Automatically Remove Tracking Parameters Using uBlock Origin
- Adam Douglas
uBlock Origin is a free and open source ad content blocker web browser extension that has become a must-have accessory to one’s online privacy when browsing websites. This wonderful tool provides the ability of putting the user back in control of what you are viewing and allowing into your own computer network.
In my experience users of uBlock Origin usually do one of two things, install the extension and forget it or install it and add a few additional filter lists. Though this no doubt does help a lot in protecting ones privacy, but this does not block everything that maybe tracking your every move online. I recently discovered an ability that can remove specific query parameters at the end of a web address to limit or stop this type of tracking.
What is Query Parameter?
The query parameter is apart of the query string of a web address (e.g. ?utm_medium=email) that provides the ability to assign a value to the parameter.
The web address query must start with a “?” followed by the parameter name and value. Multiple query parameters can be provided by delimiting each parameter using an “&”.
Here is an example of a web address with a single query parameter named “utm_medium” and has a value of “email”.
Here is an example of web address with multiple query parameters, “utm_medium” and “utm_source”.
Why Should I Care?
We all should have the right to privacy weather that is online or offline without someone or something tracking our every move. Query parameters when used in a manner that does not respect your right to privacy allows a company to track where you came from, where you have been, what products you have viewed, political views, and many more. On the surface some may think this is not a big deal, however when you combine this type of tracking over time and build upon the previous actions can now start to amount to a lot of data that invades your privacy. When these types of data and more are used in none respectful way, a company can now start to manipulate what content you see which can affect your opinions, decision-making or may even cause refusal for a service. In the end you are the consumer who drives the industry, and you are the only one that has your best interest at heart.
Add Custom Filters to uBlock Origin
The filters are applied before visiting a web address and can be entered using regular expressions or exactly as typed. At this time I personally prefer to enter the filters without the use of regular expressions. Refer to the wiki article, uBlock Origin Static filter syntax for specifics.
Use at your own risk. Poorly crafted removeparam filters can have harmful effects on performance or break a website's functionality.
- Under the uBlock Origin Dashboard click on “My filters”
- Copy the desired filters shown below
*$removeparam=fbclid *$removeparam=gclid *$removeparam=utm_source *$removeparam=utm_medium *$removeparam=utm_term *$removeparam=utm_campaign *$removeparam=utm_content *$removeparam=utm_keyword *$removeparam=utm_cid *$removeparam=utm_reader *$removeparam=utm_referrer *$removeparam=utm_name *$removeparam=utm_social *$removeparam=utm-source *$removeparam=utm-medium *$removeparam=utm-term *$removeparam=utm-campaign *$removeparam=utm-content *$removeparam=utm-keyword *$removeparam=utm-cid *$removeparam=utm-reader *$removeparam=utm-referrer *$removeparam=utm-name *$removeparam=utm-social *$removeparam=igshid *$removeparam=ICID *$removeparam=rb_clickid *$removeparam=track_click *$removeparam=link_id *$removeparam=mc_cid *$removeparam=mc_eid *$removeparam=mcID *$removeparam=ref *$removeparam=qid
- Paste into “My filters” text area
- Click on the “Apply changes” button
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting 100DaysToOffload.com.
- Query string, Wikipedia
- Regular expression, Wikipedia
- Surveillance cameras with a pigeon, photo by staffordgreen0, published Apr 8, 2015, Pixabay
- uBlock Origin logo, SVG by Vulphere, Wikipedia
- uBlock Origin project, GitHub
- uBlock Origin Static filter syntax, GitHub
- uBlock Origin
- Uniform Resource Identifier, Wikipedia
- URL, Wikipedia