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How we built Orchid.com without cookies or other tracking tools

How we built Orchid.com without cookies or other tracking tools

2021년 1월 20일

Privacy is Orchid's mission. We want to make it possible for anyone in the world to reclaim the Internet as a safe place of freedom and exploration. So the decision to make our own website, orchid.com, free of cookies and other trackers was an obvious move. But doing so wasn't straightforward -- in today's online world, perpetual harvesting of user data is the default setting. Our team needed to take specific steps in order to deliver a website that doesn't treat our users as data points.

How did we succeed in making orchid.com cookie- and tracker-free, and what does that mean for our users and visitors? First, a little background on cookies, pixels, and the Internet surveillance machine.

What are cookies, and what do they do?

A cookie is a small file that stores a record of each activity we perform online. When you see a pop-up asking you to consent to the use of cookies, what you're really being asked for is permission to let the site track your movements and share them with advertisers. Cookies are usually set by the site being visited, but they can also be set and read by third party services using things like tracking pixels, which initiate a "call" whenever a user clicks.

When we visit websites that use cookies, our activity on that site is stored and follows us as we use the Internet. Over time, the data captured through our cookies can be aggregated to create a detailed dossier of our online activity. Cookies are the reason we see, for instance, embedded ads for something we searched Amazon for weeks ago when we visit a news website.

The most powerful force driving the use of cookies is economic. Many Internet businesses rely on revenue models that depend on the collection of vast amounts of user data. But for Orchid, which offers its users a unique decentralized privacy marketplace built on the digital asset OXT, this economic rationale is irrelevant. Using an innovative system called probabilistic nanopayments, Orchid ensures ample supply at competitive prices for users. And this robust economic model means Orchid never relies on third-party advertising or data monetization.

Below are the steps we took to make orchid.com cookie- and tracker-free.

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The nuts and bolts of a cookie-free website

We don't track users as they browse orchid.com -- but that in itself is not enough. Orchid also does not share data with any third-party tracking systems or use any third-party software on the website. In particular, we do not use services such as Google Analytics, which can monitor clicks and visits. In addition, orchid.com is free of all outside javascript, images, or other content, and never requests assets from third parties. Orchid.com does not embed YouTube videos, for example; content like this gives the third party operator a window into the site's traffic. Once that data is on the open Internet, it's there forever.

In addition to avoiding outside analytics or embedded content, Orchid does not collect -- and therefore does not store -- any data from or about our customers or website visitors. We do have access to anonymous server-side statistics such as number of hits to our various pages along with their country of origin. But we have no way to tie them to anyone's real-world identities or to direct advertising or other content to them. We don't know anything about them, who they are, or where else they've been on the Internet. Instead we derive our information transparently and directly from our open-source community, whose support has been a key source of Orchid's success and momentum.

If we choose, we can build a no-surveillance future

Orchid's decision to completely eschew cookies and trackers flies in the face of years of received wisdom. Vast empires have been built around "free" services that dominate the web, from social media to search. But the simple fact is that these services do exact a price in the form of personal data. At Orchid, that was a bargain we weren't willing to make. We are able to offer a website that's free of cookies and trackers because we've built a system of robust economic incentives that allows the network to function in a healthy and transparent way.

Orchid.com shows that it's possible to build a digital service that doesn't rely on the constant tracking of users. With the right know-how, this example can be adopted by any person or business with a desire to help promote the vision of an Internet based on freedom and safety rather than surveillance.

Download the Orchid app today to start exploring the Internet freely.

Download the app and join Orchid’s privacy network today!

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2020년 10월 13일
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