Collusion – amazing tool to track the trackers

Posted on 03/13/2012

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A small crowd of tracking companies pops in as I browse the web

We know we are being followed in the web. But the extent to which we are tracked and the consequences of this fact have been something we are hardly aware of. Until now. A great application called Collusion allows you to track the trackers!

From March 2012 on we are being officially followed by Google, who integrated its services: from now on Google search history, the content of Gmail and the movies watched on YouTube serve the company to collect information about our preferences, desires and fears.

Did you write to a friend from London that you’re planning to visit her? Did you search for the information about some illness? Don’t be astonished, should the information about cheap hotels in London and the offers from doctors located nearby appear in your ad blocks. Although some information that is collected can be “disabled” by visiting google.com/history, this would not change too much. According to the activists of Electronic Freedom Foundation this will not stop data collection, but only make them “partially anonymous” after 18 months. Whatever such a vague term means…

Google is spying openly, in contrast to the majority of the companies who spy out of hiding. Lack of transparency  is unsettling. That is why Gary Kovacs, the CEO of Mozilla company in cooperation with Ford Foundation decided this must have a stop. A recently published Firefox add-on called “Collusion” (mozilla.org/collusion) allows to track the trackers. It creates the real time network of pages that exchange information with the sites we visit. With Collusion you can literally recreate the network of companies that track you. In half an hour dozens of them will appear on the Collusion graph (see the picture on the top).

For example, most popular sites in the Polish internet cooperate with entities such as gemius.pl, doubleclick.net, tradedoubler.com, atdmt.com or adocean.pl, which – without your consent – share or trade information about you. These companies, based on your net performance, attribute specified interests and approximate personal features to your IP and try to merge them into one virtual “personality”. Profiles made in the process are worth millions.

It seems privacy in the web has been long dead. We should be aware that somewhere there in front of the desk, there sits someone who is patiently sewing all our clicks to produce the Golden Fleece.


More information about Collusion and the issues of privacy available (in Polish) in this article.

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