What browser do you use on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone? If you answered Safari then you’re in the majority of Apple’s customers. If you answered Google Chrome then you’re in the majority of all internet browser users. Safari and Chrome are the most used browsers on mobile devices.
Does it matter? Are not all browsers pretty much the same? Websites look the same. They’re all fast at rendering webpages. Most of the major browsers have built-in privacy and security options, right?
What difference does a browser choice make?
Here’s why it matters and why I’ve become something of an evangelizer for alternative browsers which put privacy and security above a stack of features. One of the most important issues for humanity going into the 21st century is privacy.
The European Union has come out in favor of user privacy; much to the chagrin of internet powerhouses, including Google. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is a powerful start against malicious corporations and their ability to track their users without users really knowing what’s going on.
What’s the problem with a browser choice?
The single most used browser on planet earth is Google’s Chrome. It’s the user leader on Windows PCs, competes well against Safari on the Mac, comes in at #2 on iPhone and iPad, but is far ahead of alternatives on Android smartphones.
What’s the problem?
Chrome is a tracking machine whose sole purpose in life is to track users while they’re online; either searching for websites or visiting websites. Google’s search mechanism is always on. Always. Most people don’t know that. Most people don’t know they’re being tracked. Most people don’t understand the dilemma they put themselves in by being tracked.
Data is collected on your searches and search results and which websites you click to. Data is collected when you browse to other websites. The vast majority of those websites, in turn, use Google Analytics which also tracks your online stops. Google collects that data in, thanks to unscrupulous advertisers and marketers, use that data against you to modify your thinking about a product, to manipulate your political considerations, and much, much more.
What about Facebook? Yes, Facebook does the same thing but remains somewhat more insular in nature than Google which is far more pervasive online.
What about the browser?
Choose a browser that puts privacy first, not third or fourth down the list of options to turn on. I like Safari and I appreciate what Apple does to provide more privacy options, but Apple puts Google as the default search engine.
See a problem with that?
More recently I’ve been using the free Brave browser on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and I applaud what Trend Micro has done with the Zero Browser, both of which place restrictions on website trackers. With a little fiddling you can do the same thing in Mozilla’s still popular Firefox.
The idea here is to thwart the trackers because they use data collected from you to manipulate your thinking for products and politics. Do your own thinking. Choose a better, more private browser.
Oh, and add a VPN.