Privacy is now a priority among browser-makers, but they may not go as far as you want in fighting pervasive ad industry trackers on the web. Here’s a look at how you can crank up your privacy settings to outsmart that online tracking.
Problems like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal have elevated privacy protection on Silicon Valley’s priority list by showing how companies compile reams of data as you traverse the internet. Their goal? To build a richly detailed user profile so that you can become the target of more accurate, clickable and thus profitable advertisements.
Apple and Google are in a war for the web, with Google pushing aggressively for an interactive web to rival native apps and Apple moving more slowly — in part out of concern those new features will worsen security and be annoying for users. Privacy adds another dimension to the competition and to your browser decision.
Apple has made privacy a top priority in all its products, including Safari. For startup Brave, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft have begun touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google Chrome. It’s later to the game, but Chrome engineers have begun building a “privacy sandbox” despite Google’s reliance on ad revenue.
For all of the browsers listed here, you can give yourself a privacy boost by changing the default search engine. For instance, try DuckDuckGo. Although its search results may not be as useful or deep as Google’s, DuckDuckGo is a longtime favorite among the privacy-minded for its refusal to track user searches.
Other universal options that boost privacy include disabling your browser’s location tracking and search engine autocomplete features, turning off password autofills, and regularly deleting your browsing history. If you want to take your privacy to the next level, consider trying one of the virtual private networks CNET has reviewed that work with all browsers. (You can also check out our roundup of browser-based VPNs to try.)