You don’t have to be paranoid to worry about the level of privacy intrusion that’s going on across the web at the moment. Most of us have no clue just how much information sites are collecting about our surfing habits and interests through cookies and other tracking mechanisms, and that’s a bit worrying. The ultimate answer is to be ruthless, and install and manage draconian cookie processes, but who wants to go through all that hassle and inconvenience? There should be a better way.
Privacy Fix, a free Google Chrome browser extension, is one way to get a little bit of control back over your data. The software hooks into an online dashboard which lets you view the exact privacy settings of the sites you visit, including Facebook, Google and others. The system also lets you set your privacy settings on sites like Facebook, so you share only what you want to share and not an ounce more.
One of the most worrying screens you get is the Tracking You Now one, where you can see exactly how many companies and websites are actually piggybacking your browser at that moment, looking at what you do. Many of them are fairly innocent of course, and all they’re doing is keeping tabs for their own user analytics, but others may have more sinister motives to gather intelligence on your habits and perhaps use it to manipulate you in one way or another. This is a common tactic of adware malware peddlers, who use this type of tracker to coerce you into buying stuff or using their products in one way or another.
So no, you don’t have to be paranoid to be worried, but it pays to be aware of what’s going on behind the scenes during your normal surfing day. Just in case. And this tool is a great way to ensure you become more informed and take more control in a quick and easy manner. It’s a shame it’s Chrome only at the moment, hopefully they’ll add more browsers over time.