A Browser Without Tracking, Surveillance, or Censorship
Thanks to an assist from Congress, your cable company has the legal right to sell your web-browsing data without your consent. This is how to protect your data from preying eyes. As the battle heats up for health freedom and body autonomy people are more aware than ever before of the sort of information they can reveal every time they set a digital footprint on the web.
If you want to push back against online tracking, you’ve got several options to pick from when choosing a default browser. These are the browsers that put user privacy high on the list of their priorities.
You might know DuckDuckGo as the anti-Google search engine, but it’s also branched out to make its own mobile browsers for Android and iOS. Not only do they keep you better protected online, they give you plenty of information about what they’re blocking.
DuckDuckGo starts by enforcing encrypted HTTPS connections, when websites offer them, and then gives each page you visit a grade based on how aggressively it’s trying to mine your data.
Like DuckDuckGo’s mobile apps, the Ghostery browser tells you exactly which trackers it’s blocking, and how many monitoring tools each website has installed—if you find certain sites that are well-behaved, you can mark them as trusted with a tap.
Or, if you find a site that’s packed full of tracking technology, you can block every single bit of cookie technology on it (for commenting systems, media players and so on), even if the site might break as a result.
Ghostery also develops an extension that works with just about every desktop browser out there—again, you can view the trackers on each site you visit, then take appropriate action on them or let Ghostery decide and its AI smarts decide what needs blocking.
Ghostery’s tools are a little more in-depth and advanced than the ones offered by DuckDuckGo, so you might consider it if you want to take extra
control over which trackers are blocked on which sites.
Tor Browser stands for browsing “without tracking, surveillance, or censorship” and is worth a look if you want the ultimate in anonymized, tracker-free browsing—unless you’re on iOS, where it isn’t yet available.
The browser app for Android, Windows and macOS is actually part of a bigger project to keep internet browsing anonymous. The Tor Project routes your web navigation through a complex, encrypted network of relays managed by its community, making it much harder for anyone else to work out where you’re going on the web.
As well as this additional layer of anonymity, Tor Browser is super-strict on the sort of background scripts and tracking technologies sites are allowed to run. It also blocks fingerprinting, a method where advertisers attempt to recognize the unique characteristics of your device across multiple sites, even if they can’t tell exactly who you are.
At the end of each browsing session, everything gets wiped, including cookies left behind by sites and the browsing history inside the Tor Browser app itself. In other words, private browsing mode is the default.
Because of the extra encryption and anonymity measures, Tor Browser can run slightly slower than other browsers, but in terms of staying invisible on the web, it’s the best there is. It can even help you get online in countries where the internet is blocked or censored.
Brave is a project from Brendan Eich, once of Firefox developer Mozilla, and its mission includes both keeping you from being tracked on the web, and finding a better way to serve you advertisements. It’s a dichotomy that doesn’t fully fit together just yet.
There’s no doubt about the effectiveness of its tracker blocking technologies though. The browser apps block ads by default and put tight restrictions on the information sites can gather on you through cookies and tracking scripts.
You can block trackers, scripts, and fingerprinting technologies—where sites attempt to identify your particular device—individually, but unlike DuckDuckGo and Ghostery you don’t get a detailed breakdown of what’s been stopped.
Brave also tries to block phishing attempts over the web, and will force HTTPS encryption where it’s available. It’s a comprehensive package that strikes a well-judged balance between simplicity and power.
Time will tell whether Brave’s attempts to create a new privacy-respecting ad platform are successful, but it’s testing the idea of paying users to watch ads and splitting the revenue with content creators. You can also give micropayments to sites you like directly, though all of this is completely opt-in.