TrackMeNot extension – a Confundus charm for Chrome and Firefox to obfuscate your online user profile

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If you are uncomfortable about having your online searches tracked (e.g. in order to provide you with targeted ads based on your browsing habits, etc.), you might want to check out the TrackMeNot extension created by the TMN Team (creators: Daniel C. Howe, Helen Nissenbaum; developer: Vincent Toubiana) for Chrome and Firefox. It does NOT work by concealing or encrypting your searches. Instead, according to the TrackMeNot developers,

TrackMeNot runs as a low-priority background process that periodically issues randomized search-queries to popular search engines, e.g., AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing. It hides users’ actual search trails in a cloud of ‘ghost’ queries, significantly increasing the difficulty of aggregating such data into accurate or identifying user profiles.

It also now “clicks through” the search results, meaning that it will select and navigate (only a percentage of the time) through some of the search results of the random queries to further emulate a real user. I have not given it a try yet, but the options allow you to select the search engines that TrackMeNot should use, the frequency that queries are sent, and it allows you to set up a blacklist of sites for TrackMeNot to avoid. If you are concerned about having your online activity tracked, perhaps this is worth a try. It has a four-star rating (75 reviews) on the Chrome Web Store. TrackMeNot is only available for Chrome and Firefox browsers. To find out more information about it, check out the TrackMeNot FAQ section.

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