Mozilla’s new Lightbeam add-on lets you know who is tracking you online

lightbeam

Ever wonder what cookies websites are adding to your computer when you’re online? Ever wonder what websites are tracking your browsing habits and how? Well a new Firefox add-on by Mozilla is designed to help you learn just that. Lightbeam, the new add-on, is designed to tell you exactly how websites are tracking you.

This extension creates a graph of all the tracking cookies being added to your computer by websites. The user-friendly graph can help you differentiate between behavioral tracking cookies vs non-behavioral ones, which gives you an idea of what sites are using advertisements based on the behavioral tracking cookies.

Aside from graph mode, Lightbeam allows you to track your cookie additions two other ways, list and clock. When you look at the list view you obtain a list of sites that have added cookies to your browser and offers you the option to zoom in on a specific site. The graph view shows you each site you visited and the third party requests. The clock view shows you all of your cookie connection over a twenty-four hour period.

Aside from showing you information regarding tracking cookies, the information Lightbeam gathers from your computer is shared in a global database so that others can see how websites connect to each other via first-party and third-party cookies.

It should be noted not all cookies are bad. Cookies are a useful part of the world wide web and used to properly personalize user experience, such as store cart contents, set user preferences, and even autofill information. Lightbeam focuses on tracking cookies, to help you be aware of who is tracking you so you can be better prepared when you go online.

If you have Firefox, you can grab Lightbeam from Firefox’s add-on repository.

[via ArsTechnica]

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4 comments

  1. Yikes

    Nice tool! But it shows that Firefox “Clear History” doesn’t clear cookies even though box is checked. CCleaner does though. Time to set CCleaner to auto clean on startup.

    DotTech is clean though. ;)

  2. Steve B

    [@Bob] Quite right too !!
    But if you click the link there is more info…
    “You may contribute your data to our crowdsourced directory by simply turning on the share switch within the add-on. To disable crowdsourcing, you can turn it off at any time.” :)

  3. colpha

    Nice review. I haven’t tried the new add-on under its new name, lightbeam, but looking at the screenshot, I would say that I like the simplicity of collusion. I wish Mozilla improves and add some more features in it such as cleaning the cookies, whitelisting/blacklisting incoming cookies, and a safe mode that work as a sandbox – anything you throw at it, once you exit from Firefox, there will be no trace of additional cookies.

  4. Bob

    “Aside from showing you information regarding tracking cookies, the information Lightbeam gathers from your computer is shared in a global database so that others can see how websites connect to each other via first-party and third-party cookies.”

    I’d consider this the main part of this story, a plugin that gathers info from your computer and you casually mention it in passing. What does it collect and can you opt out.

    This is an article on online privacy, not impressed.