privacy

Privacyfix plug-in protects your privacy in Chrome browser

Users of Google's web browser Chrome who are looking for a robust way to protect their privacy when surfing on the Web will find it in Privacyfix, a new add-on released Tuesday.

PrivacyFix start page

The browser extension lets you control what data is collected from you by Google, Facebook, and other websites, as well as giving you the reins to control who is tracking your activity on the Internet.

In addition, the extension provides you with a "Health Bar" that can be accessed from the Chrome toolbar and  gives you important privacy information about the website that you're currently visiting.

Installation tips

While Privacyfix is easy to install, it does take a little more effort to set up than a typical Chrome add-on.

As you install the extension, an ominous warning will appear on your screen. It explains that Privacyfix will access data from any website you visit, read and modify your browser history, access any tags you open, manage your apps and extensions, and manipulate a website's access to your cookies, JavaScript and plug-ins. Of course, all that access is necessary for Privacyfix to do its job.

It can take up to 30 seconds for the add-on to launch once you agree to install it. It's also a little slow updating its privacy settings for places like Google and Facebook.

For Facebook, the add-on lets you control how your profile is shared. For example, you can prevent your profile from being shared with apps that your friends use. You can also block your "likes" from being used to endorse advertising without your knowledge. Facebook widgets can also be stymied from tracking you on websites outside the social network.

When you choose to change a Facebook privacy setting in Privacyfix, you're taken to the appropriate section of Facebook for doing so. So Privacyfix acts as a gateway into Facebook's privacy settings. However, while in those settings, it will give you on-screen advice about how to modify them to maximize your privacy.

Privacyfix will also let you configure Google. It will permit you to stop Google from maintaining any historic record of your web searches, for example, and block Google from collecting data about you as you flit about the Net.

The add-on will also allow you to look at recently visited websites and tag those that reserve the right to share your information with other sites. If you want a site to purge itself of any information it has collected about you, Privacyfix will help you generate a letter asking the website to do so.

Privacy analysis of sites

PrivacyFix analysis of NYTimes.com

Another nice feature of the extension's website analysis capabilities is its ability to show you an in-depth privacy analysis of any site you're visiting. That analysis includes an outline of a website's privacy policies and a list of who's tracking you at the website.

Privacyfix also allows you to block more than 1000 companies that profile your behavior as you travel on the Web. When the add-on is blocking cookies for a site, an icon will appear on the Chrome toolbar. If you want to turn cookies on for a particular site, you can do it by clicking the icon.

Health Bar

PrivacyFix Health Bar

The Health Bar is also available from the Chrome toolbar. It gives you quick information about a site such as whether it will share your personal information are not, retain your personal information after you leave the site, and whether or not Facebook and Google tracking is blocked. It will also let you access a site's privacy policy or delete cookies with a single click.

While there are other cross-platform plug-ins to protect your privacy, such as Cocoon and Do Not Track Plus, Privacyfix is a treat for Chrome users that's fun to use, easy on the eyes, and gives you a measure of control over your data on the Net.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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