Are you annoyed from the advertisements of products that you see while browsing online? Have you minimized your search for random products just because you fear that the same product would keep you haunting for days and months in anything, you do online? This is something that the browsers must think about. Isn’t it? But they aren’t. Privacy-first browsers are the focus of searchers only; the rest of the stakeholders, including the browsers, aren’t much concerned. Exceptions are always there and we’ll be discussing them here as well.
In this article, we are going to explore how are the browsers collecting your data and sharing it with third party users. We hope you all would be concerned about these things. Moreover, we’ll also try to see if there is really a browser with complete data protection. So, let’s start.
We use them every day. Some of us like Chrome whereas others prefer searching on Firefox.
With the introduction of Internet Explorer, people were provided with an opportunity to search and get the results of their queries. Being in the beginning phase, the focus of Internet Explorer was just to ensure that the researchers get the right kind of result. Although it was not as accurate as today, they were satisfactory. However, the security of data and privacy of the user were not the things that Internet Explorer considered important.
Again, the cookies developed were not of this level, neither they were used for the generation of vast customization that is being done today, but still, the data was collected, stored and often sold to the third party.
Era of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox:
Similar to Internet Explorer, the security element was not the focus of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox; rather, it tried to help the users through faster and reliable results. By the time when both these browsers were launched, the users of internet browsers were facing the problems regarding speed. So, the issue was resolved through these new services in the market.
Over time, with the increase in the number of internet users, higher penetration of the internet and the establishment of the online world as a lucrative means for the publishers, the privacy of users have emerged as the primary issue. In order to address this significant issue, a number of updates and security-related settings are updated in the prominent browsers, but the end results of all these efforts remain the breach of data and invasion into the privacy of the internet users.
For the users of Apple devices, Safari is the main browser, which also collects data of the users and tracks their online activities for the customization of the experience. However, over time Apple Inc. has realized that the interest of the users is important, and it has made the adjustments in the data it collects and the way it stores data. In the later part of the article, we are going to highlight the initiatives that the different browsers have made or failed to make for managing the privacy-first browsers for the users.
Availability of VPN Browsers:
Apart from these famous browsers, a variety of new browsers has been launched in the market. Some of them really provided protection against the cookies and tracking feature, but they were either paid or did not have a friendly user interface. So, even after the exploration of new means for data protection, most of the internet users are still at the mercy of the two largest browsers.
Data Security policy of different browsers:
Most of the browsers have started taking the security of the users seriously. They are trying to create new versions and ensure some default security measures to reduce the traceability of online users. All the leading browsers are in this race except Google Chrome. Many of you would be astonished to know that as Google is a large conglomerate, and for it, its users must be the most important ones. But unfortunately, they are not. In this section, we are going to provide you with some of the ways through which Chrome fools you and violates the restrictions that you have imposed, leading your data vulnerable. Let’s start with a few good browsers first.
VPN enabled browsers:
As discussed earlier, the higher technological and internet penetration has given rise to a number of new browsers to be part of this service provision industry. They might not provide the best user experience when it comes to the interface, but they definitely provide you with data security. Naming any one of these browsers are not going to be justifiable as each of the browsers comes with its own unique features for allowing data protection and ad blocking. If you really want to know about some of these browsers, then you can Google them with “privacy-first browsers” as the query and you’ll get the list of some of the prominent browsers with the required features.
Apple Safari is the prominent search engine for the users of Apple products. Although, it allows the websites to collect data, but still you can restrict the access and consider that your request would be honored by the technology giant.
In order to make the security and protection easier for you, Apple also released “intelligent tracking protection” for the iPhone users. This feature was released in the year 2017. The primary aim of this feature is to analyze the cookies and find the ones, which are bad. So, while browsing on Safari, you are going to see advertisements but rest assured your browser has not allowed everyone to sneak in your personal information. There are certain restrictions and the cookies not meeting up the criteria are not allowed to track you or your data in any way.
Definitely, this feature does not ensure that your activity online is unmonitored, but maybe it is less frustrating and more directed towards enhanced user experience in the form of privacy-first browsers rather than the income from the advertisements.
This is the browser from one of the non-profit organization, which aims to facilitate the users and make the life of the people easier. They have also been taking steps to protect the data of the users. Some of the steps that the developers of Mozilla Firefox have taken are mentioned below:
The first effort in this regard was made in the year 2015 when Mozilla launched the first version of the anti-tracking features. These features helped the browser to work on the privacy-first technique. According to these features, the cookies necessary for the normal operations of the websites were allowed, whereas the cookies that had the sole purpose of spying on the users and their information were fully blocked, automatically.
Additionally, another important aspect of the privacy protection services of the browsers involves the “default protection.” Firefox ensures that for users because not everyone is aware of how to fix those settings. Even some of the users are unaware that their data is being tracked (a drawback of not reading the terms of service). But in any case, Firefox provides them with the necessary protection.
Moreover, the sharing of data between Mozilla and Firefox is not done; thus, you can expect to search for things without keeping a record of them in your permanent profile. This is definitely leverage that the users of Firefox can avail unlike the users of Chrome browser.
Now, let’s talk about the browser that gets nearly two-third of the share from the search world i.e., Google Chrome. No doubt that the user interface, fast speed, and reliable results have made it possible for this browser to attain this position. But despite its world-class services, it should acknowledge the users as well by honoring their protection and data security.
As discussed above, most of the browsers provide a minimal level of security against the extra cookies. But the case of Chrome is different. It does not block any of the cookies even when you have selected the relevant settings. So, don’t even think to get the protection against cookies by default.
The functioning of Chrome even lets the websites that are considered private to track your data and use it for a better experience. This is beyond the level of acceptability, and the management of Chrome must realize that.
If you have been astonished by such revelations, then don’t be. There is more to come. If you are an android user and you search for something on your mobile device, then the Chrome stores the data with every query. No matter if you have allowed access to your location or not. In case of denied access, the location coordinates are managed with lesser accuracy.
Similarly, Chrome has no right to sign you in to your account without your permission. But if your Gmail was signed in when you started your browser, then you can see yourself logged in to Chrome as well. Although, the company claims that the data is not synched. But you can experiment that by yourself, and you’ll definitely see the visible evidence that your data has been tracked all along.
Mozilla Firefox vs. Google Chrome:
Being the top two browsers in the search industry, we believe that they should be compared against each other in terms of privacy. The initial analysis conducted above has shown both of the browsers to be the exact opposite of each other. So, you’ll have to make your choice according to your priorities.
Firefox honors your privacy and gets in the category of privacy-first browsers, whereas Chrome is nowhere near with the first priority given to the publishers. For Chrome, privacy can be an option, but Firefox maintains the initial level of privacy by default without considering it an option.
In case you are skeptical that the speed of Chrome would not be attained by browsing on Firefox, then you are wrong. The latest update of Firefox with Quantum features has made it possible to have neatly the same browsing speed. Once you’ll get used to it, you won’t even feel the difference.
The attitude of both browsers also set their focus and alignment. In the case of Chrome, it is not at all aligned with the objectives of the clients because it needs to get advertisements and earn money. It is basically the conflict of interest that is creating the entire problem.
However, the ball has always been in your court, and it is still here. It is you who is going to decide whether Chrome would be able to track your information or not. Switching to the other browsers can be an option. We are definitely not encouraging you to do so. It is upon your will and your priorities. We just presented the claims made by different browsers regarding the privacy-first browsing experiences that they provide.
There can be a lot more hidden things that we aren’t aware of, but the things that surface up till now clearly indicate that Chrome is not safe if your data security is a sensitive issue for you. Even on shifting to other browsers, you must be aware that you are still being tracked and you’ll see the customized advertisements but the degree of tracking would considerably less than Google Chrome.
How do you define the privacy-first browsers? Do you think that Google Chrome is doing right? What are the problems that you are facing as a result? Is changing the default browser in your options? Share your opinion in the comments section. Your information can provide value for others too. So, please don’t hesitate.