RequestPolicy: Increasing Web Browsing Privacy Through Control of Cross-Site Requests

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Executive Summary

Many requests that a Web browser makes are not made to the primary site a user is visiting. It is common for websites to instruct browsers to make additional requests to third-party sites for content, advertisements, as well as for purely user-tracking purposes. Current techniques for maintaining user privacy with respect to cross-site requests are limited and inadequate. The paper proposes a client-side whitelist for controlling third-party website requests. The paper implements this as RequestPolicy, an ex-tension for Mozilla browsers. The paper looks at the usability of RequestPolicy as well its impact on the Web browsing experience. The extension maintains a high level of usability while safeguarding user privacy against well-known threats in addition to new threats one draws attention to.

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