Evernote knows my bank password…

Lately, I’ve been installing a lot of browser extensions: I’m doing a project that involves analysing a bunch of web clipping / sharing apps, so I’ve been dutifully installing the browser extensions that they provide. What’s been striking me, though, is how little we know about the browser extensions we install. I use Google Chrome for most of my browsing—when I went to install the Evernote Web Clipper, this is the message that popped up:

Evernote Web Clipper install message

This struck me as a somewhat far-reaching request: my browsing history and my data for all websites is a lot of data for a tool that is basically supposed to help me copy-paste. “What are they going to do with this information?”, I asked myself, “Why do they need it? Why isn’t there a ‘we have access when you click on the elephant’ clause or something?”.

Initially, I couldn’t figure out how to find out more: I clicked on the “View details” link, and it brought me here… I did a more thorough search once I decided to write this post, and eventually found a link to this:

Google Chrome extension permission explanation

So… that’s something…

I’m not writing this because I think that the Evernote Web Clipper is dodgy… I’m pretty sure it isn’t. I don’t see, however, why an app that I use for saving adorable pictures of owls, newspaper articles that make me happy / angry, and ikea hacks should have access to my banking credentials. I’m sure that there’s a good reason why they request this access… I just don’t know what it is. What I would like to see is an easy way to have these extensions working only when you want them to be working. Yes, I could go into my preferences and enable and disable the extension as I need it, but that is a bit of an onerous solution to what I presume could be reasonably easily implemented.

More than that, though, I wish that people who publish extensions explained why they’re requesting these permissions, what they actually do with the data they have access to, how they store it, etc. I may not mind sharing my data with you… but I do what to know why, and what you’re going to do with it.

Watching the Internets watch you

At the iSchool, we talk a lot about personal privacy and online tracking and the like. Classmates de have talked cheap nfl jerseys Happy bout exclusively using private browsing, obsessively clearing their history and cookies, or using ‘uncommon’ browsers that disallow all the tracking that goes on as one typically surfs the internets. I’ve not generally been so concerned: I’m alright with companies public like Google or Facebook collecting my data, labeling me as a 20-something techno-savvy university graduate who wholesale nfl jerseys likes tea and knitting and targeting my ads. I am interested in how people react to being tracked, however, so when Paul Reinheimer of directed me cheap mlb jerseys to Collusion, wholesale nba jerseys a super neat plugin for Firefox that helps you visualise who is tracking you, and how they share their data, I Women was instantly sucked in.

Playing around with wholesale nfl jerseys Collusion showed me just how ubiquitous doubleclick.net is, and made me recognize that gossip websites like perez hilton or ‘women’s’ websites like xojane.com are incredibly cheap nfl jerseys connected to ad networks. In contrast, Google is way less connected, sharing wholesale mlb jerseys less (but sucking an in more). In light of the hoopla surrounding the alleged dodgyness of Google’s ‘new’ privacy policy, in Collusion may prompt more productive discussions. From a more academic point of view, it would be interesting to see how seeing who is watching while you browse affects people’s behavior wholesale jerseys online. For ZWARTE anyone who’s interested in internet privacy, it’s a fun (and distracting) supplement to with normal cheap nba jerseys browsing.

It’s also cheap nfl jerseys fun to see how many weird connections you can make. To wit: Paul’s tweet.