Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Privacy Tools: How to Safely Browse the Web

web-privacy-concept

It’s not easy to keep your data private while surfing the Internet, but here are a few tools that can help.

In the course of writing her book, Dragnet Nation, ProPublica reporter Julia Angwin tried various strategies to protect her privacy. In this post, she distills the lessons from her privacy experiments into useful tips for readers.

One of the easiest and simplest things you can do to protect your privacy is to be a smarter Web browser.

This is surprisingly difficult because most popular Web browsing software is set up to allow users to be tracked by default. The reason is simple economics—you don’t pay for Web browsing software, so the companies that make it have to find other ways to make money.

Many of the tools that Web browsers offer to protect privacy are not effective. Tracking companies have refused to honor the “Do Not Track” button. And Google Chrome’s “Incognito” mode and Internet Explorer’s “InPrivate Browsing” mode won’t protect you from being tracked.

The most egregious example of this conflict came in 2008 when Microsoft’s advertising executives helped quash a plan by the engineers to build better privacy protections into the Internet Explorer 8 Web browser. Microsoft has since added additional protections—but they are not turned on by default. The situation is no better at Google, whose Chrome Web browser has “buried and discouraged” the “Do Not Track” button, and is pioneering the use of new tracking technology that cannot be blocked. And it’s worth noting that the other big Web browser maker, Mozilla Corp., receives 85 percent of its revenues (PDF) from its agreement to make Google the default search engine on Firefox.

For the rest of the story: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/nature-and-technology/privacy-tools-safely-browse-web-75011/

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