The future of browser privacy

At first, the competition between browsers online was centered on attracting users by introducing new features that permit a faster loading speed, better graphics or more adaptability. Thus, the recent updates show that the focus on the user’s privacy is becoming the new major differentiation factor.

Both competition and R&D collaboration in the browsing market are making privacy a priority. Nevertheless, browsers are adopting different privacy protection approaches and viewpoints who are not necessarily equal in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

What can browsers do to increase privacy?

Browsers can take different measures to stand in the tracking way of websites and ad networks such as: blocking pre-implanted trackers in websites, encrypting the user’s navigation information, supporting third-party extensions and attaching anti-fingerprinting tools.

Furthermore, dealing with third-party websites, commonly known as “cookies”, is considered as a major topic of debate. While certain browsers (firefox, safari and Brave) are taking hardline approach by blocking most of them, others are taking a few privacy-friendly steps at this point.

What are they actually doing?

On January 27th – 29th, the 2020 USENIX Enigma conference was taking place in San Francisco gathering privacy experts, security researchers and representatives from Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and brave. They’ve all exposed how their company is developing better privacy measures and tools to protect their users. We will show at the following part how each of them insure private and secure surfing.

Chrome

Leader of the browsing industry, Google chrome is now occupying two-thirds of the market share similarly on desktop and mobile. Concerning privacy measures, Chrome developers have been working on a new set of standards, known as the “privacy Sandbox” that guarantees a better balance between user’s protection and advertiser’s interests. Practically, those standards will anonymously collect and disseminate data for marketers.

Being a major ad distributor, google is taking smaller steps in terms of ads cookie’s blocking. Even if its representatives affirm that the blocking adds cookies by default will be integrated soon, but this implementation phase will take two years before being fully operational.

Firefox

Developed by the Mozilla foundation and thousands of volunteers, Firefox was and is still fighting for a safer and a better future of the Web.

Accordingly, Mozilla has established many tools in order to enhance the user’s level of protection and control over its personal Data. Such as Monitor (data reporting service), Lockwise ( password manager), Send and a specific VPN service is still on test period nowadays.

Moreover, Firefox protects its users from social media tracking, especially Facebook, by running their sites in “containers” so that they won’t be able to follow you around while visiting other websites.

Edge

Microsoft Edge is Microsoft’s web browser designed to replace Internet Explorer and be a trustworthy option in the market. It is built on Google’s Chromium software but it is fully developed by Microsoft in order to keep the browser safe from any possible intrusion.

The communication about Edge’s privacy policy is “quiet” as Edge’s Lawrence said: “We don’t really show off the privacy features at the top level, there’s not a lot of communicators saying, ‘Hey, we’re protecting you in this way or that way.'”

Brave

Brave is an open-source web browser that aims to protect privacy in various ways such as blocking trackers or preferring pages in HTTPS with the HTTPS Everywhere extension. The browser also integrates a blockchain transaction identifier (token) in order to remunerate the various parties anonymously. It also uses WebTorrent technology to directly download shared files via the BitTorrent network, from a Magnet link.

In Conclusion, browser developers are taking a main course of action towards having a more secure and private experience for all users. And although companies differ in terms of strictness of their protection, there is definitely a huge progress made compared to the last few years.

A propos de Wissal MORHLIA

Etudiante en M2 commerce électronique à l'université de strasbourg. Passionnée par le marketing et le monde digital.

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