the browser, goto options > under the hood > content settings and check “Ignore exceptions and block third=party cookies from being sent. This will help you block those third party vendors from tracking you.
- If you have read this article you should know that this is where Chrome learns the most about you, by logging your data. They even say that they use only 2% of the data they receive, along with the IP addresses of it’s users in Chrome. To disable these features goto little wrench on the top-right side of your browser, goto options > under the hood and disable these features:
- Google uses the omnibox (search address bar) to help you search faster—no other browser has this feature and at first glance it’s really cool. Goto the little wrench on your browser > options > basics and disable Instant for faster searching and browsing.
- Concurrently you may also disable the Chrome Auto-fill options and never save passwords, or prompt the user if you’d like to save your password for a particular site. You may also set your default search engine to Bing or Yahoo, but know that if you do this then they will receive your data (whatever’s left of it after you have tweaked) instead of Google.
Google Chrome's stable release has now reached version 12, bringing hardware acceleration for 3D CSS, better in-browser privacy for the built-in Adobe Flash Player, and safer downloads. Chrome 12 will automatically scan downloads to check for malicious files, warning users when they're found. With the new updates comes a loss, though, as Gears is now officially kaput—which means no more offline Gmail access for Chrome users. The update will automatically take place over the next couple of days. [Download Google Chrome via Google Chrome Blog]More »
Firefox/Chrome: When government officials seized ownership of a number of domains last month, a lot of people suddenly found their favorite torrent tracker shut down. Many owners of the seized domains simply moved to new URLs. If you're looking for them, the MAFIAA Fire extension uses a crowd-sourced database of alternative domains to connect you. More »
Incognito mode in Chrome is great for private browsing sessions, but its annoying that it disables other things too, like cookies. Here's how to keep sites from being logged in your history in an otherwise normal Chrome session. More »
Google Chrome's security padlock is freaking me out. When I'm on sites that should be secure—like, say, Gmail—Chrome is giving me warnings that the page isn't secure. What's going on here? More »
In a strong, head-held-high missive, Adobe has detailed a new initiative to bring Flash local storage clearing to Web browser UIs. The new API, NPAPI ClearSiteData will let Firefox and Chrome users clear Flash's Local Shared Objects, or 'Flash cookies,' in the same way that you currently clear cookies and temporary Internet files.
LSOs are very commonly used throughout the Web, but unlike conventional cookies they're a little harder to delete. A lot of websites use them to track you across the Web, but they're also used by sites like YouTube to store your video preferences.
BleachBit -- the open source system clean-up utility for Windows and Linux -- has added several new features to its latest version that make it an even better tool for removing unneeded files files from your computer. Support for Google Chrome and Chromium has been greatly improved: BleachBit can now remove everything from DNS prefetch data, to autofill history and DOM storage. Support for HTML5 localStorage cleaning has also been improved and now works with Opera.
On Linux systems, BleachBit can now remove swap files (in addition to swap devices). The Windows version has added the option to remove Windows Update uninstallers -- including hotfixes and Internet Explorer patches. BleachBit's list of supported programs has also grown significantly since we last wrote about the program, and it's well worth checking out the full list of features to see just how much digital crud it can remove from your hard drive.
We told you it was coming soon, but we didn't know precisely how soon: Wadlimir Palant has already pushed the first beta version of Adblock Plus for Google Chrome. It was just four days ago that TechCrunch reported that Palant had changed his mind about never releasing a Chrome port -- citing reasons like not wanting to maintain two unrelated projects and the availability of capable alternatives like AdThwart.
That's all changed, however, and AdThwart has become the foundation of Adblock Plus for Chrome. The first release includes improved filters, updated code to bring the extension more inline with its Firefox cousin, and better XHTML support.
Those of you who already had AdThwart installed should be automatically updated, and new users can install ABP from the Chrome Extensions Gallery.
Third-party browser tracking -- and how to give users more control over it -- is a hot topic right now. Microsoft and the FCC have similar plans, one former Google employee recently took the wraps off his take, and now there's another Chrome extension which turns the tracking blocker knob up to eleven.
Do Not Track (DNT) ChromeBlock, and it gives you an easy way to shut down around 90 different Web tracking networks. Just about every well-known harvester is listed: Google, MSN, Alexa, Doubleclick, Omniture, Quantcast, Tynt and Cleeki, to name a few. You can choose to block networks as DNT detects their presence on a page, or you can opt out in advance by clicking the show global settings link. The overlay on DNT's browser action button tells you how many networks are detected and how many you've chosen to block.
Do Not Track works nicely in tandem with Disconnect, so those of you looking for as much tracking protection as possible can go ahead and install both extensions. Even if you're not concerned with blocking the connections, it's very interesting to see which sites you browse are sending data to different providers.
Chrome: Vanilla is a browser extension that serves as a whitelist for browser cookies, automatically blocking cookies from sites you don't explicitly allow. More »
Decreased Productivity Camouflages Your Non-Work Browsing so You Can Surf Without Getting Busted [Downloads]
Chrome/Firefox: The Decreased Pro
So, you go to a new website, and you want to leave a comment. Maybe you want to open an account, but just to check the service out. Of course, they want your email, ... but should you give them your real email? Perhaps you should head over to Mailinator and take a moment to create a temporary inbox.
On the one hand, going to Mailinator will take you a moment, and you might want that inbox in the future. On the other hand, you don't know the site all that well, and perhaps giving them your real email address isn't such a great idea. Decisions, decisions!
Filed under: Utilities
Whenever your browser establishes a connection with a website, that website learns a great deal about you. It knows your current IP address (and thus your country and region), your browser (or what your browser claims to be - some browsers fake this), your OS (approximately), your language, etc. In short, it gathers quite a bit of data. Some of it is inferred, most of it is only somewhat accurate, and all of it can be faked if you know what you're doing and care enough to fake it.
TRASIR takes this information and exposes it to you in a very bare-bones layout; it spits out your IP address, host, country, region, and more. The site is free from any advertising, and I somehow get the feeling that it was made to look creepy. It almost looks like a screenshot from an early 90s sci-fi film (like something that a CIA spy would have used back then).
Location-based service Echo Echo recently posted the above image to their blog in a (successful) attempt to garner some media attention as the debate around online privacy continues to rage.
In the wake of a $8.5 million lawsuit settlement today, search giant Google made a gesture of good faith in the “caring about privacy” department, assuring users that it was taking steps in order to make the minutae of online privacy easier to understand.
“For example, we’re deleting a sentence that reads, ‘The affiliated sites through which our services are offered may have different privacy practices and we encourage you to read their privacy policies,’ since it seems obvious that sites not owned by Google might have their own privacy policies.”
One thing that I can say about Bynamite is that it looks slick. It's a service that purports to let you easily opt out of over 100 ad networks and specify what interests you (and what doesn't) so that you can get better targeted advertising.
It's not an ad blocker. It's a browser add-on for Firefox and Chrome that's coupled with a website. Once you install the add-on, it crunches for a while (you see a progress bar), and then you're presented with whatever fields of interest the tool found for you (i.e., interests that advertisers have mapped out for you without your knowledge). For my Chrome Canary installation, it found nothing, which makes sense (it's my "test" browser). I then tried it with my actual Firefox installation, and it came up with four interests; that's not a lot, but they all are relevant. Maybe it only came up with four because I used Adblock? How many did you guys get?
You can add interests and remove any interests that are inaccurate. According to their FAQ, Bynamite then "manages your opt-out preferences across over a hundred ad networks." What's unclear to me is how they do this. Do they accomplish it by setting a bunch of cookies?
You don't have to open an account, and they don't take your email address or any other identifiable information. So, I suspect that's the way it works.
All in all, the service feels solid. It lets you keep ads on but make them less annoying. This way, everybody wins, and the Internet stays free (as in beer). That's the premise, at least. What do you guys think?
Change is on the way, however. In the Chromium design docs, there's talk of building robust temporary download handling in to Google Chrome. As the doc describes it, the change would "provide a nonintrusive way to open downloaded files with another application without permanently storing them on disk." An addition would be made to Chrome's context menu allowing you to "download and open" a file -- like a .torrent -- without having to save it first.
Files downloaded that way would still appear on your shelf (the chrome://downloads page), but they'd be marked with an icon indicating their unsaved status. You can work with your "download and open" files as you would a normal download -- but Chrome would remind you that you have unsaved temporary files when you close the browser in case you want to save them permanently.
So, when can you expect to see the changes? Don't hold your breath -- this is actually related to a Chromium bug filed back in September of 2008.
Just last month, Google let us know that they were working on "a global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics." It's now here, and ready for users of Chrome, Firefox 3.5 and 3.6, and Internet Explorer 7 and 8.
Facebook has become a major hot-button topic recently, what with the endless privacy issues and bug reports floating around and all, so you may be thinking about leaving the social network. Unfortunately, kicking the habit may not be so easily done.
Maybe you want to deactivate your account, and let it sit while you think things over. Maybe you're afraid of outright deleting your account out of fear that you may become an elusive Internet hermit. Maybe keeping the account active is the only way your Mom will get off your case about not calling home often enough. Or perhaps you just don't want to abandon all your friends, who don't even use email or chat services anymore because of Facebook dependency. Sure, you've tried explaining it to them, but they still don't understand why you would want to leave such a fantabulous, wonderfully free social network. It's the greatest thing since sliced bread -- don't you know?
Maybe you find yourself stuck in a loathsome, controlling relationship with Mark Zuckerberg, and you just can't force yourself away from his buggy social clutches. Maybe you feel like you need some help.
Sadly, Dr. Drew Pinsky doesn't take cases like this for cheap, but you can still get the help you need to kick the Facebook habit right in the face, once and for all -- and you can do it with a userscript.
The script, called No Facebook, can be installed in any browser running Greasemonkey/Greasekit or in Chrome as an extension. Basically, when you have the script enabled and try to visit Facebook, you get directed to a page with nothing but the friendly reminder pictured above.
Now, whether you've decided to deactivate, delete, or simply leave your account open, you can at least exercise some control over your junkie self. Just remember -- you're not alone.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Chrome's pretty fast, even if you're not updating with its beta or development channels.