Frequently Asked Questions

What does PrivacyWall do?

PrivacyWall blocks unwanted data collection by Windows 10, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge. All operating systems and browsers today collect telemetry data on consumers without the explicit consent of users. PrivacyWall is a firewall that makes it easy for consumers to block this unwanted data collection. After installing PrivacyWall, we will continuously block requests to known websites, IP address, and urls, that are engaging in unwanted data collection.

Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge

Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge collect and report significant amounts of your personal data to Microsoft, including the names of apps you have installed, app usage data, system data about the computer you use (memory, processor, BIOS), accessories you have installed, search queries, web browsing history, and driver data. The names of files and documents on your computer are also collected and logged by Microsoft. Microsoft operates the second largest search advertising business in the world. Microsoft stores and sells this data to advertisers to target advertising to consumers. Your privacy may be compromised if you do not wish to have the names of apps, files, and documents logged by Microsoft, and Windows 10 does not give consumers the option to turn off data collection by Microsoft. PrivacyWall blocks these types of requests from reaching Microsoft servers.

Google Chrome

Everytime you use a web browser like Google Chrome to visit a website, Google logs your browsing history and the website you visited in its database so that they can eventually sell your data to potential advertisers who buy ads from Google. If you use Chrome to sync your Google account, Google is able to collect an enormous amount of personal information. Not all consumers wish to have their browsing history recorded by Google. For instance, Google Chrome is known to report all your urls to safebrowsing.google.com, which may be recorded and logged by Google. Google is the world's largest online advertising company. Your privacy may be compromised if you are surfing sensitive websites that you do not wish to have recorded in Google's database indefinitely. PrivacyWall blocks these types of requests from reaching Google servers.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox collects telemetry data on your internet usage, browsing history, and computer hardware configuration. Firefox pings Mozilla whenever you first open the browser and log on to the internet. It also shares the URLs you have visited with Google. Firefox also uploads a list of all the extensions you have installed to Mozilla servers. Firefox pings Mozilla servers dozens of times per day with this information to know when you are online or offline. Firefox hides the option to turn off data collection by Mozilla, and users have reported that Firefox has silently re-enabled data collection without their consent after an update even after users have explicitly chosen to disable telemetry. PrivacyWall blocks these types of requests from reaching Firefox. Your privacy may be compromised if you do not wish Mozilla to know when you surf the internet, the types of extensions you have installed on your browser, or the websites you visit, if you are surfing sensitive websites that you do not wish to have recorded in Mozilla's database indefinitely. Firefox has an advertising partnership with Google that some estimate to be worth $500 million per year. PrivacyWall blocks these types of requests from reaching Mozilla servers.

Who developed PrivacyWall?

PrivacyWall was developed by a team of successful Stanford University engineers who were looking for a way to block Windows 10 telemetry for their own personal use. After seeing the spread of intrusive unwanted data collection into more and more software applications, we decided to make it available to the public for non-commercial use.

How do I know PrivacyWall is safe to use?

PrivacyWall uses SSL cryptography to secure connections to its website. PrivacyWall uses both McAfee and Symantec to perform daily malware scanning and vulnerability assessments of the PrivacyWall website.

What is PrivacyWall better than an adblocker?

There are many adblocker extensions that can be installed in your browser today. Unfortunately, none of these web extensions can stop your web browser or operating system from sending your personal data to a data collection server used by the web browser company or operating system manufacturer, ie Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, because these extensions run on top of the web browser. These extensions cannot block data connection requests that are hard-coded into the web browser or operating system. In addition, some adblockers have been known to accept payments from advertising companies like Google and Microsoft in order to be "whitelisted" (that means that the adblocker, which claims to block ads, will allow Google or Microsoft ads to be shown in exchange for part of the profits).

PrivacyWall runs directly on top of the Windows operating system, instead of on top of the web browser. As a result, PrivacyWall is able to block web browsers and operating systems from compromising your privacy and collecting your data for commercial purposes.

What platforms are supported?

PrivacyWall is currently compatible with Windows 10.

Why is PrivacyWall not initialized after installation in IE and Edge?

We have seen very rare instances of an unknown Windows 10 bug affecting IE/Edge where PrivacyWall does not initialize immediately after installation and restart. In the rare case where this occurs, we recommend opening and closing IE/Edge a single time after PrivacyWall starts up. This is only required once to initialize PrivacyWall.

Which URLs are blocked?

We maintain a continuously updated block list that can be accessed here. Users of PrivacyWall have 100% transparency into what URLs are being blocked.

Can I suggest a URL for you to block?

You can suggest a URL by using the contact form on our homepage or by emailing us at contact (at) privacywall.org.