Q: I'm worried about my privacy online. What's the easiest way to block outside data collectors from gathering information about what I view and search for?

DisconnectToolkit-Post.bmpA: As people are becoming more and more careful (read: paranoid) about their privacy settings and search and browsing data, we've seen several different applications spring up that promise to block third party data tracking. There was Facebook Disconnect, a browser extension that blocked Facebook Connect functionality, which is used by more than two million websites (and growing every day), and now there's just Disconnect.

Disconnect, created by Brian Kennish, a former Google employee, has only been released for Chrome and RockMelt so far, but extensions for Firefox and Safari are in the works. Where Facebook Disconnect blocks Facebook Connect, Disconnect blocks third party data tracking from Digg, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and other major web companies that are known for gathering user information to increase ad revenues (among other things).

"Disconnect is easier to use than conventional ad blockers and does not impair web functionality, i.e. you can still access services like Gmail while your searches remain anonymous," TechCrunch's Alexis Tsotsis explained. "Disconnect also conveniently allows you to see blocked requests as well [as] easily unblock services from your browser toolbar."

With services like Disconnect and Facebook Disconnect, those concerned about their search habits being tracked -- and stored -- by third parties can sleep a little more soundly. But now those targeted advertisements you're used to seeing won't be so targeted, your searches less knowledgeable about what it is you want to see.

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