How to kill Web trackers dead

Abine's DoNotTrackPlus browser plug-in stops trackers in their tracks -- and it's free. My new Web mantra: Don't track me, bro.

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Here’s fair warning to all social media data scavengers, ad tracking companies, and analytics snoops on the InterWebs: There’s a new anti-tracking sheriff in town.

Today, online privacy company Abine Inc. unveiled a new browser widget called, appropriately enough, DoNotTrackPlus (because these days everything has to come with a plus sign – thank you, Google). I’ve been taking it for a spin this morning and I gotta say it’s pretty slick.

DNT+ keeps more than 600 ad networks and other Web trackers from depositing tracking cookies on your hard drive. It also tells you who they are. Period, full stop. (However, it won't do anything about tracking cookies that have already been deposited on your computer; you'll have to manually delete those.)

Getting DNT+ to work is painless – download, click “Install,” and you’re done. I didn’t even have to restart my browser. Visit any site, and the DNT+ ticker in the upper right corner of your browser tells you how many Web trackers are embedded within it. Click the ticker to see the types of trackers and who they belong to.

For example, DNT+ detected 17 trackers on the very site you’re now reading (ITworld.com).

* Three of them are social media sharing buttons (Facebook, G+, Twitter). They will still work if you click them, but they won’t record the fact you’re looking at this page if you do nothing (which Facebook, at least, has been known to do).

* Three are ad networks (Dedicated Networks, Quantcast, and AppNexus). By blocking them, DNT+ keeps them from capturing any information about you.

* 11 are classified as “trackers,” though most of these are also ad networks (like Doubleclick) as well as things like Google Analytics.

DNT+ also keeps a running tally of all the trackers it has blocked as you surf. It took me about 30 minutes of casual surfing to blast past the 100 mark. And that’s it in a nutshell. Really simple, highly useful, and did I mention it’s free?

This is not an original idea by any stretch. DNT+’s main competition, so to speak, is another free add-on called Ghostery, which has been downloaded by more than 2 5 million surfers. (Another free tool called Collusion shows you how different Web sites are connected via these trackers.)

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