After 2,686 days at Google, software engineer Brian Kennish has left the search giant to focus on “Disconnect,” an open source browser extension designed to stop third parties and search engines from tracking Web pages you visit and searches you do.
Kennish is the engineer behind the “Facebook Disconnect” extension that blocks traffic from third-party sites to Facebook servers, but still lets users access Facebook itself. That extension has amassed 70,000 downloads since its release in late October.
Kennish’s Disconnect Extension (Currently for Chrome & RockMelt) lets users take control of the data they share with third parties and enables them to:
• Disable tracking by third parties like Digg, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo, without requiring any setup or significantly degrading the usability of the web.
• Truly depersonalize searches on search engines like Google and Yahoo (by blocking identifying cookies not just changing the appearance of results pages), while staying logged into other services — e.g., so you can search anonymously on Google and access iGoogle at once.
• See how many resource and cookie requests are blocked, in real time.
• Easily unblock services, by clicking the toolbar button then services (and reloading current pages) — e.g., so you can play games on Facebook.
Disconnect is open source software.
There has been a recent rise in extensions and plug-ins from several developers and firms that aim to help users maintain control over what they share online and how they are tracked. Additionally, the FTC has been discussing the possibility of a “do not track” feature to further help protect users privacy online.