Open your browser to take a look at the web. Do you know who looks back at you?
In the last week of surfing the web, I looked under the hood of Google Chrome and found that it brings several thousands of friends. Shopping, news, and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to allow ads and data companies to ride a shotgun as I clicked on the web.
This was made possible by the biggest spy on the Web: Google. Looking inside, the Chrome browser looks very much like surveillance software.
Recently I'm researching the secret life of my data, doing experiments to see what technology really gets under the guise of privacy policies that no one reads, It turns out that the world's largest advertising company makes the most popular web browser as clever as to allow children to launch a candy store.
This made me decide to throw Chrome for a new version of Mozilla's non-profit Firefox which has default privacy protection. The change included fewer inconveniences than you can imagine.
My Chrome vs. Firefox tests have revealed personal information about absurd proportions. In a week of surfing the web on my desktop, I found 1
Chrome welcomes trackers even on websites that you think will be private. I watched Aetna and the federal student help website set cookies for Facebook and Google. They secretly told the giants of data every time I downloaded the inscription pages at the insurance and credit service.
And that's not half of it.
Look in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. See a photo or a name in the circle? In this case, you're signed in to the browser and Google can join your web activity to target your ads. Do not remember entry? Me neither. Chrome has started to do this automatically when you use Gmail.
Chrome is even more sneaking on your phone. If you're using Android, Chrome sends your location to Google every time you search. (If you disable location sharing, you are still sending your coordinates with less accuracy.)
Firefox is not ideal – it is still by default searched on Google and allows for other tracking. But it does not share browsing data with Mozilla that is not in the data collection business.
As a minimum web sniffing can be annoying. Cookies are the way a pair of trousers that you watch on a site end up behind you in ads elsewhere. More fundamentally, the history of your website – like the color of your pants – is no one but yours. Leaving anyone to collect this data, it leaves it ripe for abuse by abusers, spies, and hackers.
Google Product Managers told me in an interview that Chrome gives priority to the choice and control of privacy and they are working on new cookies. But they also said they needed to get the right balance with a "healthy web ecosystem" (read: advertising business).
Firefox product managers told me they do not see privacy as an "option" related to controls. They began a war on surveillance, starting this month with "enhanced tracking protection," which blocks "curious" cookies by default in new Firefox installations. But in order to succeed, Firefox first has to convince people to take care of enough to overcome the inertia of switching.
This is a tale of two browsers – and the different interests of the companies that make them. ” width=”977″ style=”width: 100%;”/>
Fighting with Cookies
Ten years ago, Chrome and Firefox took advantage of the enormous Microsoft Internet Explorer. The Chrome launcher solves real problems for users, making the internet safer and faster. Today it dominates over half the market.
Recently, however, many of us have realized that our privacy is also a major concern in the web – and Chrome's interests are no longer consistent with ours.
This is most visible in the fight for cookies. These code snippets can do useful things, such as memorizing the contents of the shopping cart. But now many cookies belong to data companies that use them to tag your browser so they can follow your path like crumbs in the proverbial forest.
They are everywhere – a study finds third-party tracking cookies at 92 percent of websites. , The Washington Post website has about 40 cookies, an average of a news site that the company claims in a statement that is used to deliver better targeted ads and track ad performance.
You will also find them on non-ad sites: both Aetna and FSA state that cookies on their sites help to measure their own external marketing campaigns.
The blame for this mess belongs to all advertising, publishing and technology. But what is the responsibility of a browser that protects us from code that does not do much more than espionage? Screen Saver 2019 06 21 at 4.07.13 pm ” width=”1362″ style=”width: 100%;”/> (Jeffrey Fowler / Washington In 2015, Mozilla debuted a version of Firefox that included anti-tracking technology included only in its Private Browsing Mode After years of testing and tuning, this is what triggered this month on all websites, and this is not about blocking ads – they're still spreading, but Firefox is analyzing cookies instead. Decide which to keep for critical site features and blocked for spying
The Apple Safari browser, used and iPhone has also begun to implement "smart tracking protection" to cookies in 2017.
So far, Chrome remains open for all the cookies by default, and Google has announced a new effort last month to force cookies to identify cookies, and they said we could expect new controls for them after they were released, but that would not give a timeline or tell if this would be the default to stop the trackers.
I do not hold my breath. Google itself, through its Doubleclick and other advertising companies, is the number one cookie maker, Fields of the Web. It is hard to imagine that Chrome ever interrupted Google's manager.
Cookies play a role in user privacy, but narrow focus on cookies clouds the wider privacy discussion because this is just one way for users to be tracked on sites. Ben Galbraith, Chrome Product Management Director. "This is a complex problem and simple cookie blocking solutions block tracking in more opaque practices."
There are other tracking techniques – and the rivalry of confidentiality weapons will become more difficult. But by saying that things are too complicated, this is also a way of doing nothing.
"Our point of view is first to deal with the biggest problem, but to predict where the ecosystem will shift and work to protect against these things," said Peter. Dolanjski, Firefox's flagship product.
Both Google and Mozilla said they were working on "fingerprints", a way to invent other tags in your computer. Firefox is already testing its capabilities and plans to activate it soon
Browser choice is no longer just for speed and convenience – it's also the default data.
It is true that Google usually gets consent before collecting data and offers many buttons, you can adjust to opt out of tracking and targeted advertising. But his controls often feel like a shell game that leads to sharing more personal data.
I felt overwhelmed when Google quietly signed Gmail users to Chrome last fall. Google claims that Chrome changes did not cause anyone's browsing history to sync unless they specifically chose, but found that my browser had been sent to Google and I do not recall having wanted further surveillance. (You can turn off automatic Gmail login by searching for "Gmail" in Chrome settings and turning off "Allowing Chrome sign in.")
After changing the entry, John Hopkins, Associate Professor Matthew Green, made waves in the world of computer science when has written a blog that he's done with Chrome. "I lost faith," he told me. "It takes only a few small changes to make it obscene for privacy." ” width=”974″ style=”width: 100%;”/>
There are ways to defragment Chrome, which is a lot more complicated than simply using "incognito" mode. But it's much easier to switch to a browser that is not owned by an advertising company.
Like Green, I chose Firefox, which works on different phones, tablets, computers and Mac. Apple's Safari is also a good option for Mac, iPhones, and iPad, and the Brave Browser niche goes even further in an attempt to silence the ad-tech industry.
What will the transition to Firefox cost you? It's free, and downloading a different browser is much easier than changing phones.
In 2017, Mozilla released a new version of Firefox called Quantum, which made it much faster. In my tests, I feel almost as fast as Chrome, although benchmark tests have found that in some contexts it may be slower. Firefox says it is better to manage memory if you use many and many tabs.
Switching means you have to move your bookmarks and Firefox offers help tools. Passing passwords is easy if you use a password manager. Most browser add-ons are available, although you may not find your favorites.
Mozilla has to overcome the challenges. Among the privacy advocates, the non-governmental organization is known with caution. It took a year longer than Apple to make blocking cookies by default. Mozilla's Chief Executive Officer says the company is exploring new paid data protection services to diversify its income.
The biggest risk is that Firefox might someday lose steam in its battle with Chrome behemoth. Although this is desktop browser number 2, with about 10% of the market, large sites may decide to stop support, leaving Firefox encrypted.
If you're interested in privacy, let's hope for another result from David and Goliath. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the point of view of the editorial board of ScienceAlert. 2019 © The Washington Post
This article was originally posted by The Washington Post .