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Want to know who’s spying on you online? There’s an app for that
2013-10-25 0:00

By Nick Heath | ZDNet

Mozilla has released a tool that will allow users of the Firefox browser to know which companies are tracking them online.

Would you like to know who’s watching which websites you visit? Well there’s an app for that.

It’s standard practice for advertisers to keeps tabs on the sites you frequent using tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are small text files that are downloaded on to your computer that log the websites you browse and, in some case, how you interact with these sites. Advertisers and other companies use these logs to build a profile of your interests, allowing advertisers to sell you products and services you’re more likely to buy.

In an attempt to highlight just how many different firms are tracking our browsing habits online Mozilla has produced Lightbeam, an add-on that can be downloaded for the Firefox browser that captures who is watching you.

Every time you visit a site the tool logs every web address that is connecting to your machine, revealing how visiting a single website can result in your computer to connecting to many different web servers. Each of these servers may be controlled by different companies, and send and collect different information — for example, serving up images and adverts on the site or placing tracking cookies on your computer.

Each circle shows a web address of a site visited and each triangle a third party site that has connected to your computer.

The log is rendered as an infographic that makes it clear which third parties are operating behind the scenes on each website you visit. Users can choose to watch or block individual sites from the tool.

Mozilla’s executive director Mark Surman said Lightbeam is about raising public awareness of how their activity is tracked online.

"It really is a stake in the ground designed to start a conversation about privacy," he said.


Read the full article at: zdnet.com

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