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Badger Sett

A sett or set is a badger's den which usually consists of a network of tunnels and numerous entrances. Setts incorporate larger chambers used for sleeping or rearing young.

This script is designed to raise young Privacy Badgers by teaching them about the trackers on popular sites. Every day, visits thousands of the top sites from the Tranco List with the latest version of Privacy Badger, and saves its findings in results.json.

See the following blog post for more information: Giving Privacy Badger a Jump Start.


  1. Prerequisites: have docker installed. Make sure your user is part of the docker group so that you can build and run docker images without sudo. You can add yourself to the group with

    $ sudo usermod -aG docker $USER
  2. Clone the repository

    $ git clone
  3. Run a scan

    $ ./

    This will run a scan with the latest version of Privacy Badger's master branch and won't commit the results.

    To run the script with a different branch of privacy badger, set the PB_BRANCH variable. e.g.

    $ PB_BRANCH=my-feature-branch ./

    You can also pass arguments to, the python script that does the actual crawl. Any arguments passed to will be forwarded to To control the number of sites that the crawler visits, use the --num-sites argument (the default is 2000). For example:

    $ ./ --num-sites 10

    To exclude any sites with a given top level domain from the scan, pass in the --exclude argument followed by the TLD suffix you want to exclude. For example, if you wanted to exclude all sites with a .gov TLD:

    $ ./ --exclude .gov

    To exclude multiple TLDs from a scan, pass in each TLD separated by a comma, with no space between. For example, if you wanted to exclude all sites with .org and .net TLDs:

    $ ./ --exclude .org,.net

    You can load another extension to run in parallel to Privacy Badger during a scan. Use the --load-extension flag and pass along the filepath for the .crx or .xpi file that you want to load. For example:

    $ ./ --load-extension parallel-extensions/ublock.crx
  4. Monitor the scan

    To have the scan print verbose output about which sites it's visiting, use the --log-stdout argument.

    If you don't use that argument, all output will still be logged to docker-out/log.txt, beginning after the script outputs "Running scan in Docker..."

Automatic crawling

To set up the script to run periodically and automatically update the repository with its results:

  1. Create a new ssh key with ssh-keygen. Give it a name unique to the repository.

    $ ssh-keygen
    Generating public/private rsa key pair.
    Enter file in which to save the key (/home/USER/.ssh/id_rsa): /home/USER/.ssh/id_rsa_badger_sett
  2. Add the new key as a deploy key with R/W access to the repo on Github.

  3. Add a SSH host alias for Github that uses the new key pair. Create or open ~/.ssh/config and add the following:

    Host github-badger-sett
      User git
      IdentityFile /home/USER/.ssh/id_rsa_badger_sett
  4. Configure git to connect to the remote over SSH. Edit .git/config:

    [remote "origin"]
      url = ssh://git@github-badger-sett:/efforg/badger-sett

    This will have git connect to the remote using the new SSH keys by default.

  5. Create a cron job to call once a day. Set the environment variable RUN_BY_CRON=1 to turn off TTY forwarding to docker run (which would break the script in cron), and set GIT_PUSH=1 to have the script automatically commit and push results.json when the scan finishes. Here's an example crontab entry:

    0 0 * * *  RUN_BY_CRON=1 GIT_PUSH=1 /home/USER/badger-sett/
  6. If everything has been set up correctly, the script should push a new version of results.json after each crawl. Soon, whenever you make a new version of Privacy Badger, it will pull the latest version of the crawler's data and ship it with the new version of the extension.


Browser automation for Privacy Badger. Used to pre-train new Badgers before every release.