DoNotTrackMe simplifies tracker blocking

DoNotTrack Plus upgrades to DoNotTrackMe while improving its privacy-protecting, tracker-blocking tools.

If ad blocking is the hacksaw of Internet-protecting add-ons, DoNotTrackMe is a finely honed katana, slicing out tracking behaviors embedded in sites without destroying the modern Web.

The latest version makes some helpful changes both on the surface and how it protects you. Formerly known as Do Not Track Plus, the add-on's redesign makes it significantly easier to use. DNTMe's new crosshairs icon sits next to your location bar, and is easier to find than the previous one. It still shows you the number of trackers that it's blocked on the site that you're visiting, but the layout redeco looks much less like a Windows XP reject.

Click on the crosshairs and a drop-down window opens that shows you a sun icon if there's no trackers on the site, or in-depth tracking info if there's more going on than meets the eye. If trackers are detected, you see first a list of the companies tracking you, and then a breakdown of which companies to which they report. These include separate call-outs for social networks, as well as other private companies. The slider at the top is also what you click to allow all tracking from a specific site.

Below the tracker data is a real-time chart showing you how many trackers you've been protected from, although the chart's data is a bit thin. At the very bottom you have links to a combination of Abine privacy products, such as its DeleteMe service, and free blog posts that help explain more information about tracking and privacy concerns.

DNTMe's benefit isn't just that it blocks trackers, but that it keeps the social Web active while protecting you. Publisher Abine does this by actually rebuilding the social-networking buttons on most sites, which prevents sites from gleaning tracking data from you when you're not logged in. By rebuilding social-networking buttons on the fly without sacrificing privacy or site load times, it keeps the kind of functionality people want from the Web.

It's a unique response to the problem of tracking, and reflects how seriously Abine takes its task. DNTMe also blocks ad networks and companies from following you around the Web.

Several under-the-hood changes to DNTMe have improved how it protects you. It's dropped advertiser opt-out cookies, a small change that eliminates confusion about different types of cookies and increases your protection. It will warn you, too, when it knows about social-networking news and when social-networking sites make privacy policy changes.

The settings icon, a small gear at the top, lets you toggle tracking cookie blocking on a per-site basis. And throughout the interface, links take you to Abine's sites that explain what the add-on is doing and why it's doing it. We're talking smart, helpful stuff.

If you're aware of the serious privacy risks on the Internet today, but are looking for something more nuanced than an ad blocker or JavaScript killer that still lets you experience the modern Web, the Do Not Track HTML header is too anemic to be useful despite its good intentions. Protect yourself by putting some serious weight behind that impulse with DoNotTrackMe.

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