Browser privacy setting for private browsing.
It is increasingly difficult to connect to the Internet with privacy. Webs control us, ISPs follow us, and even browsers have us identified at all times, sharing our identity with the websites we visit. Privacy, although many webuser ignore it. It is a fundamental aspect when connecting to the Internet safely, without problems. Although to achieve it, you must know how to configure a browser, such as Google Chrome, correctly to improve privacy and avoid giving more data than necessary to websites and Internet companies.
Google Chrome is the most common web browser in the world. 7 out of 10 users connect to the Internet through it. However, this browser is developed and maintained by Google. And the primary source of income for this company is advertising. Therefore, the main objective of Google is to have users controlled and identified at all times. Being able to know their tastes and interests and show them personalized advertising wherever they go. And the same happens with many other websites that we usually access daily. Such as Facebook (and other social networks), Amazon, and even Aliexpress.
By default, Chrome is a secure browser, but it does not respect the privacy of users.
Next, we are going to explain how we can configure this browser to improve privacy. Of course, before continuing, we recommend visiting our Google account page to review all the data. Here we can find relevant information that we may be interested in configuring. And we will also be able to review (and disable) ad personalization, checking everything Google knows about us.
One of the first settings that directly affect our privacy is to log into the browser with our Google account. Admittedly, this has advantages, such as sync passwords, history, and bookmarks with the cloud and all devices. But it allows Google to have us identified, and although for the company, we are only an identifier (ID number), it knows perfectly what account that ID is associated with it.
We can configure all the synchronization options with our Google account writing in the address bar of the browser: «chrome: // settings / syncSetup».
As we can see, Google has us perfectly identified through this panel. To prevent this from happening, we must click on “Deactivate”, next to our account, to disable the synchronization options. We can also enter the “Manage what you sync” section to choose which data we want to send to Google and which not.
At the bottom of this panel, we will find a section called «Other Google services«. We are going to find a series of options and additional functions that, to use them, it is necessary to share with Google everything we do and write in the browser. To protect our privacy when using Chrome, we must deactivate all these Google services, avoiding sending more information than necessary to the company.
Configure cookies and website permissions
Set browser cookies
One of the most used elements to control the privacy of users are cookies. These are small configuration files that often contain personal information about us. For example, there are session cookies that allow us to authenticate on a website. And not have to be logging in every time we enter a website. And tracking cookies, which can be consulted by other websites to know where we are going. These cookies are one of the base pillars on which personalized advertising is based.
Although we will not have much control over these small files, Google Chrome offers us a series of options that we can configure to try to browse more privately. We can get to the cookie settings panel by typing the following in the address bar: Chrome: // settings / cookies.
Within the “general configuration” we will be able to configure what we want to do with these cookies. For example, we can always allow them, block third-party cookies (tracking ones) when we use incognito mode, always block third-party cookies or block all cookies.
We are also going to find some other options that can help us improve privacy a little. For example, the option “delete cookies and website data when leaving Chrome” will allow us to delete all cookies every time we close and open the browser, preventing them from tracking us from previous sessions. And also the option “send a request not to follow up with your browsing traffic” that indicate to the websites that we do not want them to follow us. Although all websites ignore this request.
Finally, we must also keep web preloading deactivated, since we will be sending predictive data to Google search only by typing in the address bar.
Control web permissions
As for permissions, we can access this section by typing “chrome: // settings / content” in the address bar. From here, we will be able to control what web pages can or cannot access.
In this configuration page, we will be able to see a list of all the websites that have special permissions. (both allowed and blocked). Also, a list of the different permissions (choosing how the sites can or cannot access them) and the content they may or may not access.
Other options to improve privacy
By default, Google Chrome configuration is to search through Google. And this, of course, implies no privacy. By writing a keyword in the address bar «chrome: // settings / search» we can go to the search engine configuration section. And there we can change «Google» for a more private engine that doesn’t control us as much, like DuckDuckGo. A simple change in the setting will allow you to considerably increase Chroe’s privacy.
We will also be able to configure the behavior of the new tab here, preventing each new tab from automatically opening a Google search engine.
Within “chrome: // settings/languages” we will be able to find the language and correction options. If we have activated the “improved spelling check,” we must know that all our text is shared with Google. Therefore, we must disable this option.
Private browsing extensions
The previous options allow us to surf the Internet with a “plus” of privacy, but there is still much room for improvement. And Google Chrome does not offer us much more possibilities to reinforce our privacy. Therefore, if we want to take this to a new level, it is advisable to resort to the use of extensions designed for this purpose.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation extension is one of the most comprehensive in allowing us to control our privacy. This extension will allow us to block all third-party trackers that are generated when we surf the net. In addition, it sends a Do Not Track request and has advanced algorithms that allow blocking a website that is controlling us.
If we are one of the users who usually install many extensions, this extension becomes an essential one to protect our privacy. Privacy Guardr is in charge of analysing the permissions of the extensions installed in Chrome and helps us find out if any of them may pose a danger to our security or privacy or if they are all secure.
Vanilla Cookie Manager
And if we want to have full control over cookies, then we must install Vanilla Cookie Manager. This extension will allow us to manage several cookie lists easily—white list for the allowed ones, a blacklist for the blocked ones. Activate functions to block all cookies by default and even delete them automatically every so often or manually after visiting a web page.
Chromium-based private alternatives
Nothing that bears the name of Google will be synonymous with privacy. And although we can choose other browsers, such as Firefox, we may feel much more comfortable using the Google browser, since we are used to it.
Luckily, Google Chrome is based on Chromium. An open-source web browser that, is also created by Google. And, besides, other developers have taken Chrome (specifically Chromium). They have removed everything related to Google and have given us a higher degree of privacy.
Chromium is Google’s open-source browser on which Chrome is built. It has a faster development and is more secure and private than Chrome since it does not have all the company’s services integrated as standard. A good option for them who just want to get away from Google a little but still have the company insight.
Edge is Microsoft’s web browser, installed by default on Windows 10. Since 2020, this browser works on Chromium. That is, Microsoft has taken the Google engine, removed everything related to the company, and created its web browser, modern, very safe, and high performance. This browser does not include any tracking or control system from Google, although Microsoft, in return, has introduced its search engine: Bing. Therefore, if we choose this option, we must control its operation to prevent this company from controlling our privacy.
Ungoogled-Chromium is an alternative web browser, available on GitHub, whose objective is to bring users the Chromium browser but free from Google services. In this way, users who want a browser not controlled by any company will be able to have it thanks to this project and block all Google services. This browser also has a series of scripts and settings always to take our privacy to the maximum.