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Start Ad free Browsing


Tarulata Champawat

January 28, 2011

After Start Private Browsing it’s now turn for Start Ad free Browsing. A new feature always imagined and now being worked upon by primary browser developers to ease life of carefree internet user.

Advertisers have always been following, tracking and studying users to know their exact needs. Behavioral targeting technique is often used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the strength of their campaign and jump up sales. This has helped them deliver their online advertisements to users who might be interested. But users who seem interested may not actually be and may end up getting annoyed by unnecessary sales calls. Such advertisement technique is not just restricted to ecommerce sites, but companies outside e-commerce marketplace have also started to display content more relevant to the interests of the individual viewing the page. Till this it is all good. The problem starts when ad agencies spy on users personal information. Trying to get someone’s mail id, phone number, postal address, birth details, family history, financial details and even social status without letting them know is too much. The bigger issue is not just the data being tracked, but it’s limitless retention and reuse.

An increasing number of concerns related to online data collection of personal data raised by various groups including government agencies has led browser giants to think of approaching opt-out online behavioral advertising from different directions.

Various news articles from last couple of days tell about Google and Mozilla developing tracking-protection tools that will work automatically to let people decline personalized, targeted ads.

Indeed a great step designed to guard privacy by browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. This facility is believed to come in the form of downloadable browser plug-in that blocks advertisers most probably from ad networks or alternatively from self created lists of sites alias blacklists users want to block. Such tools shall be made available in not very far future browser releases to help users block advertisers from collecting information about them.

We had lots of privacy setting related features in the past. Most of them worked on the basis of cookies including flash and other plugin cookies. However cookies are also erasable. So with every cookie deletion, the settings fade away leaving one once more in an unidentified pool of websites and advertisements. Also most advertisers follow users around the web, tracking visited sites, clicked links, online purchases made, searches made, and in the case of mobile browsers even location of the user or his travel route. A search for more permanent ad blocking has always been on.

Imagine various unnecessary advertisement emails in mail box, various calls/SMS from unknown sources received daily can all go away with one browser feature turned on.

Hopefully proposed tools like Do Not Track from Mozilla and Adblock Plus from Chrome will be smart enough to restrict advertisers from collecting information about us.

Mozilla plans to create a new HTTP header that will allow Firefox and other browsers to shut off web tracking. The new header would offer a universal way to tell websites that a user wishes to opt-out of third party, advertising-based tracking. Apart from this Microsoft, Google and Mozilla’s promise for stronger privacy support in getting developed a similar plug-in for other browsers as well.

But be aware that No more Tracking will definitely result in no more customized item information for us. So even if I am only interested in women apparels, I will get to see all gender clothes on the web, more huge ads will take over the home page, more floating questionnaires and interruptions will come since ad relevance will have gone away. So our online experience might suffer. Still privacy is most important.

Happy Ad free Browsing.

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