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[liberationtech] Abine's DoNotTrackPlus browser plug-in

Jordan McCarthy jrmccarthy at stanford.edu
Sun Feb 12 12:08:29 PST 2012


I've used it - and I do not trust it at all.  Abine bought out the TACO 
firefox extension (which was originally just a simple, lightweight 
extension that made opt-out cookies for a wide range of ad networks 
highly persistent), and then proceeded to bog the thing down with 
multimedia alerts and largely-useless widgets (which were pushed out to 
users of the older version of TACO without their knowledge or consent).  
Far more disturbing, I also discovered that it was mucking with 
Firefox's certificate-processing functionality, such that sites that 
should have been showing up as both encrypted and signed all showed up 
as being from an "unknown source."  It was the latter behavior that 
creeped me out so much that I immediately uninstalled the application, 
and have never gone back.  And based on what I've seen on-line, I'm not 
alone: 
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/targeted-advertising-cookie-op/reviews/

I should also note that a disgruntled TACO user has resurrected the 
pre-abine TACO, which is now available under the name "Beef Taco."  I'd 
highly recommend it for someone who's looking for the functionality of 
Abine, without the shameless self-promotion:
http://www.velvetcache.org/2010/06/17/forking-taco-2-0

- Jordan

My PGP Public Key <http://www.stanford.edu/%7Ejordanrm/pubkey.asc>
Sent from a computer running Free and Open Source Software

On 02/12/2012 11:51 AM, Yosem Companys wrote:
> We're getting Twitter requests asking us to review apps like the one below
> before circulating such articles to make sure that they do indeed do what
> they say they do.  Anybody know anything about the app below?  Has anyone
> used it before?
>
> Yosem
>
>
>
> How to kill Web trackers dead Abine's DoNotTrackPlus browser plug-in stops
> trackers in their tracks -- and it's free. My new Web mantra: Don't track
> me, bro.
>
> *February 09, 2012, 10:55 AM* — Here’s fair warning to all social media
> data scavengers, ad tracking companies, and analytics snoops on the
> InterWebs: There’s a new anti-tracking sheriff in town.
>
> Today, online privacy company Abine Inc. unveiled a new browser
> widget<http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-free-online-privacy-tool-for-consumers-unveiled-2012-02-09>
> called,
> appropriately enough,DoNotTrackPlus<http://abine.com/dntdetail.php>  (because
> these days everything has to come with a plus sign – thank you, Google).
> I’ve been taking it for a spin this morning and I gotta say it’s pretty
> slick.
>
> DNT+ keeps more than 600 ad networks and other Web trackers from depositing
> tracking cookies on your hard drive. It also tells you who they are.
> Period, full stop. (However, it won't do anything about tracking cookies
> that have already been deposited on your computer; you'll have to manually
> delete those.)
>
>     - Everything you always wanted to know about Web tracking (but were too
>     paranoid to ask)<http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/220053/everything-you-always-wanted-know-about-web-tracking-were-too-paranoid->
>     - Abine updates Firefox add-on to block Web
> tracking<http://www.itworld.com/security/179099/abine-updates-firefox-add-block-web-tracking>
>
> Getting DNT+ to work is painless – download, click “Install,” and you’re
> done. I didn’t even have to restart my browser. Visit any site, and the
> DNT+ ticker in the upper right corner of your browser tells you how many
> Web trackers are embedded within it. Click the ticker to see the types of
> trackers and who they belong to.
>
> For example, DNT+ detected 17 trackers on the very site you’re now reading
> (ITworld.com).
>
>   * Three of them are social media sharing buttons (Facebook, G+, Twitter).
> They will still work if you click them, but they won’t record the fact
> you’re looking at this page if you do nothing (which Facebook, at least,
> has been known to do).
>
> * Three are ad networks (Dedicated Networks, Quantcast, and AppNexus). By
> blocking them, DNT+ keeps them from capturing any information about you.
>
> * 11 are classified as “trackers,” though most of these are also ad
> networks (like Doubleclick) as well as things like Google Analytics.
>
> DNT+ also keeps a running tally of all the trackers it has blocked as you
> surf. It took me about 30 minutes of casual surfing to blast past the 100
> mark. And that’s it in a nutshell. Really simple, highly useful, and did I
> mention it’s free?
>
> This is not an original idea by any stretch. DNT+’s main competition, so to
> speak, is another free add-on called Ghostery<http://www.ghostery.com/>,
> which has been downloaded by more than 2 5 million
> surfers<http://www.evidon.com/consumers/engage#tab2>.
> (Another free tool calledCollusion shows you how different Web sites are
> connected via these
> trackers<http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/218523/how-track-whos-tracking-you-across-web>
> .)
>
> Ghostery differs from DNT+ in a number of ways. The first is performance.
> DNT+ had no impact on how quickly pages loaded for me. In my experience,
> using Ghostery makes Web pages load a scosh slower (your mileage may vary).
>
> With nearly 800 tracking companies in its database, however, Ghostery is a
> bit more thorough. At ITworld Ghostery found 20 trackers, including a half
> dozen DNT+ didn’t flag, but missed three trackers Abine did catch.
>
> The biggest difference is that DNT+ just blocks these cookies outright –
> ask no questions, take no prisoners. You have to tell Ghostery which
> tracking cookies you want to block, either individually by company or by
> category (advertising, analytics, etc).
>
> The reason for that is simple. Ghostery is owned by Evidon, a company
> that’s trying to bridge the gap between ad networks and the people who are
> worried about Web tracking (aka, the Don’t Track Me Bro crowd). Evidon is
> behind the AdChoices campaigns you might see on some Web ads, which
> discloses information about what data each ad is gathering as you surf.
>
>   Evidon CEO Scott Meyer says fears about Web tracking are
> overblown<http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/220053/everything-you-always-wanted-know-about-web-tracking-were-too-paranoid->,
> in large part because ad networks have no interest in personally
> identifying the people who are looking at their ads. He also sounds the
> usual warnings about how if tracking and targeted ads were regulated out of
> existence the “free” Internet as we know it would cease to exist.
>
> (I have a problem with that argument, but I’ll save it for another post.)
>
> The choice seems pretty simple to me. Hate Web tracking and all that it
> entails? Download DoNotTrackPlus. Want to know more about who’s tracking
> you without necessarily opting out of all tracking? Give Ghostery a spin,
> and look out for those blue AdChoices triangles as they proliferate across
> the Web.
>
> I know which one I’m using from now on.
>
> *Got a question about social media? **TY4NS blogger Dan
> Tynan<http://www.itworld.com/blogs/dantynan>
> ** may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his
> snarky, occasionally NSFW blog **eSarcasm<http://www.esarcasm.com/>** or
> follow him on Twitter: **@tynan_on_tech<http://twitter.com/#!/Tynan_on_Tech>
> **. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on **
> Twitter<http://twitter.com/ITworld>** and
> **Facebook<http://www.facebook.com/ITworld>
> **.*
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