How to opt out of websites collecting and selling your data

Starting July 1, a new Global Privacy Control tool makes it easier for Coloradans to opt-out of data collection. Here's a step-by-step guide to install the data privacy plug-in on your browser.

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Starting on July 1st, 2024, data privacy and protecting your personal data in Colorado got easier. Instead of having to contact every website individually to opt out of your data being sold or used for targeted advertising, you can do it automatically by downloading what’s called global opt-out mechanism.

What is a universal opt-out mechanism and how do I get it?

A universal opt-out mechanism is a piece of data privacy technology that helps you automatically opt-out of data collection online. Once you’ve downloaded the tool, the mechanism will broadcast to every site you visit that you don’t want your data collected or sold. That way you don’t have to individually contact every website you visit to opt out.

You will, however, need to do a bit of work to get the tool working.

How to use the Global Privacy Control

The Global Privacy Control is a type of universal opt-out mechanism. Once you download the plug-in on your browser, the Global Privacy Control sends a signal to every website you visit that you don’t want your data to be collected and sold. This way, instead of manually opting out of data collection for every website, the universal opt-out mechanism will automatically do it for you, all the time.

The Colorado Privacy Act required the Colorado Attorney General to select a universal opt-out tool websites must heed. On January 1st, 2024, the Colorado AG’s office announced it had selected the Global Privacy Control as its first approved universal opt-out tool.

 

Global Privacy Control in Google Chrome

To automatically opt-out of data collection on websites while using your Chrome browser, you need to download a special browser extension. You have a couple of options.

  • Our favorite is Privacy Badger made by our friends at Electronic Frontier FoundationYou can download Privacy Badger from the Chrome Web Store here. Once you download it, Privacy Badger will do the rest, and you shouldn’t have to take any more steps. We like this one because it has other privacy tools that will further protect your data built in, and it won’t disrupt your browsing experience.
  • Another good option is DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. You can download DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials from the Chrome Web Store hereIn addition to using the GPC, this extension will change your default browser to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo collects a lot less data about you than Chrome, but some people may not want to make the switch.

Global Privacy Control in Apple Safari

To automatically opt-out of data collection on websites in Safari, you need to download a special browser extension. Apple currently doesn’t allow our favorite tool – Privacy Badger – in Safari, but there is another option you can use.

  • DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. You can download it from the Apple App Store hereIn addition to using the GPC, this extension will change your default browser to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo collects a lot less data about you than Safari, but some people may not want to make the switch.

Global Privacy Control in Microsoft Edge

To automatically opt-out of data collection on websites in Edge you’ll need to download a special browser extension. You have a couple of options:

  • Our favorite is Privacy Badger made by our friends at Electronic Frontier FoundationYou can download Privacy Badger from the Microsoft store here. Once you download it, Privacy Badger should do the rest, and you shouldn’t have to take any more steps. We like this one because it has other privacy tools that will further protect your data built in.
  • Another good option is DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. You can download DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials from the Microsoft store hereDuckDuckGo collects a lot less data about you than Edge, but some people may not want to make the switch.

Global Privacy Control in Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is the only major browser that has a GPC signal built into it automatically, so you don’t have to download any special tools. But you do have to go turn it on.

How to enable GPC on Firefox
  1. Make sure you have a recent version of Firefox. Firefox started carrying the GPC in November 2023. If you haven’t updated your browser since then, do that first.
  2. In FireFox, click the menu button that’s 3 horizontal lines stacked on top of each other
  3. Go to Privacy & Security
  4. Scroll down to “Website Privacy Preferences”
  5. Click “Tell websites not to sell or share my data”
  6. Then close out of your Settings page. The change is saved automatically
Topics
Authors

Danny Katz

Executive Director, CoPIRG Foundation

Danny has been the director of CoPIRG for over a decade. Danny co-authored a groundbreaking report on the state’s transit, walking and biking needs and is a co-author of the annual “State of Recycling” report. He also helped write a 2016 Denver initiative to create a public matching campaign finance program and led the early effort to eliminate predatory payday loans in Colorado. Danny serves on the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Efficiency and Accountability Committee, CDOT's Transit and Rail Advisory Committee, RTD's Reimagine Advisory Committee, the Denver Moves Everyone Think Tank, and the I-70 Collaborative Effort. Danny lobbies federal, state and local elected officials on transportation electrification, multimodal transportation, zero waste, consumer protection and public health issues. He appears frequently in local media outlets and is active in a number of coalitions. He resides in Denver with his family, where he enjoys biking and skiing, the neighborhood food scene and raising chickens.

R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, PIRG

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, predatory auto lending and consumer debt. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder.