I ran across Disconnect when taking the latest Tor Browser Bundle out for a spin. Previously Tor had used IxQuick’s StartPage for its default search, but I had recently become concerned about continuing to use it after reading some statements by its U.S. spokesperson. In addition, although IxQuick had made great strides at solving some annoying issues with page redirection (such as when accessing videos), most of the denizens of Casa Lembo had already gone back to using Google. Tor’s replacement of StartPage with Disconnect resolved those problems for me.
Switching from AdBlock Edge to uBlock Origin for my browsers wasn’t nearly as exciting. The developer of AdBlock Edge had announced in July 2015 that he was discontinuing development of his product in favor of referring users to uBlock Origin. The most important thing you need to know about uBlock Origin before going out to install it is that it is what I’ll call a “reverse-fork”. Like MariaDB, which is a fork of MySQL by the original developer of MySQL, uBlock Origin is a fork of uBlock by the latter’s original developer — hence the name uBlock Origin, for “Original”. I’ll spare you the OSI 8th Layer background and simply caution that the uBlock you want is uBlock Origin by the original developer, Raymond Hill.
The plugins for each product are here:
Note: I recommend installing both Disconnect plugins for Firefox, the first allows use of Disconnect for address bar lookups, the second provides a toolbar applet that reports search privacy related statistics. When installing the address bar plugin check off that you want Disconnect to be the new default (you can always go into the Search settings
Disconnect for Chrome presents a toolbar applet that allows you to select it as the default search for address bar lookups. This overrides whatever is already configured in Chrome’s settings.
The short version of how Disconnect Private Search benefits web browsers can be found in their FAQ:
Disconnect Private Search protects your privacy in four ways:
- Search queries are routed through Disconnect’s servers, which makes the queries look like they’re coming from Disconnect instead of your computer.
- Search engines are prevented from passing keywords to the sites you visit from search results pages.
- All queries are encrypted, which prevents your ISP and eavesdroppers in your network from seeing them.
- Disconnect doesn’t keep track of your personal information, or what you search for.
The case for uBlock Origin is also compelling, as presented in this snippet from its Github wiki:
uBlock is uncompromisingly pro-user interests, and as such its default installation is to block ads, trackers, malwares, etc. As of writing, uBlock’s default installation consists of loading into memory over 46,000 network filters and over 34,000 cosmetic filters.
Such a high amount of filters will cause uBlock to block more than any of the other blockers when used with their default settings — and as a result it’s more likely web pages will load faster with uBlock.