When government agents and advertisers “listen in” on your Internet activity, their goals are different, but both sides are looking to build your profile. This profile is based on the kind of websites you visit, the topics of the chat rooms you frequent and the conversations you are having on various social media. Of course, there are numerous do-not-track applications that hide what you are doing, but Paranoid Browsing makes it so much fun.
The Chrome app, developed by Ben West, is inspired by fictional software described in Cory Doctorow's book, Little Brother. What makes it so much fun? Paranoid Browsing is designed to let authorities and advertisers believe you are visiting any number of popular “safe” sites, when you may be visiting sites that could get you on a security watchlist. It browses the Internet randomly in the background and sends out this history to those collecting data.
Confuse spies and advertisers with Paranoid Browsing (Image credit: Shutterstock)
A report on Boing Boing says Paranoid Browsing will pause on websites for various amounts of time as though the user were reading each page. The process begins anew after the app has reached a deeper level on any website, with another top-level page chosen at random. This ensures your actual browsing history is hidden under piles of fake visits.
West says, “It even throws up a bunch of ‘chaff’ communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you're doing anything covert.” What this means is that you could be talking about sensitive political topics while Paranoid Browsing shows you as surfing the web like any regular “safe” person. “Meanwhile, one in every five hundred characters you receive is your real message, a needle buried in a huge haystack,” West says in the description of the app.
Paranoid Browsing uses a “standard American” set of web pages to mask your history, but this can be modified “to look at ponies, go carts or whatever else you want profilers to think you're interested in.”
As a warning, West adds that since Paranoid Browsing hits links randomly, there are bound to be a few popups. The code for Paranoid Broswing is available on GitHub.
Publish date: August 19, 2013 4:14 pm| Modified date: January 7, 2014 11:54 am