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Improve web privacy and security using Do Not Track

Nearly 500 years ago Sir Francis Bacon said "Knowledge is power." It was never more true than it is today and everything you do and everywhere you go on the internet someone is tracking or attempting to track your activities. When you visit a website the site and advertisers want to know which pages you look at, what links you click on, where you came from, where you go to, what adverts you have seen, what adverts you have clicked on and so on. Some people see this as an invasion of privacy and even a security issue. If this worries you then you are not alone, so what can be done about it? One thing you can do is use a web browser that supports a technology called Do Not Track.

With Do Not Track enables in a web browser, the browser sends a message to the website indicating that you have chosen not to have your activities tracked. It is not compulsory and the site and advertisers can ignore the request, but some large companies do respect the settings. This means that Do Not Track isn't perfect by any means, but it is a a useful step in the right direction and where possible, you privacy will be respected.

Internet Explorer 9: Click the gear icon in the top right corner and select Manage add-ons. Select Tracking Protection on the left in the window that is displayed and then click Get a Tracking Protection list online. A web browser window opens and you can choose one of the lists from those offer. Fanboy and EasyList are popular ones, but there are lists for teens and kids too. Just click the Add button. Make sure it is enabled by selecting it in the Manage Add-ons window and clicking the Enable button if it is not automatically made active.

Firefox 5-10: Firefox has had this option since about version 5 of the browser. Click the Firefox button in the top left corner and then Options. Click Privacy in the toolbar and then tick the box Tell websites I do not want to be tracked.

Do Not Track

Safari 5: Go to Preferences in Safari and click the Advanced icon. Tick the box that says Show Develop menu in the menu bar. On Windows you'll need to click the gear icon and then select Show menu bar, but on the Mac it's always visible. On the Develop menu is Send Do Not Track HTTP Header. Make sure it is ticked.

Do Not Track

Chrome: Google doesn't support this facility, but there is a Chrome extension called Keep My Opt-Outs. It is not quite the same, but it does enable you to prevent many advertisers from tracking your activities. Go to www.aboutads.info for more information and www.aboutads.info/choices/ to see which companies are customising adverts specifically for you. It dislays your opt-out choices.