The World Wide Web Consortium is currently working to standardize a “Do Not Track” mechanism to stop advertisers from following your every move around the web. Unfortunately, while the DNT tools are already supported in most web browsers, hardly any advertisers actually honor it. In fact, some advertisers seriously proposed an exception be made to DNT to allow web tracking.
If you’re serious about online privacy you’re going to have to do more than hope that advertisers voluntarily stop tracking you, you’re going to have to actively block them.
There are several tools that make it easy to stop the tracking. One of the best, DoNotTrackPlus, was recently renamed DoNotTrackMe (DNTMe). The new name arrives alongside a major upgrade that blocks more trackers, adds some nice analytics and offers per-site tracking reports.
The DNTMe add-on is available for Chrome, IE, Firefox and Safari. You can grab a copy for your browser from Abine’s download page. Once installed you’ll see a new “cross hairs” icon in your browser’s menu bar, which you can use to access DNTMe’s settings and any blocking info about the current page.
DNTMe is easy to set up and defaults to blocking nearly everything. You can customize that by going through and allowing sites you don’t mind setting cookies. For example, I generally allow analytics packages like Mint or Piwik. You can also customize tracking on a per-site basis, allowing, for example, a site you trust to run analytics packages, but not every site you visit.
I currently use Ghostery to block online tracking, and it stacks up well next to DNTMe, though DNTMe does have one feature that might be an advantage for some users — blocking suggestions. That is, DNTMe suggests not blocking certain sites if blocking them has a high probability of breaking something on the page — say, Brightcove for example, which sets tracking cookies, but without which the site’s videos won’t work.
If you don’t mind enabling sites by hand and troubleshooting any potential problems yourself then either add-on will work. But if you’re installing a tracking blocker in someone else’s browser (who may not realize why a video suddenly doesn’t work) then DNTMe might be the better choice.