The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced an update to Panopticlick 2.0 — a web-based utility that analyzes your web browser’s current capabilities, settings and behavior as it is visible to outside people, to help you understand how your privacy is maintained.
It’s an interesting question, the issue of privacy, when considering the accessibility and use of so many “free” services. The fact is, our privacy is the currency we often trade in money’s stead.
This growing realization is prompting many people to find ways to start protecting their privacy. This is a challenge, despite whatever means they discover, particularly considering the largest marketing company around, Google, also provides people with the most widely-used web browser, Chrome.
Running Panopticlick 2.0 from the Chrome web browser yielded the following result for me:
It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect. I don’t, however, use Google’s Chrome browser, except when I have no choice, which Google makes sure is often enough. For example, you can’t edit your photos stored on Google unless you use Chrome. You can’t use hangouts unless you use Chrome. Or use Google Voice. And if you’re using Linux, in order to use Chrome, you must give Google root access to your computer by installing Chrome as a system repository.
So I use Firefox for nearly everything that isn’t a Google service, as a sort of compromise. I actually find Firefox is a much better experience for me, too, regardless of ethical considerations. I also use the EFF’s Privacy Badger plugin, which helps thwart tracking. The result of the same test run above with Firefox, using Privacy Badger is the following:
I honestly don’t mind ads on sites, as long as they are not obtrusive or intrusive — or malicious. And Google provides some of the least obtrusive ads out there. However, they also provide some of the most intrusive, in that they know the most about you.
I use Google’s Ads on my site here. Despite getting around 100 or so visits per day, I haven’t made any money from them yet. Not one cent. Yet I’m giving Google the information that you’ve come here to read this. Unless, of course, you’re using something like Privacy Badger to block the ads, like I am. 😉 I don’t know how much you could really block using an add-on, if you’re using Google’s Chrome browser though.
As an interesting aside, I ran this test on Microsoft’s Edge web browser. It surprised me! They actually have some partial protection for people going on. Well done Microsoft!
The funny thing is, if you click on “Install Privacy Badger” in Microsoft Edge, you get taken to the Google Chrome store to install a Chrome plugin. The EFF really needs to fix that.