Disable internet tracking, make websites load faster and increase your privacy with these free plugins

By End the Lie

(Image credit: Metamorphosis Foundation/Flickr)

(Image credit: Metamorphosis Foundation/Flickr)

Are you concerned about internet privacy? Does the idea of companies tracking you across the web creep you out? Would you like to block popular tracking sites so they can’t harvest and then sell your private data? Do you want websites to load faster?

If you answered yes to any of the above, this simple guide is for you. In the past, I’ve written articles specifically aimed at teaching readers how to block Google’s pervasive tracking technologies and remain anonymous online.

In this article, you will learn how to block hundreds of other sites and services with just a few clicks and no cost to you.

With people becoming more aware of the extent of the U.S. government’s surveillance reach via the PRISM program and XKeyScore, many are seeking to learn how to block tracking by the private sector. Here are some simple ways:

NoScript

Since the so-called “Do Not Track” technology is all but completely worthless in the eyes of industry giants, the most effective way of blocking tracking is to just block the scripts in the first place.

The free Firefox plugin NoScript will block JavaScript, Java, Flash and other browser-based plugins before they load. You have to go through and manually approve each and every website and script which, for some, can be quite annoying.

If you don’t mind spending some extra time when browsing a new site, NoScript is one of the easiest ways to prevent unwanted tracking and other scripts.

If you’d like to use NoScript, just click here to download the plugin. Unfortunately, NoScript only works for Mozilla-based browsers so if you aren’t using Firefox you’re out of luck on that one.

DoNotTrackMe

DoNotTrackMe is the new and improved version of the well-known DoNotTrackPlus plugin. DoNotTrackMe says they can help “stop identity thieves, advertisers, social networks, and spammers from tracking you.”

On their website, the Albine, the company that produces DoNotTrackMe, states that their plugin can block over 600 trackers and help websites load up to 4 times faster.

DoNotTrackMe can be installed not only on Firefox, but also on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Safari. Unlike NoScript, this plugin can be used on just about any computer since it can be installed on all of the major browsers and both Mac and PC.

The company also states that they are actively working on mobile products to help ensure privacy when browsing on smartphones and tablets.

Ghostery

Like DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery is available on all of the major browsers. In addition to all of the browsers DoNotTrackMe is compatible with, Ghostery is available for Opera and iOS.

Ghostery detects all kinds of trackers, ad networks and more that load on a given website you’re visiting. It helps you learn about each of the sites detected by giving you easy access to their privacy policy, a description and some pages where they’ve detected it.

It also helps you block scripts, delete local shared objects and block images and iframes, giving you more control over your browsing experience.

Disconnect

Like the above, Disconnect is a browser plugin. It blocks over 2,000 third-party sites from tracking you, speeds up pages by an average of 27 percent and can force “sites to encrypt your data whenever possible.”

It is available for Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. They also have a version called “Disconnect Kids!” that stops information about your browsing and app activity from leaving your iPhone and/or iPad.

Disconnect is a “name your own price” software package, which means that you can pay anywhere from $0 to $10,000 for their product and split up the contribution between Disconnect and a charity as you see fit.

If you’re unsatisfied, they say they’ll “refund your money for any reason up to a year after you’ve paid (even if we’ve already donated your money).”

Interestingly, the company was formed in 2011 by former Google and DoubleClick engineer Brian Kennish along with consumer- privacy-rights advocate and attorney Casey Oppenheim.

StartPage

The last option, StartPage, is not a browser plugin like the others and will only prevent tracking when conducting internet searches.

StartPage allows you to search Google without your search being recorded and without any identifying information making it over to Google.

“Your IP address is never recorded, your visit is not logged, and no tracking cookies are placed on your browser,” StartPage states. “When it comes to protecting your privacy, Startpage runs the tightest ship on the Internet.”

Indeed, the company itself doesn’t even store your IP address and doesn’t share your information with any third parties, as they outline on their extensive privacy page.

The same company behind StartPage produced Ixquick, which anonymously queries multiple popular search engines at once.

Aside from simply allowing you to anonymously search Google, StartPage also allows you to view search results by proxy, further allowing you to anonymize your browsing experience.

With all of these free tools combined, you can quite easily keep your internet browsing much more private and anonymous.

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