Most advertisers will be sure to frown upon Privacy Badger, a new extension developed by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which automatically detects and blocks third-party trackers from spying on user's activities as they browse the Web.
EFF announced Wednesday the alpha release of Privacy Badger, a free extension for Chrome and Firefox web browsers that can detect third-party cookies and trackers that follow users around the Web and gather information about their browsing habits.
"Privacy Badger is EFF's answer to intrusive and objectionable practices in the online advertising industry, and many advertisers' outright refusal to meaningfully honor Do Not Track requests," says EFF on its website.
Most major web browsers provide users a Do Not Track option, a browser privacy standard that tells the websites a user visits that he explicitly does not want the websites to install third-party tracking applications that aim to collect information about the user's activities.
Do Not Track, however, is an exercise in futility. One major flaw of this setting is it banks heavily on the self-regulation. There is no legislation that compels advertisers to honor Do Not Track, which means advertisers are free to ignore the warning to go ahead and install tracking applications on the user's web browser.
Yahoo, one of the first and staunchest advocates of Do Not Track, recently announced that the setting will no longer be enabled on its websites, citing the lack of an industry standard surrounding the privacy setting.
Here comes in Privacy Badger, which will block advertisements and third-party trackers from websites that pay no mind to Do Not Track.
"When you visit websites, your copy of Privacy Badger keeps note of the "third-party" domains that embed images, scripts and advertising in the pages you visit," explains EFF. "If a third-party server appears to be tracking you without permission, by using uniquely identifying cookies to collect a record of the pages you visit across multiple sites, Privacy Badger will automatically disallow content from that third-party tracker."
However, the extension will allow third-party applications whose absence affects a website's functionality, such as applications that embed maps, videos or fonts, although Privacy Badger will still block tracking cookies from these applications.
Privacy continues to be a major issue on the Internet. Last week, Firefox released a survey that shows 40% of Internet users in the United States prefer a website that safeguards their privacy over one that prioritizes freedom, accessibility, learning, opportunity or user control.
EFF notes that advertisers who make a "strong commitment" to Do Not Track will be given the opportunity to be unblocked from Privacy Badger.