more on going stealth online

I’ve been trying to extricate myself from Google’s All Seeing Gaze. (for more info on why, see this article linked by @brlamb).

There are plugins and opt-out cookies etc… but all of those work only in the browser. Often, in just a specific browser. I think I’ve found a better way. No opt-out. Works for any app that touches The Tubes.

Just modify your /etc/hosts file to include the contents of this great shared .hosts file. All requests for nefarious tracking servers will be dumped to 127.0.0.1 (your own computer) rather than routed out to The Big Snoops In The Ether. Some semblance of privacy, without having to opt out in every browser you use.

The sample file had ad.doubleclick.net commented out because it breaks sears.com and other sites who somehow route actual content through the ad tracking network. I say, if a site is that evilly designed, screw ‘em. I’ve uncommented the line and am blocking all requests for known doubleclick servers.

Also, I switched my DNS away from the convenient and fast Google DNS servers. Sure, they’re fast, but using their DNS servers means they’re able to see everything I do online, no matter what app, no matter what protocol. No, thanks.

Finally, I’ve stopped using Google Quick Search Box. It’d probably be OK to just turn off the “send usage data to Google” and “suggest web pages…” settings, but I’m reverting to just using Spotlight instead. It’s local. It doesn’t report stuff to The Cloud.

5 thoughts on “more on going stealth online”

    1. heh. I even had a license for LaunchBar back in the early days. Was it still Rhapsody back then? PR1? I’ll give it another shot… Not sure I can justify $35 for what I’d be using as an app launcher. Spotlight actually does that pretty well (it used to suck quite spectacularly, but is pretty snappy now)

  1. D’arcy, I can’t thank you enough for linking to that hosts file. For all the time I have to spend mucking with hosts files to get my development environments to work right, it never occurred to me that it’s a foolproof and totally safe way to blacklist sites. Awesome. Since adding those rules to my /etc/hosts, I have been seeing 404s all over the place (in a good way). Kind of a wakeup call. Anyway, here’s to putting power back in your own hands!

    1. Feels kind of like the shared killfile in Idoru. William Gibson, as always, is a little ahead of the curve…

      The best part of the killfile is that it works for all accounts on a computer, in all programs. No config. No tweaking. And it blocks silently. No opting out. No external lists.

      You just drop out. Nice.

  2. I forgot to mention this, but Shaw actually proxies the majority of popular sites through its own proxy. You can’t avoid the proxy as there is a forced redirect. So yeah, this will help, but you ISP still has your entire click stream and it sells that for profit to whomever. Probably Google if they wanted it… The more you know ™.

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