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MyTrackingChoices: An attempt to end the AdBlock war

| | 2016.02.11. 05:18:33  Jagdish Achara  


In the last few years, as a result of the proliferation of intrusive and privacy-invading ads, the use of ad-blockers and anti-tracking tools have become widespread. As of the second quarter of this year, 16% of online Americans, about 45 million people, had installed ad-blocking software, according to PageFair 2015 report. Meanwhile, 77 millions Europeans are blocking ads. All this accounts globally for $21,8 billion worth of blocked ads. The Internet economy is in danger since ads fuel the free content and services over Internet.

As opposed to existing ad blockers that take a binary approach (i.e., block everything if you install them or block nothing otherwise), MyTrackingChoices aims to provide users fine-grained choices about tracking and thereby, categories of Web pages where they're ok or not to receive ads. MyTrackingChoices allows users to choose on which sites (more specifically, on which categories of sites) they want to block the trackers. For example, a user can choose to block the trackers and therefore, ads, on sites related to health or religion, but may choose not to block the trackers on sites related to sports or news.

We assume that a significant proportion of users are not against advertisements, but want to keep control over their data. We believe that some sites are more sensitive than others. In fact, most people don’t want to be tracked on “sensitive” websites (for example related to religion, health,…), but don’t see any problem to be tracked on less sensitive ones (such as news, sport,…). This extension allows you to take control and specify which on which categories of sites you don’t want to be tracked on! Furthermore, the extension also gives you the option to block the trackers on specific websites.

This solution is different from other anti-tracking tools in two ways. First, existing anti-tracking tools give users the option to decide by which entity they don't want to be tracked. However, we believe that most users are concerned with other dimension, i.e., where they don't want to be tracked. Also, this is easy for most users to understand and configure the categories of the websites that are sensitive to them instead of choosing what trackers they want to block. Therefore, we provide this option to users. Secondly, unlike other anti-tracking or ad-blocking tools, we don't block the network requests of all trackers right away because this has an effect on Internet economy. We let user choose the categories (health, religion) of Web-pages that are privacy-sensitive to them and block the trackers on those pages only. 

Tags: web bug, transparency-enhancing technologies, web tracking





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