Internet Privacy ImplicationsPublic
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Our research focused on understanding the effectiveness of browsers, extensions, mobile applications, and search engines and their protection of user privacy. We ran test cases on the top 100 Alexa sites, using a Fiddler proxy to capture traffic, with certain configurations of tools mentioned to see which ones were efficient in blocking user tracking technologies. We found that Brave and Firefox in Strict mode are the best browsers in terms of tradeoff between percent of websites with degradation versus percent trackers remaining. uBlock Origin, Ghostery and Privacy Badger are the best browser extensions in terms of the same tradeoff. Based on our results, we created a recommendation system using a survey approach. We suggest a combination of tools that are personalized to users based on their reported privacy preferences and desire to switch their current browsing setup. In order to better understand users’ views on privacy, we additionally showed participants their own data Google has synthesized about them to evaluate if that would change their responses. A ceiling effect appeared in our responses, indicating that no matter the condition, all our participants indicated a willingness to switch to the tools that we were recommending.
- This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
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