Saturday, February 11, 2012

New free tool promises to block tracking cross-browser, as much 4x speed-up on some sites

A newly released free tool, "Do Not Track Plus" (DNT+) promises to go beyond the standard private browsing settings that are available in most browsers in its ability to block websites from tracking you, while at the same time reducing page load times by as much as four times, on some sites.

Released in version 1.0 on Thursday (it had been released in beta form last year, but for Firefox only. That version was downloaded more than a million times, according to developer Abine. The new version is cross-browser and cross-platform and works wtih Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari (sorry Opera fans). It's also cross-platform, running on both Mac OS and Windows.

As a result of its blocking, you'll see some ads blocked --- not all, though. And Abine says that unlike most anti-tracking tools, DNT+ allows users continue to use social-sharing buttons even though the software blocks social tracking.

Once installed, DNT+ allows users to see who is tracking them on each website they visit. It currently blocks 580 different tracking technologies and more than 200 tracking companies. Users can set tracking to be blocked or allowed on a per-site basis.

You can download the app from Abine's website. It uses C|Net's site, and will redirect to an appropriate version for your browser. Indeed, that's a slight drawback: although it works on four browsers, you have to install an app / plug-in / extension for each one.

The tool will automatically update to block new tracking technologies and companies.

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One caveat: if you install the Chrome extension, it will warn you after installation that "due to a Chrome limitation," DNT+ doesn't work as well on Chrome as on other browsers, but that the next release of Chrome (not DNT+, apparently) will remedy that.

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