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"Even when you disabled cookies entirely, have Javascript turned off and use a VPN service, this technique will still be able to track you."

It doesn't work if you disable image loading.

For 90%+ of the web browsing I do, I don't need to see images at all, and browsing using emacs-w3m which I have set up to show only text and not load any images suffices. Occasionally there might be some image I want to see on a website and then I'll usually load it and view that one (or handful of images) manually. Very very rarely, I'll visit a site with an image gallery, where loading and viewing images one at a time is too painful, and then I'll just open it in Firefox, which I have set up to load images.

I know not loading images by default is not a solution for most people, but it's worked great for me for many years.

Update: A lot of replies are mentioning CSS. Just for the record: emacs-w3m does not process CSS

You're easily trackable too, how many people are there that use a browser that doesn't loads images, or have a browser that sends a emacs-w3m user agent? I'm guessing not many.

I don't know why people are mentioning CSS as if only special types of resources can be cached with ETags. ETags can be used on HTML documents or TXT files or whatever. It doesn't matter what type of file it is.

Can generate etags for css files. Even normal html content can give an etag.

I'm not going to have time to experiment for the next few weeks, but I bet I could set up a version of this that worked via CSS as well.

Wouldn't affect you with since I believe w3m also doesn't ship with CSS. But if anyone is reading this and thinking, "ah, disabling images in UMatrix will do the trick" -- probably not?

emacs-w3m does not process CSS

More to the point, emacs-w3m does not have a cache at all.

That's the real thing to take away -- that images are not the issue, the cache is the issue, and there are lots of things that can go into a cache beyond just images. If you're not caching anything, you could probably load images by default and you'd still be fine.

ETags don't work just on images, you can use any resource, like stylesheets.

emacs-w3m doesn't process CSS either, nor Javascript for that matter.

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