Meet the TrackMeNot Developer

Why was TrackMeNot created?

The practice of logging user search activities and creating individual search profiles - sometimes identifiable - has received attention in mainstream press, e.g. the recent front-page New York Times article on AOL's release of collected data on individual searchers; also this front-page New York Times Business Section article describing the User-Profiling Practices of Yahoo!, AOL, Bing & Google.

We are disturbed by the idea that search inquiries are systematically monitored and stored by corporations like AOL, Yahoo!, Google, etc. and may even be available to third parties. Because the Web has grown into such a crucial repository of information and our search behaviors profoundly reflect who we are, what we care about, and how we live our lives, there is reason to feel they should be off-limits to arbitrary surveillance. But what can be done?

Legal approaches -- urging legislators to support limits on access, or courts to extend Fourth Amendment protection -- might be effective, but would require orchestrated efforts by many parties. Appeals to search companies themselves seem even less hopeful as their interests, at least on the surface, are in direct conflict with such limits. Both, at best, are long term prospects.

We have developed TrackMeNot as an immediate solution, implemented and controlled by users themselves. It fits within the class of strategies, described by Gary T. Marx, whereby individuals resist surveillance by taking advantage of blind spots inherent in large-scale systems. TrackMeNot may not radically alter the privacy landscape but helps to place a particularly sensitive arena of contemporary life back in the hands of individuals, where it belongs in any free society.

About the Developers

Developer Information
Name Daniel C. Howe
User since March 5, 2007
Number of add-ons developed 1 add-on
Average rating of developer's add-ons Rated 4 out of 5 stars
Developer Information
Name Helen Nissenbaum
Homepage http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum
User since March 5, 2007
Number of add-ons developed 1 add-on
Average rating of developer's add-ons Rated 4 out of 5 stars
Developer Information
Name Janoss
Location Paris
Homepage http://unsearcher.org/
Email address
User since October 14, 2007
Number of add-ons developed 2 add-ons
Average rating of developer's add-ons Rated 4 out of 5 stars

Who is Janoss?

I'm a former NYU PostDoc still maintaining/developing the TrackMeNot extension in collaboration with Professor Helen Nissenbaum. I'm currently working at Bell-Labs France (Alcatel-Lucent) as a research engineer. I've work on a couple of browser extensions, TrackMeNot is obviously the most important one but previous to that I also worked on SquiggleSR a TrackMeNot-like extension. More recently I prototyped Adnostic.