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Find out how ad trackers follow you on the web with EFF’s "cover your tracks" tool

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Beginner-Friendly Tool Gives Users Options for Avoiding Browser Fingerprinting and Tracking

San Francisco-The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched Cover Your Tracks, a interactive tool that teaches users how advertisers follow them as they shop or browse online, and how to fight back against corporate trackers to protect their privacy, mitigate relentless ad targeting, and improve the web ecosystem for everyone.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just days away, when millions of users will be shopping online, Cover Your Tracks provides an in-depth learning experience-aimed at non-technical users-about how they are unwittingly being tracked online through their browsers.

"Our browsers leave traces of identifiable information when we visit websites, like animals might leave tracks in the wild, and that can be combined into a unique identifier that follows us online, like wildlife that’s been tagged," said EFF Senior Staff Technologist Bill Budington. "We want users to take back control of their Internet experience by giving them a tool that lets them in on the hidden tricks and technical ploys online advertisers use to follow them so they can cover their tracks."

Cover Your Tracks allows users to test their browsers to see what information about their online activities is visible to, and scooped up by, trackers. It shines a light on tracking mechanisms that utilize cookies, code embedded on websites, and more. Users can also learn how to cover some of their tracks by changing browser settings and using anti-tracking add-ons like EFF’s Privacy Badger.

Cover Your Tracks builds on EFF’s ground-breaking tracker awareness tool Panopticlick, which exposed how advertisers create "fingerprints" of users by capturing little bits of information given off by their browsers and using that to identify and follow them around the web and build profiles for ad targeting.

Panopticlick showed users that browser fingerprinting existed. Cover Your Tracks takes the next step, helping empower users to uncover and combat trackers. The goal is to provide easy-to-understand information about exactly what kind of fingerprint tracking might be happening and how it’s performed.

"Cover Your Tracks shows how Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and hundreds of lesser known entities work together to exploit browser information in order to track users. They then use that information to bombard users with ads," said Budington. "We want users to learn a few tricks of their own to confuse trackers by utilizing browsers and extensions that give off the same information regardless of what computers they’re running on, or randomize certain bits of information so they can’t be used as a reliable tracker."

Cover Your Tracks offers a learning page about the methodology EFF uses to mimic trackers and test browsers. EFF plans to add new infographics demonstrating how users can employ add-ons and new kinds of anti-fingerprinting browsers to fight tracking.

Visit Cover Your Tracks:

https://coveryourtracks.eff.org/

For more on corporate surveillance:

https://www.eff.org/wp/behind-the-one-way-mirror

For more on Panopticlick:

https://panopticlick.eff.org/

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