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Block Trackers

When it comes to the ones we love, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to protect them. Here’s a guide to show you how to block trackers.

How to block trackers

Cookies are used by websites to store “stateful” information in a web browser. Normal cookies, when properly implemented, are more or less harmless and improve the convenience of web surfing. Cookies record whether you are logged in to a site, which links you’ve visited, and where you left off the last time you watched a video. These types of cookies are used exclusively by the site that created them.

Then there are tracking cookies, also known as persistent cookies or third-party cookies. Unlike other cookies, tracking cookies remain active even when visiting sites that they did not originate from. Tracking cookies follow the user around, collecting data about their browsing habits over a long period of time. This data can be accessed by advertising networks like Google’s to serve targeted advertisements.

In the recent court case, Google utilized tracking cookies to gather data on users visiting Nickelodeon’s website, who were mostly children.

To stop these cookies, we just need to install Disconnect or Ghostery. These free apps block tracking cookies using databases of known trackers.

Turn off interest-based ads in Google

If you have an account with Google, be it Gmail or Drive or just a signed-in Android phone, Google will serve you interest-based ads by default. Using the information from your search queries, tracking cookies, and other sources, it can target parents and their children with tailored advertisements. Google operates the world’s largest online advertising network, and ads from companies on that network appear pretty much everywhere, both on and off websites owned by it.

Navigate to accounts.google.com and click “Sign-in and Security”. Here you’ll find several settings related to privacy and security. You can find out more about some of the major ones in this article. For now, scroll down and click on the section that says “Manage ad settings.” Here you can toggle off interest-based ads that appear on pages owned by Google.

Now for the tricky part. We still need to switch off these ads on pages not owned by Google, which is the greater concern. On the current page, scroll down a bit further and click the button that reads “Control signed-out ads.” This will load an almost identical page, where you can again toggle the switch to opt out.

Alternative Search Engine

Google controls most of the world’s search market, and one of the most powerful ways it can target everyone with ads, including kids, is by analysing what they search for. The only way to stop it from snooping on what you search for is to stop using Google altogether.

DuckDuckGo is a popular search engine among privacy advocates because it doesn’t use tracking cookies, log IP addresses, or monitor the links you click on in search results.

However, thanks to sheer mass, Google has the advantage of being a superior search engine in most cases. So how do you get Google search results without using Google? The answer is StartPage. StartPage acts as a middleman between the user and Google. It takes your search terms, removes all identifying information, and submits it to Google on your behalf. StartPage doesn’t record your IP address, log your visit, or use tracking cookies. It can even be added to Chrome as the default search engine.

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