At the end of July, Wladimir Palant of Adblock Plus wrote a blog post which criticised Michael Gundlach‘s AdBlock for several reasons, but most worryingly:
Not just that, the AdBlock project was also so careless when implementing this “feature” that every other website can track AdBlock users as well. And they explicitly allowed Disconnect.me to be notified whenever some AdBlock user starts up his browser.
… but also criticised AdBlock for being a GPL-3 open-source project with no public repository, and only per-release zip archives being made available. This means that it is non-trivial to determine what changes have been made between versions, and generally increases suspicions that someone somewhere is hiding something…
To remedy this, and as is my right according to the GPL-3 license under which AdBlock releases are made available, I have extracted each AdBlock release which is still available, and uploaded it to github at the following location:
… and I’ve a mind to fork this code-base and add DNT support if the user has enabled this option in their browser.
For balance, Michael’s response is at http://blog.getadblock.com/2014/07/adblock-and-privacy.html where he makes a point-by-point rebuttal.
I must admit that I’m still with Wladimir on this one – if AdBlock were doing nothing that they feel their users would object to, why not ask their users permission or, failing that, at least post – either within the extension or on their site – details of what tracking and what partnerships are active within a given release? Michael’s assertion that “User IDs are randomly generated and aren’t retained across different machines, browsers, or reinstallations” entirely misses the point that, for a given installation in a given browser, he had created a constant global tracking ID that can be used to uniquely identify the user, regardless of the preferences the user has expressed regarding whether they’re happy to be tracked or not.