Thursday, March 8, 2012

I thought I had this privacy thing figured out, but…

…maybe not.

I’m trying out the Collusion plugin for Firefox and the results are interesting. After a couple evenings of my normal surfing routine, the plugin looks like:



As expected, Google appears at or near the center of attraction.


I use the Google suite for anything related to my profession and I use Google’s competition for anything unrelated to my role as an IT professional. My theory is that as a public employee in Minnesota, pretty much everything I do professionally is public anyway, so I figure that there is no net loss to using the Google stack. Winking smile The Collusion plugin shows that I’m merging the two realms far more than I thought.

Also unexpected are several domains that I’ve never heard of, including something called imrworldwide:


I have no idea who they are, but they know more about me than I’d like.

I use Adblock Plus and NoScript plugins and I accept third party cookies, but I clear all cookies each time I close Firefox (once every few weeks), so I’ve assumed that I’m less ‘connectable’ than the typical surfer.

It looks like I’m not as segmented as I thought. I’ve added ‘Antisocial’ and ‘Adversity’ block lists to Adblock Plus.


  1. Yeah, there's usually plenty of alternatives available if you bother to look around a bit. Some are even higher quality, that you could use with not just personal activities.

  2. I see similar, and find that part not overly disturbing. Those linkages, in my case, come from using Google Reader; it's natural that "the big G" wind up accessing a bunch of external sources if I'm using Reader to access a bunch of RSS feeds elsewhere.

    I did some fooling around with Collusion on another Firefox instance where I was using StumbleUpon to find random stuff of interest. THAT turned into a diagram that looks rather more like a deeply intertwined nest of pests (whether you prefer rats or roaches is up to you!).

    If you're aware that you're using Google to search for stuff, it shouldn't be surprising that they know where you go next. What is entirely more disturbing are the number of services that link back to Facebook and; visit any of the "LOLCATS" or "random memes" sites and you'll find your browser pretty heavily polluted with crossreferences to such 'anti-services.'

  3. Matt, Christoper -

    Thanks for the comments.

    I was surprised by the interconnectedness. I'm not trying to drop off the map completely -- I'm really only trying to separate my personal 'persona' from my professional persona, as I'm not fond of the idea of a marketing/advertising company connecting too many dots together.

    It'll be interesting to see if the additional Adblock filters make a difference.