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Device fingerprinting is one of the biggest privacy problems as explained because people think cleaning cookies, using proxy servers or blocking domains can protect them (when blacklisted trackers simply ask a whitelisted tracker to iframe their code from a new domain).

Tor might fix the problem but it isn't practical because 99% of people don't use Tor and Tor users don't use it for 99% of their online activity, maybe because of security concerns about exist node for HTTP traffic, heavy attacks against Tor network from nosy governments, or just speed problem. We need a solution for normal web browsers.

Disabling javascript may prevent some data leakage but we can't do that because most websites won't work properly without javascript. Even without javascript we have unique fingerprints because 99% of users don't disable it (even Noscript whitelisted google.com and several other tracker by default, and Noscript only has 2 million user compared to billions of internet users).

For example: Alice searches "abc" with her real fingerprint. later she trying search "xyz" but anonymously (VM+proxy+remove cookies+block javascript/flash/java). Since 99% of people have javascript with a unique fingerprint, by disabling it and using a blank fingerprint Alice tells the search engine provider they can analysis just 1% of their users. if "xyz" has unique patterns, (e.g grammar mistakes, rare queries etc) the search provider can relate it to Alice when she took all steps to protect her identity but failed because other people didn't. i think the only way is putting ourselves into 99% category.

My questions:

  • is there any software to add/remove/change parameters naturally with one click? (if ThreatMetrix's claim is true about CPU clock time differentials to create perfect fingerprints and detect any proxy or how far our PC is located from server then i guess no software can help.)

  • When Firefox is open source is there any patch to make one-time NP-complete natural fingerprint in private browsing mode and became haystack ? or we have to wait several more years for no reason?

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1 Answer 1

A couple of things to note:

1) The internet and HTTP makes it very easy to track to track users fingerprinting and persistent client data are just 2 approaches (CPU timing is not a very effective one IME).

2) never underestimate the stupidity of the general public. While the well publicized face of device fingerprinting is in relation to abuse of privacy it protects millions (billions?) of people against online fraud

3) making your machine appear 'black' or returning false data is more likely to make it stand out than disappear

Yes there are tools freely available which attempt to undermine the effectiveness of fingerprinting. Do they work? Yes they change the fingerprint - but they don't help to protect your privacy.

The issue of privacy primarily concerns the abuse of that information - however in many places collection of such data can constitute an offence. The most effective thing you can do to protect your privacy and protect yourself from abuses of privacy is to lobby your representation for appropriate and effective laws.

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1) CPU timing is effective to detect proxy/real distance/fingerprint. 2)OBSCURITY don't prevent fraud as criminals can analysis webpage and spoof it. 3) yes blank fingerprints make us unique anyway as i mentioned. 4) lobby for laws never happen as congress tell NSA don't do that and they break laws in clear day. We can't just say don't use internet or privacy is not reality. we can do something about it today. when Tor patched this problem why we don't do that for Firefox private browsing mode ? its open source and you can do it now :( –  man Mar 19 '13 at 8:51

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