How to Tell Who's Tracking You Online

A new tool reveals your virtual footsteps and who's taking note

Mozilla has introduced Collusion, an add-on for the Firefox browser that shows you how companies are tracking you as you surf the Web. A cool visual demonstration of the software illustrates all the links that form as you crisscross just a few popular sites online, including IMDb, the New York Times and the Huffington Post. The software shows the connections among sites you visit and third-party tracking and advertising networks such as DoubleClick and Scorecard Research. It makes plain the invisible web that has been woven through the Web.

The software was created as a prototype by Atul Varma, who explained in a blog post that he “didn’t know a lot about tracking myself, so I whipped up a Firefox add-on called Collusion to help me visualize it better. The results were a little unsettling.”

Collusion will help you understand how you are being tracked online, but it won’t stop it from happening. For that, you can disable third-party cookies on your browser and install other add-ons such as TrackerBlock. A number of Internet giants have also announced support for a “do not track” button, although that option may not become available until the end of the year.

This article was published in print as "How to Tell Who's Tracking You Online."

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