Electronic Frontier Foundation Product Review: Privacy Badger & HTTPS Everywhere
1st of September, 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on users’ civil rights online. The EFF’s main focuses are user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. The technology development aspect of the EFF allows them to provide users with free and powerful software tools in the battle for online privacy. Check out this video by the EFF about the importance on your civil liberties.
Advertisers and third-party trackers attempt to track you across multiple websites online without your knowledge. Privacy Badger is a browser add-on that employs algorithmic methods to determine who is tracking you and subsequently block them. Privacy Badger does this by keeping track of all the the elements that load on a webpage you visit: its main content, ads, etc. If some of these elements appear to be following you as you continue to browse the web, Privacy Badger will step in. Privacy Badger is available for free and recently rolled out its 1.0 version.
Privacy Badger enters a competitive market of ad blockers, many of which outperform an unprimed Privacy Badger Beta. However, because Privacy Badger is created by a not for profit like the EFF, it is at a lower risk of controversies that plague other ad blockers. Anarticle by Gigaom goes into further detail in their review of Privacy Badger. Additional information is also available from PCWorld.
Listen to the EFF Staff Technologist, Noah Swartz, discuss the recently released 1.0 version of Privacy Badger on TWiT Netcast Network.
HTTPS Everywhere (HE) was created as a joint project between the EFF and The Tor Project. This browser extension is available for FireFox, Chrome, and Opera, as well as Android devices. The essence of HE is simple: the extension forces any website you visit that has HTTPS capability to use it. HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), as you may know, is at the beginning of a website’s url and is the basis for data communication on the internet. HTTPS is used when the data is encrypted, as it travels to avoid others from reading our data; this is important for, say, transferring your credit card information during an online purchase. This video from MuchFact shows more.
Many popular internet browsers are moving to require HTTPS by default on their browsers, meaning HE may not be necessary in the foreseeable future. Still, an added layer of security never hurt, as the EFF’s product ensures companies are using an SSL certificate, the S portion of HTTPS.
About Ryan Jeethan
Ryan is a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Arts & Business program focusing on UW’s unique Speech Communication program.