Everyday, the internet is used by billions of people for personal and business use. It is the ultimate source of information for anyone looking to learn practically anything. There has been an increased amount of concern around internet privacy, especially since Congress repealed internet privacy protection back in 2017. ISPs (internet service providers) now are not required to ask permission before tracking and selling your information. Since you likely don’t want your online data being collected and sold without your knowledge, we’ll discuss ways you can protect it.
What Is Browsing Data?
Simply put, browsing data is all the information that is collected when using a web browser.
Most common types of data include:
- Download and browsing history
- Your device’s orientation
- Fonts and language
- Social media login
- Mouse movements
- Hardware and software
- Connection information
- Image data
- Other technical information
How To Protect Your Browsing Data
Use Private or Incognito Mode
By turning on Private or Incognito mode on your web browser, you are blocking third-party cookies from tracking your activities in between different sites. In addition to that, the first-party cookies are also wiped out once you leave a site.
Disable Location Details
Since many websites request browsers to share the physical location of users, this is an important measure to take. This is how you disable location tracking for the following browsers:
- Select the Chrome Menu Button (⋮ or ≡).
- Tap On Settings.
- Scroll down and select Advanced.
- Under Privacy and Security, click on Content settings…
- Navigate to the Location section.
- Click the slider for Ask before accessing.
- In Safari, select Preferences.
- Tap on the Privacy icon.
- Select Deny without prompting.
- In the URL bar, enter about:config
- You will see a “this might void your warranty” warning. Click I accept the risk!
- In the search bar, enter geo.enabled
- Double click on the geo.enabled preference so that the value becomes false
Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Tap on the Gear Icon.
- Select Internet Options.
- Click on the Privacy tab.
- Under “Location”, check the box for Never allow websites to request your physical location.
- On your Windows 10 Desktop, hit Win + A to open Action Center.
- Select All Settings > Privacy > Location.
- Click the Location Service slider to turn it off.
- Scroll down to Location History.
- Under Clear history on this device, click Clear.
Use A Private Search Engine
A private search engine works by anonymously querying big sites like Google and Bing. This helps keep your personal details hidden while still getting great results. Here are some of the top private search engines in 2019:
- Disconnect Search
Disable Tracking On Social Media Sites
Since we share so much of ourselves on Social Media, it is very easy to track what our interests are. In order to disable personalized ads on social media sites, you will have to login to each profile you have and make adjustments to the ad settings.
Use Ad Blocker Plugins
Ad blocker plugins prevent advertisers to build your profile based on your internet activities, and stop annoying ads by blocking cookies. Here are some of the plugins you can try:
- Privacy Badger
- AdBlock Plus
For Further Protection
While blocking intrusive ads might be great, the above methods do not do much in the face of greater threats. To protect yourself from something more malicious, you would need to resort to the following methods.
Use a VPN
A VPN works by masking your real IP address. This keeps your location and browsing information anonymous so that it doesn’t trace to you. It can also be used if you are in a country that has strict internet laws. Here are some of the top rated VPN services:
- Hotspot Shield
- CyberGhost VPN
- IPVanish VPN
Not to be confused with Private or Incognito mode, Private browsers are a replacement to your standard browsers such a Chrome and Safari. If used with a VPN, a private browser is a great security measure to take to protect your data. These are some of the most popular private browsers:
- Tor Browser
- Firefox Quantum
- Brave Browser
- Epic Browser
- HTTPS Everywhere
Whether you are worried about the government spying on you or you just want to stop seeing those same intrusive ads, the above methods will help keep your browsing data private. Just remember, there is no 100% secure way to browse the internet without ruining the experience. But by using a VPN and a private browser, you have a solid layer of protection.
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