The web browser has become the central app on today’s computers. It’s where people check email and social media, message friends, read news, play videos and music, attend school, do office work, and have socially distanced online meetups. You can learn a lot about someone from what happens in their browser, and dozens of companies do just that with cookies and other tracking technology that build up advertising profiles. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Google’s Chrome browser is fast and efficient. But Chrome has conflicting loyalties between its users and a parent company that is the world’s largest advertising firm. That’s not to say that Google is standing still. The new Chrome 86 includes an impressive list of security upgrades around areas such as password management and preventing harmful downloads. But privacy reforms still lag. For instance, Chrome has yet to disable third-party tracking cookies, although Google says it intends to in coming years.
But you don’t have to wait for Google. Firefox, a privacy-focused browser from the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, already blocks third-party cookies and a wide range of other tracking technologies. Firefox also offers many bonus features, such as the Pocket web-clipping tool and the ability to reformat web pages, so they are easier to read.