Privacy Control Tools, As You Browse


How can you keep users aware of the privacy choices of their browsing? There’s a new crop of visual tools that let the Internet-user see who is tracking her, placing cookies on her computer, and talking to other sites about her — that are built in to the browsing experience.

Collusion is an add-on in Firefox that keeps track of all requests for information about you, and which sites are talking to which other sites. Its soon to be expanding capabilities, to let you blast connections away, and stop the tracking.

Netograph is a site-by-site tool, that Before You Click, will tell you all the trackers and other privacy-problems with the site you are about to visit. Check out the mess of trackers nested at

Abine is another add-on for your browser (at least for Firefox) that has a drop-down menu that tells you which Social Networks, Ad Networks, and other companies are trying to track you or have deposited cookies on your computer. It lets you block selectively, or wholesale block all trackers. It builds off the previous TACO project. And it has the visual of ‘Risk Meter’ to gauge how creepy a site is.

And the Wall Street Journal’s center on privacy online has lots of cool visuals profiling some of the major sites in use in the USA. Its not yet built into browsing experience, but it has some fun graphics.

And here is there list of creepy sites.

So now the task is set: which of these visuals work best at communicating privacy consequences of browsing — and how can they be built ambiently into the browsing experience?