Charlie Harvey

5 Best Firefox/Iceweasel Privacy Plugins

Screenshot: various firefox anonymity and privacy plugins in use

Activists and other people are frequently targetted for surveillance by power in its various forms - governments, police, media and corporate power. Increasingly this surveillance takes place on line. And so it makes sense to set up your firefox browser to be as resistent as possible to such surveillance. Here's a few plugins that can help.

Before we look at them its very important to say a couple of things. Firstly, privacy, like security, is always a relative term. You can be more or less private in your online communications, but at some point a sufficiently determined and well-resourced attacker will be able to compromise your communications. Our aim here is to make things too expensive and difficult for our hypothetical (or real) attacker to consider it worthwhile. Secondly, you should have a read of Tech Tools for Activists if you are considering doing online activism. This post is by no means complete or comprehensive. Right, lets consider the caveat emptor over!

  1. TorButton

    Are you an activist in a country without free speech, or posting something on Indymedia which you don't want to be traceable to you? TorButton lets you proxy your web browser through the encrypted Tor network. That's mostly useful because it makes your browsing effectively anonymous. Even to your internet service provider. There exist a few possible theoretical attacks (if one controls a lot of exit nodes, for example), and you'll notice that your web browsing is much slower, but you'll be massively enhancing your online privacy by using Tor. The plugin also helps you to configure Firefox for privacy, for example giving you the option of disabling your cache. 4 in screenshot

  2. AdBlock Plus

    Adverts are irritating. They use your bandwidth (big issue in much of Africa). They allow corporations unprecedented access to your private life. AdBlock Plus filters ads out before Firefox even downloads them. Makes web browsing quicker and less irritating.0 in screenshot Here's a video.

  3. GoogleSharing

    GoogleSharing helps keep your searches, website visits and other online movements secret from Google, by proxying everything through various other machines. 3 in screenshot.

  4. Ghostery

    The description on the Ghostery website explains the plugin like this, "Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity." Ghostery also gives you the ability to block all the tracking software that corporate power is using to monitor your online behaviour. This saves bandwidth, preserves your anonymity and makes it harder for companies to sell you stuff. Can't say fairer than that! 1 and 2 in screenshot.

  5. HTTPS Everywhere

    Have you seen Firesheep yet? Anyone sitting in that caff where you hook in to the free wifi can grab your facebook or twitter login and do what they like with it. HTTPS Everywhere tries to upgrade your connection so that its encrypted, which mitigates many of these types of attacks against network traffic


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