True or False: Private browsing protects your privacy.
By Carolyn Hauck
Posted in: Tech Support
When you browse the internet you open yourself up to a multitude of privacy issues. Searching on any major search engine like FireFox, Safari, or Chrome begins a trail of site tracking by search engines and browsers. As most people know by now, search engines collect your IP address and place cookies on your computer so that they can track your search and site visiting history. One of the main purposes of this activity is to collect and analyze data so that you as a user see results or advertisements that pertain to your search history. You might have noticed by now that, if say, you search for a pair of Clark’s shoes, then the next site you open a window or visit a site with advertisements, you will see an advertisement for Clark’s shoes.
All of the major browsers like FireFox, Safari and Chrome now have within them, or will soon have within them, a privacy feature that will enable you to search the web without your browsers placing cookies on your computer that store many site you visit on your computer. These modes are named things like InPrivate Browsing, Private Browsing, and Incognito mode. For example, in FireFox, go to Tools > Start Private Browsing. The main purpose of this new privacy feature allows users to search and download files without their computer storing the search history for other users to see later or so that browsers can place cache on your computer to offer you a browsing experience they think will be most relevant to you.
However, browsers will still track you and collect your information. Here’s the difference as explained by Kamil Anwar, a computer expert on JustAnswer.
“This new privacy feature disables browsers from storing cache on your computer, making it impossible to retrieve your search history later. However, they will still track you. Things like cookies and browsing history are cleared when you close the window with the new privacy setting, but this does not hide your IP (Internet Protocol) address and logins to various sites. Search engines will still remember what you have searched for and your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can still see what you’re looking at.”
Privacy and tracking are fast becoming a big concern for internet users. Search engines like DuckDuckGo are make headlines with their anti-tracking philosophy, meaning they won’t look at what you’re looking at through your IP address.
You can also look into browser plug-ins like AdBlock, that disable tracking and privacy tools such as NoScript for Firefox to completely block tracking.
Final verdict? False. Private browsing truly protects your privacy.
Let computer experts help you set up a private searching environment based on what search engine you use and what privacy issues are most important to you.