In an effort to help Internet users become aware of who is tracking their online activity and how, the team behind the Mozilla Firefox Web browser has introduced a downloadable add-on called Lightbeam that detects websites that are using cookies to monitor users.
It’s standard practice for advertisers to keeps tabs on the sites you frequent using tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are small text files that are downloaded on to your computer that log the websites you browse and, in some case, how you interact with these sites. Advertisers and other companies use these logs to build a profile of your interests, allowing advertisers to sell you products and services you’re more likely to buy.
… Every time you visit a site the tool logs every web address that is connecting to your machine, revealing how visiting a single website can result in your computer to connecting to many different web servers. Each of these servers may be controlled by different companies, and send and collect different information — for example, serving up images and adverts on the site or placing tracking cookies on your computer.
The log is rendered as an infographic that makes it clear which third parties are operating behind the scenes on each website you visit. Users can choose to watch or block individual sites from the tool.