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Mozilla’s Lightbeam add-on lets you see who is tracking you

And the results can be scary
Fri Oct 25 2013, 14:45

SOFTWARE FIRM Mozilla has released an add-on for its Firefox web browser that lets users keep an eye on who is tracking them and from where.

Lightbeam, otherwise known as Collusion, maps information about visited websites and their third party hangers-on.

"Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the web," said Mozilla in its accompanying information. "It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers."

Once installed you access the feature through an icon at the bottom right of your Firefox web browser screen. Clicking that takes you to a graph that showed us, with six different tabs open, that tracking or associated websites outnumbered the ones we knew about by a good four to one.

Unsurprisingly they are mostly ad networks and errata. Mozilla said that the feature is all about giving people as much information about their web use and who tracks it as possible.

"We recognise the importance of transparency and our mission is all about empowering users - both with tools and with information," it said. "The Ford Foundation is supporting Mozilla to develop the Collusion add-on so it will enable users to not only see who is tracking them across the web, but also to turn that tracking off when they want to."

Mozilla said that it could share the information that it gets on people and tracking with "researchers, journalists, and others" to better understand how data is tracked on the web. You can opt out of being part of this research pool, and Mozilla said that it would not be included until a full version is released.

Mozilla reminded us, at a time when the eyes are turned on information snarfing governments, that not all tracking is bad - but most is.

"Many services rely on user data to provide relevant content and enhance your online experience. But most tracking happens without users' consent and without their knowledge," it said.

"That's not okay. It should be you who decides when, how and if you want to be tracked. Collusion will be a powerful tool to help you do that."

Information about which websites you're looking at and how many associated trackers they have, can be presented in graph, list and clock formats. µ


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