Tracker Free

TL;DR: This Site is crafted lovingly to reduce your exposure to the global surveillance apparatus, meaning Google, Cloudflare, Facebook, and other “social” sites. You should take this and other aspects of privacy and rights seriously.

The Problem

The internet was never designed with privacy in mind. That isn't because privacy wasn't important to its inventors, rather it was because they never saw the abuses coming.

Today, most sites will instruct your browser, deliberately or accidentally, to reveal to Google (almost certainly), and a variety of social sites, that you have visited. You, gentle reader, and not merely “someone”, because thanks to browser profiling, cookies, and a host of other factors you can usually be identified with uncanny accuracy even if you think you're logged out and incognito.

Some of the ways this happens:

  • Deliberate efforts by the website owner to spy on you, by installing Google “Analytics” (spyware) scripts and other trackers. Ethical website owners run their own analytics applications, but they are few and far between.
  • Using proprietary browsers like Google Chrome, MS Edge, Apple Safari, etcetera, that are designed specifically to spy on you.
  • Loading of Images, Videos, Fonts, CSS files and Javascript from “Content Delivery Networks” and repositories. Most such repositories for CSS and JS are owned by Google, and of course the biggest video repository is Google-owned, also. Whenever you request these files, you announce who you are.
  • Third-party cookies, which, if enabled, scream vigorously who you are and where you are. Turn these off in your browser, they are not required for anything and you won't suffer for it. They are toxic and unnecessary.
  • Non-https connections, which let anyone between you and the site observe you and even inject malicious code to track you even more viciously. ISPs around the world have been caught injecting such malware into customers’ traffic many times.
  • Intermediation by CloudFlare, who get to spy on your traffic whenever you visit a “protected” site. CloudFlare and other load balancers are usually not required by the sites that use them, and their on-top position makes them the perfect passive spy.

My Solution and Suggestions

I host this site on my own hardware, using Caddy webserver which enforces TLS (HTTPS). I build the site with Hugo, and I modified the theme I chose, Blackburn, to remove trackers wherever I could find them and to locally serve all Javascript, CSS, fonts, and images. Wheresoever I could, I have removed all means of tracking that are within my power to control. For everything else, it's your responsibility to start protecting yourself.

At the minimum, I suggest the following steps to improve your privacy. All of these apply equally to Firefox for Android as to Chromium or Firefox.

  1. Disable “Third-Party” Cookies (the most awful kind) in your browser. They all make this awkward and hide it, because they all (to varying extents) profit from injuring your privacy. Go to the effort of finding out how, and do it right away. You will never need them, and you won't regret it.
  2. Install HTTPS Everywhere in your browser
  3. Install uBlock Origin ad-blocker, and enable some of the better tracker/privacy lists.
  4. Install Self-Destructing Cookies in Firefox, and Vanilla Cookies in Chromium, and configure them to preserve only the cookies you need for your favourite sites and logins.