Here are some projects whose efforts you might want to follow instead, along with some thoughts on what we learned:
If you are interested in software to protect your privacy online, we recommend the Privacy Badger project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Privacy Badger incorporates technical research done by Jonathan Mayer, an affiliate of Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society. Privacy Badger also leverages Do Not Track, which both Jonathan Mayer and Aleecia M. McDonald (Director of Privacy) worked on for several years.
If you are interested in Mozilla’s thoughts on building privacy into the Firefox web browser, you can follow the progress of the new Polaris project. Their new privacy features were not released as of November, 2014. Technically savvy users can experiment with their early release, as they explain. We hope there will be a good outcome from this effort but cannot recommend it for general use until it becomes more accessible to typical users.
There are currently a large number of projects to help users manage cookies. The next phase of user tools will likely need to integrate not only HTTP cookie management, but other forms of tracking from HTML 5 and other LSOs, canvas fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting, and new technologies as they evolve. For those working on privacy tools, we share three ideas from Cookie Clearinghouse that you may find useful to adopt:
- Consent for tracking cookies has been important. We wanted to give users a more granular way of denoting they consented to the cookies they received. After numerous conversations with leading tech companies we concluded that setting an attribute on a cookie would be the easiest way to do so, and would require minimal changes to legacy source code.
- We wanted to give companies a way to continue to set and read cookies if we misclassified them as trackers. We borrowed the challenge / response structure from the way IP takedowns work.
- Since the Internet is a big place, we planned to rely upon crowd sourcing for data. We continue to strongly believe in the value of user-contributed data. However, starting with a “blank slate” as we
would have done will put new projects off to a slow start. A partnership for initial tracker data plus crowd sourcing for fine tuning and future data might be the winning mix.
Thanks again for your interest. We look forward to many interesting privacy projects in the coming years.