DoNotTrackMe: New name, same tracker-blocking game

Abine's Do Not Track Plus gets a new name, a few new tools, and a much better look, making it much easier to use the modern Web without being tracked.

DoNotTrackMe simplifies tracking blocking

While providing sharp teeth for the Do Not Track header has proved to be futile so far, Abine's DoNotTrackMe makes increasing your privacy online as easy as installing an add-on. The latest update, available exclusively today from Download.com, makes it much easier to use while making some important but small security changes.

Known as Do Not Track Plus when it underwent a massive overhaul at the beginning of this year, DoNotTrackMe remains available as a cross-platform, multibrowser add-on.

You can download DoNotTrackMe for Firefox (Windows | Mac), Chrome (Windows | Mac), Internet Explorer 32-bit (Windows only) | Internet Explorer 64-bit), and Safari (Windows | Mac).

DoNotTrackMe's new crosshairs icon on Chrome.

(Credit: Abine)

Sarah Downey, Abine's in-house privacy analyst, said in an interview at CNET's San Francisco office yesterday that the opt-out cookies was a nuance lost on many people. "The No. 1 complaint we got was about the advertiser cookie tracking." The new version of DNTMe adds more than 50 trackers to its list, for a total of more than 200 companies and 630 tracking technologies.

She explained that Abine defines a "tracking cookie" as "the connection your browser makes when it loads a Web page that's intended to record, profile, or share your online activity. Usually," she said, "these connections are made to entirely different companies than the Web site you're visiting."

The style changes are fairly straightforward. Longtime fans of the add-on will appreciate the new, smarter icon, a crosshairs, and the fact that it tells you not only how many trackers it's blocked on the site you're visiting, but that it now comes with social network warnings. Visit Twitter or Facebook, for example, and it'll tell you when those services make privacy policy changes or have other news.

The new interface looks far more modern than its usable but basic predecessor. The number of trackers following you from a site is front and center, and a simple chart shows you how many times you've been protected over time. The chart is definitely a bit light on data, at least right now. Links at the bottom take you Abine's useful privacy blog, which explores online privacy issues more in-depth.

Other visual improvements focus on the use of slider buttons for toggling which trackers get blocked. A slider appears at the top of the add-on's window so you can quickly turn on or off tracker blocking on a per-site basis.

DoNotTrackMe now gives you social networking warnings.

(Credit: Abine)

The add-on still does its unique rebuilding of social networking buttons, so even though you're blocking trackers, you're not killing off the benefits of the modern Web. Downey said that she expects some advertiser backlash against Abine and companies like it.

"Recent events like how they treat DNT [the Do Not Track header], Safarigate, and undeletable cookies made us decide that we're going to give consumers what they want," she said. "We think privacy should be simple, and consumers who want it should be able to get it."

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