2015 has been a momentous year for Privacy Badger and EFF’s Do Not Track policy. This year saw the launch of Privacy Badger 1.0, which now has more than 600,000 daily users. It also saw the launch of EFF's Do Not Track policy, supported by a coalition of companies from the content creation, tracker blocking, and advertising tech industries.
We released version 1.0 of Privacy Badger on August 5, which replaced version 0.2.6 released earlier this year. Version 1.0 contained several enhancements: support for multiple languages (Italian, Spanish, Chinese, German, French, Dutch, English, and Swedish at the time of this writing); massive UI improvements; an options page for more fine-grained control; and improvements to the tracker detection and blocking engines. In the next year we plan to improve the tracker detection and blocking code, as well as make Privacy Badger faster and easier to use.
On August 3, EFF, Disconnect and a coalition of four (now five) other partners announced an implementation of “Do Not Track” (DNT) for Web browsing—this new policy standard, coupled with privacy software, will better protect users against sites that try to secretly follow and record their Internet activity. Trackers are blocked, while sites that adopt the DNT policy and respect users' privacy have their ads unblocked. This combination of deterrent and reward provides an incentive for advertisers and data collection companies to respect a user’s choice not to be tracked online, and encourages them to develop advertising technologies that do the same.
The EFF and Disconnect’s partners in this launch are the innovative publishing site Medium, major analytics service Mixpanel, popular ad- and tracker-blocking extension AdBlock, and private search engine DuckDuckGo. Since the launch, the ad-tech company Adzerk has also joined. New partners have already signed up and will be announced in early 2016.
The year also saw some heated public debates about the legitimacy of ad- and tracker-blocking technologies, with some arguing against ad blocking, some arguing for it, and some reframing the debate entirely. Some of the biggest names in tech stepped into the fray as well. Apple launched its easy-to-use content blocking API for Safari on iOS. Mozilla launched a feature called “Tracking Protection Lists” in Firefox to help defend its users against online tracking. Mozilla also launched an iOS app to block trackers, making use of Apple’s new API.
It was certainly a busy year for privacy advocates on the web. We have made significant gains this year, but there is still much work to be done in the new year.
This article is part of our Year In Review series; read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2015. Like what you're reading? EFF is a member-supported nonprofit, powered by donations from individuals around the world. Join us today and defend free speech, privacy, and innovation.