do new profiles help limit web tracking?

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tommy_2
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do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by tommy_2 » 2020-09-07, 18:59

to limit potential tracking and data gathering my main browser is locked down pretty tight, naturally this means many sites have one problem or another in my main pale moon but that's ok.

I have a second linux user account I sudo into whose only reason to exist is to run a script that starts a new browser instance with all defaults then when it exits the ~/.moonchild* and browser cache dirs are deleted. so every time this second pale moon is run it's like a fresh install. this is what I use if I just have to see a twitter vid, use a site that forces captcha/google cookie, etc.

am I wasting my time with that second instance? in other words a fresh profile does almost nothing with respect to rendering useless the mountain of g*/doubleclick/bing/ms/yahoo/social media cookies that show up an instant after visiting a site in that browser, as well as who knows how many js scripts get run from it?

or the fact that apparently fingerprinting includes info about the machine both of these run on the second instance essentially gives away the fact my main pale moon is running on the same machine/vpn IP?

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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by Walter Dnes » 2020-09-08, 01:06

No need to sudo to a new user account. You can run multiple profiles, which will have the same effect. You can't fight fingerprinting based on available fonts and screen resolution. But you can fight fingerprinting based on 3rd-party-cookies and extensions and user agent strings.

Each profile can be TOTALLY different. All settings and about:config and extensions are specific to that one profile. If you really like an extension, you'll have to download+install in each profile. If you have multiple profiles, 3rd-party-cookies placed by a website in one profile can't be read/written by a website you're visiting from a different profile. Some websites demand 3rd-party-cookies or offline storage. Give those sites their own profiles. It's also nice to have the browser bring up appropriate pages. E.g. for the Pale Moon forum...

Tools ==> Preferences ==> General ==> HomePage

https://www.palemoon.org | viewforum.php?f=1 | viewforum.php?f=37 | viewforum.php?f=62

For Slashdot I have
http://slashdot.org/ | https://slashdot.org/firehose.pl

You can have a whole bunch of tabs auto-open. In the list, the URLs must be separated by {SPACE}{PIPE}{SPACE}

To open a specific profile, your program launcher must use the "-new-instance" parameter, and specify the profile name with the "-p" parameter; note the single hyphens. Some examples are...

palemoon -new-instance -p palemoon
palemoon -new-instance -p slashdot
palemoon -new-instance -p test
palemoon -new-instance -p youtube

THE PROFILES MUST ALREADY EXIST for these example to work. To create a new profile, you need to open a terminal window and execute palemoon -new-instance -p which brings up the profile manager. From here, you can create/rename/delete profiles.
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moonbat
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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by moonbat » 2020-09-08, 03:50

Have you people never heard of an adblocker or filter lists instead of this Rube Goldberg-esque contrivance that will have you wasting system resources with multiple instances? :roll:

Ruthlessly blacklist 3rd party analytics/tracker domains and use a cookie blocking extension that blocks all cookies by default, only allowing session cookies for sites that break or require a login.
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athenian200
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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by athenian200 » 2020-09-08, 12:27

Well, it seems to me like what you're doing is pretty extreme, given that there's already a feature in the browser called private browsing mode that does essentially the same thing as what you're trying to accomplish without the need for creating multiple profiles. You just use Ctrl+Shift+P to open a private window. The suggestion of Walter Dnes might technically work as well, but it's really not a whole lot more practical/useful than what you are doing now in my opinion, and I can't in good faith recommend that you follow it.

Additionally, switching profiles like this or using private browsing mode is not preventing fingerprinting/tracking at all, only preventing the method of doing so via cookies. Websites track you by things like your user agent string, screen resolution, installed fonts, and IP primarily. No amount of deleting private data prevents a website using IP tracking from determining who you are, you would have to find a way to change your IP and your user agent for each visit. Ideally what you want to do is have some method of changing your IP (like tethering to your mobile device), a bunch of VMs, each with a different default browser, and possibly a different OS running in each one.

So for instance:

VM 1: Windows 7, Pale Moon, real IP.

VM 2: Windows 8.1, Basilisk, mobile IP via tethering.

VM 3: CentOS, Borealis Navigator, IP of friend/relative/company whose computer is running a VPN server you installed (hopefully with their permission!).

Notice that in this case, you would have a unique OS, a unique IP, and a unique user agent for each setup. The IP is the most important part, but the more of these factors you can change, the better.

Anyway, what I can tell you is that using a separate profile or a separate user account under Linux is basically useless for limiting web tracking beyond what private browsing is able to achieve. Even using a separate computer wouldn't help very much with that if you still have the same IP. The other thing to note is that things like paid VPN services are becoming less effective over time because a lot of websites are starting to maintain blocklists of IPs associated with known VPN/Proxy services due to abuse, so that's no longer a reliable way to change your IP in a useful manner in those instances.

However, I think the idea of avoiding tracking is a lost cause if you want to be able to use common online services, given the kind of measures you'd have to employ to be able to actually do so consistently.
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moonbat
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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by moonbat » 2020-09-09, 04:42

@athenian200 - the best way to prevent tracking is to block tracking scripts, cookies and domains with an adblocker instead of jumping through hoops like these. Of course it requires learning how adblocking and filtering works too (for which there are resources, uBlock Origin has a full wiki).
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athenian200
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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by athenian200 » 2020-09-09, 05:19

moonbat wrote:
2020-09-09, 04:42
@athenian200 - the best way to prevent tracking is to block tracking scripts, cookies and domains with an adblocker instead of jumping through hoops like these. Of course it requires learning how adblocking and filtering works too (for which there are resources, uBlock Origin has a full wiki).
Ah, wait, was the scope of the question limited to tracking for advertising purposes? Because what you're talking about wouldn't necessarily stop individual websites from keeping track of a user, but it would prevent them from getting targeted advertisements via third-party domains, etc.
Off-topic:
I personally don't like adblocking and filtering because this kind of thing often breaks websites and also denies revenue to content creators. That's just my personal opinion, and I respect yours too, however.
"The rising sun will eventually set
A newborn's life will fade.
From sun to moon, moon to sun...
Give peaceful rest to the living dead."

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moonbat
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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by moonbat » 2020-09-09, 05:27

Most of them outsource the tracking and analytics to 3rd parties, so you're pretty much covered.
"One hosts to look them up, one DNS to find them and in the darkness BIND them."

Linux Mint 20 Xfce x64 on HP i5 laptop with 12 GB RAM, always latest versions of PM & Basilisk unless specified.

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tommy_2
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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by tommy_2 » 2020-09-10, 01:41

Ah, wait, was the scope of the question limited to tracking for advertising purposes?
no, you got it right, I never said anything about advertising.

adblockers, filters and blocking most cookies are EXACTLY why many non-critical sites I might visit using my main browser partly or mostly don't work. and that's how I want it, keep all the pollution out of my main setup from the couple dozen or so random sites each day I might want to check. if they can't get through as-is that's what the temp instance is for.

although if I misunderstood and moonbat knows how to pass captchas without allowing google cookies I'd love to hear it. otherwise as I say, the temp is for running with all defaults so the sites work and partly why I have the script delete everything at exit, none is needed for next time. there's no investment in this temp setup not counting the 15 seconds it took to write the script.

beyond that, I figured the deleting probably wasn't helping wrt keeping the temp instance disassociated from my main browser from a spying/tracking standpoint so asked. yours and Walter Dnes's replies confirmed it's pointless. thanks.

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Re: do new profiles help limit web tracking?

Post by moonbat » 2020-09-10, 04:50

tommy_2 wrote:
2020-09-10, 01:41
although if I misunderstood and moonbat knows how to pass captchas without allowing google cookies I'd love to hear it.
Use eMatrix which blocks everything by default, and for recaptcha temporarily allow gstatic.com, google.com to set scripts, frames and XHR requests. Has nothing to do with cookies. I block all cookies by default except for sites that require a login, and the odd other site that breaks is allowed to set cookies temporarily while the tab is open if it's a one off visit, for frequently visited sites cookies are allowed to stay for the duration of the browsing session, all courtesy Cookie Masters.
"One hosts to look them up, one DNS to find them and in the darkness BIND them."

Linux Mint 20 Xfce x64 on HP i5 laptop with 12 GB RAM, always latest versions of PM & Basilisk unless specified.

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