When it comes to the browser domain, there are quite a few noteworthy names. Each has managed to carve out its own niche segment based on its USP. While some focus on tons of customizations, others could brag about being the most stable one out there. However, it is no hidden secret that a privacy-focused browser is really the need of the hour.
While there’s always an option of using ad and tracker blockers extensions, browsing in incognito mode, and using the likes of VPN software or proxy services, but these aren’t closely knitted together and rather work as standalone entities.
On the other hand, privacy-centric browsers usually encapsulate all these features into one package and hence end up providing a much secure working environment. In this regard, there are quite a few browsers that could claim their dominance in this segment.
However, this ultimately ends up creating a problem of plenty for the end-user as to which one they should opt for. Well, it’s now time to put all those doubts to rest. This guide is going to make you aware of the best browser from the privacy perspective for your PC and smartphone devices.
So without further ado, let’s get started —
Tor is highly regarded as among the most privacy-enriched browsers and there are quite a few reasons through which it could justify this claim. One shouldn’t look any further than how it is able to relay the network connection.
When the data packets leave your device, it is straight away encrypted and then transferred via three different layers. In each of these layers, the traffic passes through a random node before ultimately reaching its destination, where it is then decrypted.
Apart from that, Tor Browser also beholds of some other useful features, such as:
- The automatic clearing of all your browser history and cookies as soon as the session is complete.
- Blocking of all the third-party trackers.
- Then by using NoScript, it is able to protect your device’s unique ID (Fingerprints) from unauthorized access.
- The fact that it doesn’t support most of the plugins is added to its good books, at least if we keep our focus on the privacy aspect.
However, the fact that each data packet gets transferred via three separate layers before reaching the intended destination might lead to a slower data exchange rate. Plus the lack of support for extension might disappoint a few users as well. So some trade-off has to be made if you’re going to settle with this browser.
Some users are of the opinion that Tor ends up becoming overprotective and hence falls short on the UI/UX aspect. Well, if you echo these thoughts as well, then Firefox shall be your go-to choice.
Making a rich balance between user privacy and the GUI, it has managed to checkmark most of the security flags.
Here are its most useful privacy features that Firefox could proudly boast of:
- Blocking the annoying popups and harmful trackers.
- Providing protection from malware, phishing, and anti-fingerprinting.
- Strict Privacy Level is known to block all the trackers that it comes across during your browsing session.
- The ability to customize the security level based on the user’s needs. These include the ability to create your own profile and decide which trackers and cookies you need to block.
However, by default, the browser sends your interaction and technical data directly to Mozilla. In its defense, it has provided the option to disable the sharing of telemetry data (via the about:preferences#privacy page). But if a browser is focused on being privacy-first, it should have instead opted for keeping this option disabled from the start.
This browser/extension has climbed up the ladders of best privacy enriched browsers in no time whatsoever. While it is majorly known for its hybrid search engine, its standalone browsers are already giving tough competition to the likes of Firefox and Tor.
Beholding some quite stringent security measures in its arsenal, it could easily do full justice to the aforementioned statement.
Then you could also add its below feature set to further cement DuckDuckGo claim:
- It automatically checks for the site’s HTTPS version, and if found, shall automatically take you there.
- Likewise, it is able to block all the ads as well as trackers that possess a risk to your online activities.
- Its Privacy Grade feature gives a rating from A to F to all the sites that you visit. So if a browser has a grade of E or F then it isn’t known to respect user data and you should probably maintain a safe distance from it.
- It has also baked its own search engine which is regarded by many as a much safer alternative to the likes of Google and Bing.
- Talking about the ease of usage, you could delete all tabs and browsing history with just a single tap of a button.
However, it isn’t available as a browser for Windows and Mac setup. So while Apple and Android device users could enjoy all its functionalities, PC users would have to settle for its extension, which in the true sense, is just a shadow of its browser.
This browser seems to have taken a rather ‘brave’ approach and whether or not it pays off, only time will tell. For the unaware, the browser has replaced all the ads with their own.
And if the users are willing to view these ads, then they will be rewarded with the browser’s own cryptocurrency aka Basic Attention Token. You could also send these BAT as a gratitude token to your preferred publishers and sites.
Now if we turn our attention towards the Brave Browser feature, here are some of the noteworthy ones:
- Built-in blockers that are known to stop all disruptive and intrusive ads as well as trackers that are in constant search for your online activities.
- Then it is also able to hide your fingerprint ID from being read by unauthorized users or scripts.
- Talking about scripts, the browser is known to block most, if not all, of the harmful scripts as well.
- Furthermore, it would automatically escalate your connection to the much secure HTTPS than compared with the native HTTP.
With that said, there have been a few clouds of uncertainty regarding its functionality. One major concern is how the website owners would end up benefiting from these BATs as compared to the tried and tested Ad agencies. As a result, there’s still some reluctance from a major chunk of the users.
While it has been over a decade since this browser first launched, however not much is known about it to date. Well, it could even be titled as the least popular browser in this list.
But keeping all that aside, it definitely deserves credit where it is due. One of its most striking features is the inbuilt proxy that is able to decrypt your data and even map your actual IP Address which will allow you to access geo-restricted contents.
Apart from that, there are a few other nifty baked-in privacy features, including:
- The ability to block data trackers, ads, and cookies
- Likewise, it offers the DuckDuckGo search engine as the default one.
- There are no auto-fills, no support for plugins, and even no sync functionality. As a result, it doesn’t save any data on its server, not even the auto-suggested keywords.
However, for some users, these restrictions are a lot to deal with, even if they take privacy into consideration. Well, we leave that decision up to individual users but if you believe that the restrictions are crossing the limits, then the five other browsers in this list have got you covered.
The entry of this offering from Microsoft in the Privacy segment might raise a few eyebrows. However, since its transition from the legacy to the Chromium build, it has taken some big strife forward towards strengthening user privacy.
While it has already established itself as a handy alternative to Chrome, it might soon stand next to Firefox in the priority queue as well.
On that note, here are some of the browser’s security essential features that managed to give it a place in this list:
- It comes with three levels of privacy, namely: Basic, Balanced, and Strict. As is evident from their names, the third level (Strict) tends to block all the trackers and scripts from loading. It may result in breaking of some old sites as well, so choose accordingly.
- There’s also an option to block those intrusive pop-up ads that tend to disrupt the normal workflow.
- However, it is with its Defender SmartScreen feature that takes away all the limelight. This recently added functionality will warn you beforehand if the site you are about to visit belongs to the phishing or malware category.
- Likewise, it will automatically block all downloads from untrusted and dangerous sources.
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- Privacy and Security Settings in Edge Android
But there is one area of concern: the browser will send the data related to how “you use the browser, websites you visit, and crash reports.” This option has been enabled by default and could only be disabled by digging deep into the Settings page (Optional Diagnostic Data section), which might easily escape from the eyes of the general users.
Bottom Line: Best Browser for Privacy
So this was all from this list of the best browsers for privacy-focused users. As you might have noticed, each of them has some unique ways to counter online privacy and protect user data.
In this regard, some have gone to the extent to restrict the normal browser functionality in exchange for a privacy-centric approach.
As per my personal preference, I have settled with the Firefox browser since it acts in an equilibrium manner giving equal weightage to the security/privacy aspect and the UI/UX.
If you still want to enhance the privacy and security of your browsing data, then you should consider using a VPN service. No matter which browser you use, the data is protected and safeguarded from intruders.
Well, this was from my end, what’s your take on this? Do let us know in the comments section which browser you ultimately settled for.