It’s time you ditched Chrome for a privacy-first web browser

Like it or not, your web browser has become your online journal. Our searches chronicle every thought, interest and desire that pops into our brains. They’re exposed to our dumb questions plus our highly sensitive political leanings and sexual preferences.

And it’s likely that you’ve given all that information to Google – one of the world’s biggest advertising companies. The web giant almost has a monopoly over Western internet web search: Google Chrome has 70 per cent of desktop browser use, an increase of 13 per cent in just three years.

Every search term you tap into Google forms part of your online identity and helps to create a better profile of your interests. The result? You’re worth more money to advertisers.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The last few years have seen the rise of anti-tracking web browsers, which promise to be better at protecting your privacy and want to reinvent how the online advertising ecosystem operates. There may be some trade-offs with the quality of search results if you’re looking for an answer that’s not listed on the first page, but how often do you really venture that far?


Brave is perhaps the newest of the privacy-enhanced browsers and it has big aims. It uses blockchain-based tokens as an alternative to traditional web advertising. The browser knows where users are spending their time online and can then issue its own Ethereum-based cryptocurrency tokens to content publishers.

Away from the crypto-aspect, the browser doesn’t store where you’ve been online, blocks and hides advertising trackers that follow you around the web plus has default settings that block plugins and potential malware. Brave is one of the few privacy-first browsers that has its own desktop version, rather than providing a plugin that enhances Chrome’s settings.

Get it: iOSAndroiddesktop


Ghostery started its life as a browser extension that’s designed to block and highlight online advertising tracking. The platform is available as a standalone browser on mobile, but as a plugin for Chrome opera, Firefox, Edge and Safari.

It blocks advertising trackers, social media tracking tools, analytical tools, and gives detailed breakdowns on what is operating on every website you visit. It is owned and developed by German company Cliqz, which has its own web browser as well.

Get it: iOSAndroidbrowser plugins


You may believe using Tor is too onerous to justify your time. But the Tor network, with its layers of encryption and routing through various locations, is the best way to protect your identity online. Plus, in recent years it’s become simpler to use.

In May 2019, after a long wait, the first official Tor browser for Android was released. This adds to the iOS browser and desktop version. Put simply the Tor browser options are like any other web browser and should be used like one – it just has significantly advanced privacy and anonymity features. It will block trackers, attempt to make all users appear the same, avoid local blocks of websites from internet service providers all while adding triple-encryption to your traffic.

Get it: iOSAndroid desktop


DuckDuckGo started its life as a search engine built to oppose Google’s data collecting ways but has since branched out into browsers too. Its browsers are available for mobile devices, but not on desktop (for that you need to install a Chrome extension).

The firm’s browsers force encrypted HTTPS encryptions to be used whenever possible and blocks advertising trackers from the websites you visit. It also promises not to track your browsing history at all. Much like Ghostery, DuckDuckGo ranks the websites that you visit based on how much they track you. Using its Privacy Grade feature sites from A – F. Be warned: the company says hardly any websites get an A.

Get it: iOSAndroid, or as a Chrome extension

FireFox Focus

FireFox has been around since 2002, but Mozilla, the foundation that creates the browser, is trying to set it apart from other big names by putting privacy first. This is most obvious with its supercharged mobile browser FireFox Focus.

Focus automatically blocks adverts with hidden cookie trackers and lets you delete all other cookies and browsing history with one button. Mozilla claims because it blocks adverts it will speed-up your browsing. The downside of Focus is that it isn’t available on your desktop. For that you need the regular version of Firefox, which can block intrusive cookies but this isn’t on by default.

At present, Mozilla has paused development on Firefox focus for Android. Instead, it is developing a completely reinvented version of its browser called Firefox preview. This new version doesn’t rely on Google’s underlying browser engine to power its operation

Get it: iOSAndroid

All Rights Reserved for Matt Burgess

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