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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
TrackMeNot
    #459481 - 08/13/10 07:04 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

TrackMeNot,  now compatible with Firefox 3.6, is a lightweight browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so not by means of concealment or encryption (i.e. covering one's tracks), but instead, paradoxically, by the opposite strategy: noise and obfuscation. With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are essentially hidden in plain view. User-installed TrackMeNot works with the Firefox Browser and popular search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing) and requires no 3rd-party servers or services.

How It Works

TrackMeNot runs in Firefox as a low-priority background process that periodically issues randomized search-queries to popular search engines, e.g., AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing. It hides users' actual search trails in a cloud of 'ghost' queries, significantly increasing the difficulty of aggregating such data into accurate or identifying user profiles. To better simulate user behavior TrackMeNot uses a dynamic query mechanism to 'evolve' each client (uniquely) over time, parsing the results of its searches for 'logical' future query terms with which to replace those already used.

    Note: TrackMeNot is user-installed and user-managed (integrating into the Firefox 'Tools' menu and including a variety of easily configurable options). Once downloaded, it resides wholly on users' system and functions without the need for 3rd-party servers or services. Placing users in full control is an essential feature of TMN, whose purpose is to protect against the unilateral policies set by search companies in their handling of our personal information.



Why We Created TMN

The practice of logging user search activities and creating individual search profiles - sometimes identifiable - has received attention in mainstream press, e.g. the recent front-page New York Times article on AOL's release of collected data on individual searchers; also this front-page New York Times Business Section article describing the User-Profiling Practices of Yahoo!, AOL, Bing & Google.

We are disturbed by the idea that search inquiries are systematically monitored and stored by corporations like AOL, Yahoo!, Google, etc. and may even be available to third parties. Because the Web has grown into such a crucial repository of information and our search behaviors profoundly reflect who we are, what we care about, and how we live our lives, there is reason to feel they should be off-limits to arbitrary surveillance. But what can be done?

Legal approaches -- urging legislators to support limits on access, or courts to extend Fourth Amendment protection -- might be effective, but would require orchestrated efforts by many parties. Appeals to search companies themselves seem even less hopeful as their interests, at least on the surface, are in direct conflict with such limits. Both, at best, are long term prospects.

We have developed TrackMeNot as an immediate solution, implemented and controlled by users themselves. It fits within the class of strategies, described by Gary T. Marx, whereby individuals resist surveillance by taking advantage of blind spots inherent in large-scale systems1. TrackMeNot may not radically alter the privacy landscape but helps to place a particularly sensitive arena of contemporary life back in the hands of individuals, where it belongs in any free society.

Background

Public awareness of the vulnerability of searches to systematic surveillance and logging by search engine companies, was initially raised in the wake of a case, initiated August 2005, in which the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a subpoena to Google for one week's worth of search query records (absent identifying information) and a random list of one million URLs from its Web index. This was cited as part of its defense of the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). When Google refused, the DOJ filed a motion in a Federal District Court to force compliance. Google argued that the request imposed a burden, would compromise trade secrets, undermine customers' trust in Google, and have a chilling effect on search activities. In March 2006, the Court granted a reduced version of the first motion, ordering Google to provide a random listing of 50,000 URLs, but denied the second motion, namely, the request for search queries.

While viewed from the perspective of user privacy this seems a good outcome, yet it does bring to light several disquieting points. First, from court documents we learn that AOL, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have complied with the government's request, though details are not given. Second, we must face the reality that logs of our online searches are in the hands of search companies and can be quite easily linked to our identities. Thirdly, it is clear we have little idea of, or say in, what can be done with these logs. While, in this instance, Google withheld such records from the Government, it would be foolish to count on this outcome in the future.




http://cs.nyu.edu/trackmenot/


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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460038 - 08/14/10 02:57 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

bump:

easy downloading and installation


https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3173/


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InvisibleDeadHearts

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 707
Loc: ▐▐▐▐▐
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460043 - 08/14/10 03:01 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

:cop:


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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: DeadHearts]
    #460053 - 08/14/10 03:10 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

actually islamo-communist mole working for the Rothschild's


Edited by kyuzo (08/14/10 03:12 PM)


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OfflineFRACTALife
Rust Fuckin' Cohle
Male User Gallery


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Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460056 - 08/14/10 03:12 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

Why did you post that on here?
:diespam:  :spammer:


--------------------


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InvisibleDeadHearts

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 707
Loc: ▐▐▐▐▐
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460059 - 08/14/10 03:13 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

yeah i was just fuckin around. there time here is coming to an end
anyways. mother fuckers are waking up to the truth more and more everyday.


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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: FRACTALife]
    #460062 - 08/14/10 03:15 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

for some strange reason, I had this epiphany that people partaking in the topics usually discussed here might want to effectively protect themselves from unwarranted access to their private information


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InvisibleDeadHearts

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 707
Loc: ▐▐▐▐▐
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460070 - 08/14/10 03:23 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

kyuzo said:
for some strange reason, I had this epiphany that people partaking in the topics usually discussed here might want to effectively protect themselves from unwarranted access to their private information




Make sure you quote the person ur talking to. But anyways I aint mad
atcha. You should have consolidated the original post so its more
"reader friendly" IMO.

But how do you know this actually works and wont slow down or fuck up
people computers?? I didnt read ur post all the way through so if its
explained in there, my apologies.


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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460074 - 08/14/10 03:31 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

We are what we search. If you want to know our curiosities, obsessions, anxieties, and desires, just look at our Internet queries. Companies like Google and Yahoo can already sniff through our digital spoor to personalize advertisements and search results. But the possibility that search data may be used for more sinister purposes, like surveillance by government agencies, makes a lot of people nervous.

Concerns over search privacy have intensified since the news in 2006 that the U.S. Department of Justice had strong-armed Yahoo, MSN, and AOL into turning over some of their search records to help the government defend an online-pornography law. One sign of public angst is the popularity of TrackMeNot, a bit of software that generates a stream of fake queries to mask a user’s true search behavior. Developed by Daniel Howe and Helen Nissenbaum of New York University, TMN has been downloaded half a million times since it first came into use in August 2006.

Other privacy shields are also available for free on the Web. One popular variant, Tor, hides your IP address by routing communications from your computer through proxy nodes. But proxy-based programs like Tor can slow down your surfing and make accessing certain sites harder, as well as leave open the possibility that user data will be intercepted. “We wanted to create software that would empower the user while minimizing these disadvantages,” says Nissenbaum.

The strategy she and Howe chose was to drown out the signal of the user’s search profile in a din of background noise. The first version of TMN randomly picked terms from a static list and fed them into four popular search engines, including Google; to mock the idea of Web surveillance, its creators populated the list with sensitive terms like bomb and HIV. “It freaked people out,” Nissenbaum says. “We got e-mails saying, ‘I like your idea, but I don’t want the FBI to think I am a terrorist.’” In TMN’s more recent versions, the obfuscating terms come from a list that combines recent popular searches and RSS feeds from well-trafficked sites like CNN.com and NYTimes.com. The list evolves over time, uniquely for each user; every once in a while, a randomly selected term is replaced with a new one chosen from the results of a fake search involving that term. And users can tailor the noise by selecting any RSS feed from across the Web as their source for fake terms—an ironic bit of personalizing, given the software’s intent.

But while search privacy may be desirable to users, is it a good thing for society? After all, monitoring searches and responsibly mining search logs can further the common good. For example, epidemiologists use Google search data to track the spread of influenza. Google and other companies also claim that records of searches help them improve their search engines and prevent click fraud—the nefarious and sometimes automated clicking of links by those seeking to drive up their advertising revenue.

In fact, some searches could be viewed as a form of dialogue between citizens and their government. Why shouldn’t what constituents are exploring online be the government’s business in a healthy democracy? A spike in searches on “student loans” in New Orleans, for example, could help education officials decide whether to expand local college-aid programs.

TMN’s creators say such uses would be more palatable if search companies committed to a responsible standard for anonymizing, storing, and purging search data. That includes giving users the option of wiping out all trace of their searches, as Ask.com has done by launching its Eraser feature. Howe says the pressure from privacy advocates is bearing fruit. In September, Google announced that it would anonymize IP addresses stored in search logs after nine months instead of the previous 18-month time frame. “TrackMeNot is a mechanism that allows individuals to say that we are not going to just accept all the conditions imposed by larger actors in the online environment,” Nissenbaum says. “However, the world toward which TrackMeNot strives is one in which it is no longer necessary.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/porn-apos-s-best-friend/7373/


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InvisibleDeadHearts

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 707
Loc: ▐▐▐▐▐
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460076 - 08/14/10 03:34 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

Way to consolidate lol.

But I am definitely picking up what ur laying down. I hope there are
more people on here that agree.


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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: DeadHearts]
    #460080 - 08/14/10 03:39 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

DeadHearts said:Make sure you quote the person ur talking to. But anyways I aint mad
atcha. You should have consolidated the original post so its more
"reader friendly" IMO.




That was actually a reply to FRACTALife.  But on the point of consolidating: it's not my job to spoon feed people.  They can either read the press release, or not.  It makes absolutely no difference to me

Quote:

DeadHearts said:But how do you know this actually works and wont slow down or fuck up
people computers??




It's been on the market for some time and was designed to offer an option over systems that have a distinct negative effect.  But beyond that: Caveat emptor


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InvisibleDeadHearts

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 707
Loc: ▐▐▐▐▐
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: kyuzo]
    #460096 - 08/14/10 03:57 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

kyuzo said:
That was actually a reply to FRACTALife.  But on the point of consolidating: it's not my job to spoon feed people.  They can either read the press release, or not.  It makes absolutely no difference to me.






I know it was meant for Fractal. Thats why I said that. And right on
do what you will. I just think its an important message.

Quote:

kyuzo said:

It's been on the market for some time and was designed to offer an option over systems that have a distinct negative effect.  But beyond that: Caveat emptor




:strokebeard:


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Offlinekyuzo
Stranger Than Fiction

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 981
Last seen: 3 years, 11 months
Re: TrackMeNot [Re: DeadHearts]
    #460235 - 08/14/10 08:35 PM (6 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

DeadHearts said:
Quote:

kyuzo said:
That was actually a reply to FRACTALife.  But on the point of consolidating: it's not my job to spoon feed people.  They can either read the press release, or not.  It makes absolutely no difference to me.






I know it was meant for Fractal. Thats why I said that. And right on
do what you will. I just think its an important message.

Quote:

kyuzo said:

It's been on the market for some time and was designed to offer an option over systems that have a distinct negative effect.  But beyond that: Caveat emptor




:strokebeard:





from my personal experience, I haven't even noticed any slow down on my machine: I've been running 10 searches/min for a few days now(the programs highest setting).

Like it mentions in the "Atlantic" article, the old issue with running controversial terms was ended when the programmers realized it was working against their goals.  And since installing it, i haven't noticed any term that weren't totally innocuous


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