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You are here: Home Bulletins 2023 fall JShelter helps protect your online privacy: Here's how to contribute

JShelter helps protect your online privacy: Here's how to contribute

by Michael McMahon Contributions Published on Dec 06, 2023 12:51 PM
Did you ever ask yourself why online privacy is important and what can be done about it? Learn how the JShelter web extension can be part of your privacy protection tool kit, as well as ways to contribute, in this article.

Protecting your online privacy has never been more important, as nowadays everything we do online leaves a digital footprint. As our world is ever-changing, one never knows what activity permitted today will be banned in the future. It is a best practice, in my opinion, to do as much of your online research and other browsing anonymously to prevent problems in the future. If you do not actively protect your privacy, your behavior will be tracked, for example, through increasingly invasive advertising practices. Once collected, your data can be sold to law enforcement to be used against you as evidence, to marketers to sell you things you do not want, and to malicious actors to trick you based on your desires. Every step that you take to enhance your privacy online can go a long way to making your life more secure.

Photo of Giorgio and Ricardo, two JShelter developers. Join our community! Switch to JShelter to better guard your privacy online, and, if you are able, make a contribution.

One step you can take is using JShelter together with thousands of people who do so already. What is JShelter? JShelter is a web browser extension used to thwart websites that try to identify users through their web activity, across websites whether or not they log in. Users who may assume their activity is anonymous on one site can be identified through a different site where they log in, for example, by comparing similarities in their browser environment. JShelter prevents web pages from turning the browser into a proxy to the local network. JShelter also blocks Web Workers, which is code running in the background of a browser that can be abused to install long-lived man-in-the-middle proxies and other attacks.

You might want to share location with certain sites during navigation. However, for other sites, you may want to reveal your location with less precision (like ordering a meal or looking for nearby places of interest). JShelter protects the user in other ways through features like JavaScript Shield, Network Boundary Shield, and Fingerprint Detector (known as "FPD"). The extension is free software and available on all major web browsers. You can find installation instructions at https://jshelter.org for your web browser. Discover how JShelter can enhance your privacy.

JShelter has gone through several changes since we last promoted it six months ago. Since that time, we have made improvements on usability, performance, and internationalization. We also recently added a way to identify scripts that call APIs that JShelter protects (for example, to create custom block lists), fixed several bugs, and improved the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Everyone stands to benefit from JShelter's privacy-protecting features, and journalists and activists would likely find the most benefit. As the number of people using privacy tools increases, the collective privacy from using those tools tends to increase as well.

You can make a difference and help make JShelter better by identifying, reporting, and fixing bugs. Even if it seems minor, every issue and workaround that you suggest might help someone else. Your reports can help influence the roadmap of development for the extension. Grow your technical skills by looking for existing issues, making your first contribution, and building your résumé. See our contribution page for ways to contribute: https://u.fsf.org/40z

Are you fluent in multiple languages? Help translate JShelter into your native language to help your region. Translating JShelter into more languages allows us to help protect the privacy of a wider audience from around the globe. With each additional translation, we can break down barriers so that people from more countries are able to take back their privacy. This is a crucial effort because the risks related to losing privacy online vary greatly by country, and sometimes have dire consequences. If you can read and write in multiple languages and would like to contribute to this project, please visit the following web page with information on how to get started: https://jshelter.org/i18n/

Join our passionate group by making contributions. You can make a difference building something great. JShelter needs your help. We are working to create a better world. Try it, and contribute, today!

Image by Ricardo Lafuente. Copyright © 2023 Ricardo Lafuente. This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Copyright © 2023 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This article is individually licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

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