Startpage, a privacy search engine, on Tuesday released the Startpage Privacy Protection browser extension for free download on Chrome and Firefox. The extension enables people to browse the Internet more securely, automatically blocking first- and third-party trackers, while giving them more control of their browsing and searching experience.
Robert E.G. Beens, founder of Startpage, believes that tech companies, search engines, social platforms, data brokers and advertisers have been profiting off this data collection at the expense of consumers for too long.
Bits of personal data are saved and sold every second, Beens estimates, from sensitive search queries like “how to get out of debt” to social posts featuring a child’s face and ecommerce sites that follow consumer shopping habits.
Using the new extension to analyze the top 15 websites in the U.S., Startpage found that leading news outlets CNN and Fox News had more than 40 trackers or cookies on their home pages.
The Startpage Privacy Protection browser extension blocks these trackers and shields users from invasive targeted advertising with features that provide anyone with more control of their online privacy.
The extension sends Global Privacy Control (Do-Not-Track) signals to visited sites with the user's privacy preferences. It prohibits third-party sites from using special scripts to collect information about the user.
The extension also stops trackers from being placed on search activities by advertisers and third parties, and replaces social media, video, and music site tracking defaults with “click-to-activate” options.
Startpage also says the extension evaluates and displays a privacy rating of 1 to 5 based on each site’s privacy practices and sets the user’s default search engine to Startpage to ensure that searches are private and not saved, sold, or used for profiling, but maintain the best results.