Who's watching the watchers? Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Who's watching the watchers?...I am. I've been trying to find out who's tracking me since more and more articles are showing up about surfers being tracked on the internets, and this tool is great for seeing who's tracking me with Flash and HTML5 cookies.

I'm just starting to explore targeted ads, being tracked, and this is a good tool to see who is actually doing what on my computer.

I don't mind generic ads (like on t.v. or newspapers) to support bloggers, etc, but tracking me to target ads is too disconcerting (and who knows what gov't agency is getting their paws in the mix) and this add-on is another way for me to surf the web more comfortably. I'm exploring the Tracker-Scan add-on along with TrackerBlock to customize my surfing. At least using this ad-on makes me feel pro-active, rather than acting like a sheeple.

Too Commercial Feeling For Me Rated 3 out of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about TrackerBlock and PrivacyChoice, the organization that makes it.

I appreciate that from it I learned about HTML5 storage and that it allows removal of this type of information (although it seems like it can't be set to be automatic like Better Privacy does with LSOs--it's hard to tell). On the other hand, I'm skeptical of a privacy addon that seems to require me to set certain cookies to block tracking cookies. I just want to block the tracking. And I wonder in the future how those cookies themselves might be used/abused (even if this is not the initial intention). Would I notice? I'm not sure I want to have to just assume PrivacyChoice will always remain on the up and up.

PrivacyChoice itself seems like one of those organizations that's trying to bridge the divide between users who want privacy and businesses that don't want to be completely shut out. So it provides good tools to users, but also is working with websites, perhaps in the hope of mitigating the effect of people completely blocking any and all tracking in the first place. Perhaps allowing for a sort of softer-gentler tracking in a more privacy conscious world (but tracking nonetheless). Honestly it's really hard to tell how PrivacyChoice makes it's money and what its interests really are, from their website. The ".org" domain name itself seems to hide that this must be a commercial enterprise (which I never like when ".org" is used that way). In any case, there is certainly at least an apparent conflict of interest when an organization is working both for users who want to avoid tracking and companies that want to do at least some limited tracking. And I imagine it's the people who are paying the bills that will win out, ultimately, in such a conflict of interest. As another review notes, the whole thing has a commerical feel to it. And if you search around you can see that the founder and CEO of PrivacyChoice is definitely not a privacy advocate, but a serious business person.

In the end, I guess I prefer Better Privacy and I discovered the addon "Foundstone HTML5 Local Storage Explorer," which lets me manually view and delete HTML5 local storage.

* * *

Response to Reply below:

I have no doubt that TrackerBlock is a good tool that provides some degree of privacy from tracking and puts a lot of control in the hands of the user. In fact, I'll change my rating from two to three stars, to reflect this.

But I really don't buy the argument that you can be working for websites and developers with their own privacy tools (which has to include their decisions about how much and what they're going to track) and be working for users, without having a conflict of interest.

Further, when you write in your response to me about your products, which include "many other free privacy tools for websites and developers," that is a very vague statement that I think occludes the sort of softer gentler tracking tactics that I mention in my initial review. This is also reflected in the sometimes difficult to parse language on the PrivacyChoice website. "Privacy tools" here appears to be used to describe tools that websites and developers use to determine how they're going to both inform users, but also track users (to at least some degree). Just as Google's new "privacy policy" has been released to great fanfare, about how it will make everything simpler for users, but is actually a statement of how Google is going to track people in an even more centralized and potentially invidious manner. This is very different from "privacy tools" for users to protect their own privacy. So the word "privacy" appears here to be used in two very different manners: the privacy policies and technologies of websites and developers (that of course includes not just how they inform you about what they track, but how much and in what manner they are going to track you) and the privacy technologies available to users to limit or block websites and developers (not necessarily only in ways that they accept). So this double use of the word "privacy" elides some important distinctions and seems to me to be misleading to potential users of TrackerBlock.

In the end, as is always the case with conflicts of interest, if you're working for both sides, there's a conflict of interest. This is by definition what a conflict of interest is. Being relatively transparent about it or saying "trust us" (even if you've been trustworthy so far) does not mean there is no conflict of interest.

In the case of TrackerBlock and the other tools provided by PrivacyChoice to users, the potential problem I see is not that PrivacyChoice is (or may some day be) secretly tracking people somehow. The problem is that it encourages users to use a privacy tool that potentially reduces, rather than eliminates the various ways they may be tracked. In turn, they may end up not adopting more effective tools, that are less palatable to developers and websites. All this because it's claimed to be more convenient (the carrot hung in front of the user). This is why I call it a soft gentler tracking. And this is why the "our code is open" argument is beside the point. It's a distraction from a broader strategy to get people not to use other more extreme privacy tools (a strategy which I think will become more and more common as websites have to contend with a more privacy conscious user base). Whether or not this is exactly what PrivacyChoice is up to, I don't know. But that's the sense I get from trying to read between the lines of the information provided on its website.

And I still take issue with the use of a ".org" domain name for a commercial business. I don't see how that is not intended to obfuscate to users the nature of PrivacyChoice as a business.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (2.1.1-signed.1-signed). 

No mysteries here

I understand that you need to trust add-on authors, which is why we make these things transparent:

1. Our code is open, and you can always check which companies are blocked. You can see that it's working by checking your own cookies to see what we block. If we ever compromised operation of the add-on, it would be obvious to see.

2. We offer permanent opt-out cookies as an option for the user because so many people asked for it. It sounds like the reviewer only wants blocking, and that's exactly what you can have.

3. This addon controls both HTML5 local storage and Flash cookies when attempted by tracking companies. The problem with generic deletion of all Flash and HTML5 objects is that those can be useful when not used by tracking companies. Because we keep a master domain list of trackers, you can delete and block them selectively, which makes the rest of your web experience better.

4. As we make it clear in our FAQ, we license our database for companies making other privacy applications, which allows us to support the best curated tracker list available, as well as many other free privacy tools for websites and developers. Everything we do is about making privacy easier, which we've done now for nearly 2 million people, without any conflict of interest.

Rated 3 out of 5 stars

Seems to be a pretty good extension. I can tell it's working if I see HTML 5 elements, which I then selectively clear. Otherwise I wouldn't know because I don't use the 'Opt-Out' cookies feature, only the 'Tracker Blocking'. I say "wouldn't know" because I use a Windows app to manually remove cookies and it would show/allow me to keep or remove any 'Opt-Out cookies if I used that feature. What I don't get is that the 'Tracker Blocking' list is never updated and there's no option to check for new additions even it was so I give it 3 stars. Ghostery updates (and you can manually check for Web Bug updates, AND they do occasionally update) which is one of the reasons why I give Ghostery 5 stars. Ghostery focuses on web bugs though so I'm not comparing it to TrackerBlock in that regard, just the lack of updating gripe. I do use Better Privacy as well as I have no use for LSO/Flash cookies (although I like knowing who's using them and sometimes examining them).

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

How can I tell if it's working? Rated 1 out of 5 stars

I've installed the add-on, but how do I know if it's doing anything? There should be a way to see what is being blocked. The rather sparse PrivacyWatch website promotes TrackerScan as a way to see the trackers. A link installs an add-on called TrackerWatcher (same thing?) The TrackerWatcher toolbar button opens a completely empty page.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

Be Kind To Idiots Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Please make the setting up of this add-on a little easier for those of us who don't know much about computers. I installed TrackerBlock, clicked a "more" button and was told that I didn't need to do anything more and then clicked again and was told that a zillion tracking companies were now under my control, and was asked to check a box allowing the sending of information to TrackerBlock. What box? Where? I finally clicked the TrackerBlock symbol on Firefox and found the box with the check boxes that must be checked in order for TrackerBlock to do anything at all. I had missed, the first time around, the little "options" box at the bottom of the first page. I hadn't scrolled down because I'd had no idea that there was anything down to which to scroll. Clicking "options" displays the box with the check boxes. Those "options" are about as optional as breathing. Please make them more easily found. Once the check boxes are checked, TrackerBlock seems to work beautifully. I'm finding blank spots where I used to find annoying ads, and ads aren't popping up where I don't want them, and many pages seem to load faster. Even with the niggling complaint above, TrackerBlock rates a 5.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Excellent add-on - well worth using.

Could possibly extend it by integrating it with TrackerScan, giving the user details of trackers on a web page.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

PrivacyChoice's reply to C.A. Mat on July 13, 2011 Rated 4 out of 5 stars

PrivacyChoice.org wrote on July 13, 2011 :

"Like Better Privacy, TrackerBlock removes .... The difference is .... ... So if you want zero Flash cookies of any kind, you might want to use Better Privacy. If you want zero Flash cookies of any kind, you might want to use Better Privacy as well."

Which extension are you promoting, TrackerBlock or Better Privacy? The download is for the former, not the latter, but you mention the latter more than the former.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

It's up to you!

Thanks for your review. We're promoting whatever add-on works for your needs. We didn't build TrackerBlock to eliminate all Flash cookies, and if you need that you should use Better Privacy. With TrackerBlock you get more targeted deletion -- Flash cookies that are associated with tracking you across sites, as opposed to Flash cookies that may be used just to improve your experience.

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

nice addon

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

Install and forget LSOs Rated 5 out of 5 stars

This is a great add-on. Like many others, I became aware of how to delete LSOs from the Better Privacy add-on. But, I want to allow some LSOs, disallow others, and I don't want to maintain a list myself. PrivacyChoice.org tracks the trackers, so I can be confident that my LSOs won't be used for tracking, and I don't have to manually add exceptions for innocent LSOs. Win!

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

I don't understand why you would need Better Privacy, doesn't this addon pretty much do the same thing ?

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (  This user has a previous review of this add-on.

TrackerBlock provides focused Flash cookie control

Like Better Privacy, TrackerBlock removes Flash cookies (as well as HTML5 objects, which Better Privacy does not currently handle). The difference is that TrackerBlock focuses on objects from 450+ companies who are engaged in user tracking across sites, who typically write local objects on a third-party basis (i.e. you visit Site abc.com, and you get a Flash cookie from ad network def.com). Better Privacy can be set to delete all Flash cookies. In some cases, this means you are deleting even first-party Flash cookies, which can be useful in saving settings or performing other functions on websites that you visit. So if you want zero Flash cookies of any kind, you might want to use Better Privacy. If you want zero Flash cookies of any kind, you might want to use Better Privacy as well.

Rated 1 out of 5 stars

Is this true it won't work with Better Privacy? If so can we please get this updated to work with it?

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

We do not see any conflict with Better Privacy

Let us know if you see any issues, but there shouldn't be. Will you please adjust your rating once you have tried?

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

This is far better than Ghostery, sucks you can't use this with Better Privacy, I like that addon, though I understand why. This updated version did not impact my browser speed much (previous version did).
(EDIT: Seems to work with Better Privacy now ^_^)

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (2.0.1-signed.1-signed). 

Update coming soon!

Thanks for your comment. We are almost ready to submit an update the resolves the compatibility issues with Ghostery.

Version 2.0 Doesn't Work Rated 1 out of 5 stars

I selected to Opt-out of every cookie listed under Opt-out Cookies and Tracker Blocking. HOWEVER, using Firefox, when I go to Tools / Options / Show Cookies, EVERY cookie which was "opted out" is listed. Whenever I attempted to remove the cookie, it locks up Firefox.

Several Microsoft dump reports have been generated and submitted. Am recommending to Firefox to remove this software from their Add-on listing.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (2.0.1-signed.1-signed). 

Clarifying - this is how TrackerBlock is supposed to work

One of the features of this addon is that it keeps opt-out cookies in place, rewriting them at the beginning of each browser session. The cookies you are seeing are NOT tracking cookies, they are non-unique cookies that tell tracking companies not to collect tracking data or show targeted ads.

Many users asked us to provide a combined solution: to both block cookie access and keep opt-out cookies as a "belt and suspenders" approach. Sorry if this is causing any confusion!

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Excellent add-on. Please update for FF5.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on ( 

Rated 5 out of 5 stars


I am the author of the ParanoidKit collection, A featured collection on AMO with +700 followers.

I first must apologize for being a bit rash and careless to the developer. Specifically, I was about 2 months late recieving an email and contact number from the team explaining my prior concerns on this add-on. This reflects very poorly on my part and consequently, may have damaged the add-on's reputation as well. I will continue my review, unbaised over past failures and move forward, but it wouldn't feel right without first disclosing that information.

After heavily scurtinizing the addon, I had my questions answered shortly after my previous post.

Expect for the commercial feel, and some minimal privacy concerns. I feel pretty confident the guys at PrivacyChoice.org have a competent dev team that keeps current with todays privacy issues... so I feel comfortable recommending the add-on, but wish to advise no system is perfect.

This system has 2 weakness:

1) A unique cookie is used to store user prefs instead of updating the add-on every x days (which is fairly reasonable). The cookie stays presistant even when you clear cookies as well. :-/

However, PrivacyChoice seems pretty strict and straight forward on how they wish this data to be handled otherwise. :-\

2) This add-on is dependant on the team that creates its rules. This isn't so much a weakness or failure, but it would be nice to see more community driven stuff. I guess you always welcome to address the dev with your concerns or findings.

I have not tested the effectiveness of this add-on, but my judgement (gut feeling) is this add-on is very effective.

Aside from the commercial feel mentioned earlier, I have no other complaints, and see this as a well made add-on that gets my nod. I will keep this add-on under further (good) consideration.

thank you

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (  This user has 2 previous reviews of this add-on.

It blows away both Tacos Rated 5 out of 5 stars

I run the "Apollo! Pack" and I used to have both Tacos in the collection and both actually got WORSE as time went along and I dumped them both. This one performs painlessly and without a hitch. Combined with other security and privacy apps and you will have near impregnable security,airtight privacy and spam free surfing- which alone can speed up your browsing! The bottom line is this one is a true 5 star blockbuster!

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (1.1.1-signed.1-signed). 

An alternative to Beef Taco, Abine, etc. Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Works as expected. Yes, the "Preferences"-Button is disabled. But that is intended and no bug. Go to the "Tools"-Menu and click on "PrivacyChoice TrackerBlock" which leads you to this site "http://www.privacychoice.org/trackerblock/firefox".
There you have the "preferences": You can choose to block no companies, all, only the ones without oversight or even pick the ones you want by yourself.
That's it. No need for more settings.

And yes, the addon works great. Very lightweight and no slowdown or whatsoever.

Btw, you can also test it against these two pages (you should not see any opt-out-cookies):

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (1.0). 

Rated 1 out of 5 stars

Doesn't work at all. Can't access "Preferences" to set it up. Lowest rating because it won't run!

Firefox 3.6.13 on Linux Mint OS (Debian/Ubuntu.) Latest versions, just updated.

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (1.0). 

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Update it for FF4

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (1.0). 

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

Despite mixed reviews this add-on does block numerous unwanted and unneeded cookies. Does what it says it does. 5 stars ;-)

This review is for a previous version of the add-on (1.0).