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Browser Plugin 'Privacy Badger' Badgers Online Trackers

Online companies are absolutely desperate to track your every movement online and sell the information to intrusive advertisers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is not thrilled about this, and has given users a way to control their online privacy: the Privacy Badger plugin for Firefox and Chrome.

Privacy Badger is a simple add-on that monitors tracking cookies that target you on every website you visit. If you visit Tom's Guide, for example, Privacy Badger knows that Tom's Guide uses cookies to keep track of login information, and will ignore those. If any third-party advertisers attempt to leverage your personal information, however, it will notify you and give you the option to block it.

MORE: 13 Security and Privacy Tips for the Truly Paranoid

The EFF points out that Privacy Badger targets only tracking cookies, not all third-party activity. This is helpful for users, as third parties on websites often provide useful features, such as fonts, embedded videos or animated menus. The plugin displays a green emblem for safe third-party programs, a yellow emblem for trackers that may be intrusive and a red emblem for tracking that Privacy Badger has disallowed entirely.

Additionally, the EFF has extended an olive branch to advertisers. If Privacy Badger finds a third-party tracker intrusive enough to block, the company can get its service unblocked by mending its ways. Privacy Badger will not block any advertisers that respects up-front Do Not Track requests from users.

That said, it's unlikely that the EFF's incentive will mean much to most advertisers. The vast majority of Web users are not aware that they are constantly being monitored, nor of programs like Privacy Badger that protect their identities.

In terms of functionality, Privacy Badger is similar to Ghostery, but not quite as robust. Whereas the Ghostery plugin identifies every third-party service on a website and gives you the opportunity to block them, Privacy Badger targets only the most odious privacy invaders. The two programs can work in tandem, but you probably need only one, depending on whether you want something simple or something comprehensive.

Users can download Privacy Badger at the EFF's website, and take a proactive step toward keeping their online identities to themselves.

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