Opting-Out of Tracking Cookies

If you have not done so recently, it's a good idea to visit the tracking cookie opt-out page. With a few clicks you can block cookies from Doubleclick and six other Internet tracking/marketers. Ironically, you must allow the site to set a “no thanks” cookie, so cookie blockers must be turned off to make this work.

If you use more than one browser, you'll also need to repeat the exercise for each one.

Update: Ed Bott has even better suggestions.

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11 Responses to Opting-Out of Tracking Cookies

  1. Pingback: Ed Bott - Windows (and Office) Expertise

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Any thoughts or theories about why all my attempts at opting out are “unsucessful”? I’m using Firefox. Appreciate any advice or input.

  3. Michael says:

    Have you tried manually deleting all existing cookies from those people? Then make sure that

    1. you have not blocked them in firefox from setting cookies (the most common reason)

    2. you don’t have any other cookie blocker/proxy running

    and try the site again.

    I should say that I’ve never had all seven work for me in a firefox session, but I have gotten six out of seven.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    I have Firefox set to accept cookies, and I don’t think I have a cookie blocker running. I can only get one to work. I’ve been e-mailing with the companies that don’t facilitate opting out (opt outing?) at their own sites independently and here is one question I was asked: “Are you trying to Opt Out of receiving BehaviorLink advertisements or GAIN advertisements?” Sheesh.

  5. Bob says:

    Isn’t it ironic that blocking tracking cookies is suggested, where discourse.net home page has 7 web bugs, including a couple 3rd party “counters,” plus extra referral tracking? Adblock is good for putting a stop to those in FireFox. 🙂 https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=10

  6. michael says:

    Eh? There are two “external” counters: one to sitemeter which is truly external, and one to dreamhost.com which in fact I control. (The sitemeter external counter is there primarily for ranking in the TLB ecosystem. You are of course free to block it.)

    There’s an internal — NOT external — referrer tracker, which produces the list in the left column but keeps no personal information. I think it’s interesting to see who links here. You are of course free to block that too.

    There is an administrative MT cookie or two which is entirely private for me and has nothing to do with the public. And there is a style cookie you can set for the style switcher which is utterly optional.

    How on earth do you get SEVEN web bugs out of that? Just by counting externally-hosted images? A “web bug” is a 1×1 invisible gif or jpeg placed for tracking purposes. Where exactly in the code for this page do you see those?

    PS. Adblock is great.

  7. Bob says:

    You don’t control dreamhost.com’s use of counter information. You only control your choice to use the counter. Interesting you say I’m free to block; what if you said otherwise?

    Yes, I counted externally hosted images, and scripts. Web bugs are not always invisible (http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Marketing/web_bug.html , item 3), and imho are not always images. However, I should have said “possible” web bugs. I should not have implied you intentionally web bugged. The point is cookies are not the only thing used for tracking.

    Discourse.net, 3rd-party blockable content (images and/or scripts); Every time I visited your site, they all knew it:
    1) counter.dreamhost.com (script)
    2) sitemeter.com (javascript)
    3) feedburner.com (script?)
    4) iraqbodycount.net (script?)
    5) costofwar.com (javascript)
    6) truthlaidbear.com (script)
    7) blogshares.com

    Statistics: Lies, damn lies, and statistics. 🙂 Sorry if blocking hurts your TLB ecoranking. Adblock has become an obsession.

  8. Ed Bott says:

    Bob, I think your definition of “web bugs” and “trackers” is extreme, and I’d be interested in seeing a quotation from any reputable privacy or security authority who comes close to agreeing with it. By your definition, ANY third-party content is hostile. That’s absurd, in my opinion.

    Every one of the items you mention in your list has a legitimate purpose that can easily be ascertained. That is in direct contradiction to the definition of a “web bug” that you cite, which refers to “images that are used for monitoring purposes.” The truthlaidbear.com script pulls in the site’s current ranking from an external site and displays it on the page. The Blogshares.com link is a third-party image file that allows visitors to click and see the ranking for the site. All of the other snippets of code or links you mention are similarly benign. The only item on your list that is used for monitoring is SiteMeter. I use SiteMeter myself. It’s a very useful service that performs functions I could accomplish with my own server logs, but does it better and more efficiently by using a specialized server.

    Whenever you visit a Web site, it is a reasonable assumption that you will find some third-party-hosted content. You need to decide whether you trust the owner of the Web site to only link to third-party content that is free of privacy violations and will be used in an ethical way.

    All of the information that is going to third parties is also appearing in Prof. Froomkin’s own server logs. That’s a pretty limited selection of information – your IP address and browser version, primarily. No personal information there. Serious question: If you don’t trust the Professor to link to trustworthy third parties, why are you visiting his site in the first place?

  9. thomas says:

    your IP address and browser version, primarily. No personal information there.

    umm. not to be picky, but…
    if you have a static IP, why isn’t that “personal information”?
    with it one can potentially ascertain your name, address, isp, etc.

  10. Ed Bott says:

    From a static IP address, you can indeed suss out who my ISP is, and you can get a general idea of my geographic location. But unless you have access to the database of account information at my ISP, you cannot get my name or address from my IP address.

    Anyway, if I have a static IP address, it gets transmitted to every single Web site I visit. That’s the way the Web works. If you feel that your IP address is personally identifiable information, then you shouldn’t use the Web, or you should use an anonymizing proxy. And again, I would like to see anyone who is a security or privacy expert who agrees with that interpretation.

  11. Bob says:

    Ed, Sorry I took a while; almost decided to quit visiting this site (only a joke).

    > I think your definition of “web bugs” and “trackers” is extreme
    http://www.extreme-dm.com/tracking/
    Extreme tracking indeed. It’s all about small (not tiny) images and javascript.
    Do a search for “javascript tracking code” and some of Richard M. Smith’s articles.
    http://grc.com/faq-privacy.htm

    > By your definition, ANY third-party content is hostile. That’s absurd, in my opinion.
    I said they can be used for tracking. It’s no more absurd than saying cookies can be used for tracking.

    > You need to decide whether you trust the owner of the Web site to only link to third-party content that is free of privacy violations and will be used in an ethical way.
    Alternatively, you can find a way to avoid or minimize the 3rd party content, like using Adblock, similar to avoiding cookies.

    >All of the information that is going to third parties is also appearing in Prof. Froomkin’s own server logs.
    Technically maybe, but with blinders on. The 3rd parties, especially the statistics sites, get more information because they get data from your browsing at multiple sites. For example, sitemeter records me going here, then to your site… Prof. Froomkin doesn’t know I went to your site, unless I click-thru his referral tracker, or if you guys share info like the statistics/tracker folks.
    http://philip.greenspun.com/seia/basics (See Figure 2/2.2)

    > Every one of the items you mention in your list has a legitimate purpose that can easily be ascertained.
    Always do. Doubleclick would say they help customize banner ads to fit our interests, for our benefit. Google (with custom search, and sometimes a cool google image) helps you find things. Prof. Froomkin wouldn’t put them there for no reason. BTW, I missed the custom search the first time, but it’s only a bug if you use it (I think).

    >your IP address and browser version, primarily.
    http://network-tools.com/analyze/
    Where you came from (referral), whether java or javascript are running, details on plugins, operating system, even my local time.

    > why are you visiting his site in the first place?
    Kinda’ personal isn’t that? Come here often? 🙂 Maybe it has something to do with freetotravel and such. Nobody can keep up with all the privacy issues. Those trackers are tricky.

    > if I have a static IP address, it gets transmitted to every single Web site I visit.
    And because of web bugs, or potential web bugs (3rd party supplements, or whatever we should call them), it gets transmitted to more than one Web site, for every “single” site you visit.

    >or you should use an anonymizing proxy.
    Is this a good time to suggest looking at Tor from EFF? Maybe it was just a coincidence that network-tools got my correct local time, but I suspect is was the darn javascript.

    —–

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