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EFF Do Not Track & some privacy q's

Nick's Avatar


09 Nov, 2015 09:51 AM

Hey Adblock Team!

Today I learned that you have recently agreed to adopt the EFF's new Do Not Track standard, which I think was a very cool move on your part. Thank you for taking this step towards protecting users' privacy! I am now seriously connsidering switching to your add on after learning this news, but if you don't mind I have a few questions first.

  1. Will you be enabling the Do Not Track protection by default for users, or will it by opt-in in the same fashion that Easy Privacy is now? Also why is EasyPrivacy not enabled by default? And do you think the new DNT standard will make the EasyPrivacy list redundant?

  2. I see that you are also adhering to the Acceptable Ads manifesto, which I believe is a good move (especially now that they're working on becoming more transparent and independent), but what will happen in a situation where an ad DOES meet the Acceptable Ads criteria but does NOT meet the EFF DNT criteria for privacy? Will the ad be allowed? Or will you be requiring ads to be compliant with BOTH standards in order to be whitelisted? I personally hope it is the latter option, because the user's privacy is more important than simply having annoying ads blocked. For this reason, hope you will enforce the DNT privacy standard at all times, regardless of the ad's compliance with the Acceptable Ads criteria.

  3. Is there any way to opt out of the analytics your addon sends back to mother ship? To my knowledge, neither Adblock Plus nor uBlock origin has any type of telemetry or analytics built in. If I had not manually read your privacy policy, I wouldn't have otherwise assumed that you weren't collecting a single byte of information from my browsing activities. If you guys want to pitch your addon as being privacy protecting, I think you need to make the analytics functionality more obvious to your new users. I realize the data is supposed to be anonymous, but I would prefer being able to make that choice myself. If the telemetry was strictly optional, I would consider opting in to help out your development team. You just have to ask nicely first :)

Thanks for your time, I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Neelfyn on 11 Nov, 2015 09:52 PM

    Neelfyn's Avatar

    Hi Nick!

    Gabriel (AdBlock's director) is very busy lately so I'll try my best to answer your questions with what I know at the moment.

    1. Do Not Track:
      • There are a couple different ways DNT could be used to improve AdBlock, but this is still very much work in progress while we're figuring it out. :) This of course depends on the way it is implemented, but it is more likely to be enabled by default than not.
      • One downside of enabling many filter lists is that it increases memory usage, which could be an issue on older computers. We've actually started enabling the Malware protection filter list by default for new users this year, and have discussed doing the same for EasyPrivacy on a few occasions.
      • I don't think EasyPrivacy will be made redundant by the new DNT standard in the short term as not every website complies with it. I recommend having a read of Understanding EFF’s Do Not Track Policy: A Universal Opt-Out From Tracking if you haven't seen it already.
    2. Acceptable Ads:
      • Did you know that Acceptable Ads going independent was actually Katie's (Michael's wife) idea? :)
      • Those are some very good questions about the way DNT can interact with AA, and I'm afraid that I don't know the answers to them yet. AA should evolve in the coming months with the transparency changes, and I'm sure that privacy will also be an important part of the equation.
    3. Analytics/telemetry:
      • To clarify, AdBlock doesn't collect any information about your browsing activity. Only general information about your setup is collected (such as the version of AdBlock you're running, some of its settings, your operating system, the version of your browser…), as well as the last error that AdBlock encountered (with any URLs stripped out from it). This helps us for example identify issues with specific configurations that might not have been caught during testing and have a fix out faster.
      • Currently, the only way to disable this would be to download the source code, edit it, and run a local modified version of AdBlock for yourself, but we are planning on adding an option that will allow disabling this easily in the future.
      • On Chrome, there is also an option to send us more data about the filter lists that you use, but it is disabled by default, and only available for advanced users.

    Hope this answers your questions! I definitely appreciate your feedback, and will bring up your thoughts with the rest of the team.

    -- Neelfyn

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