Some silly things I’ve been looking for on my phone lately: “how tall is Robert Pattinson”, “Bob Dylan with a mustache” and “Rogue Legacy 2 double jump”. All things that are slightly embarrassing, just a moment of useful and definitely not a fair expression of who I am as a human being. This is one of the reasons why I tend to use a “burning browser” that doesn’t store any history and is disconnected from my accounts.
I’ve been using this two-browser setup for years, so every random product, trivial or health-related search doesn’t haunt me for days or weeks. I still use the standard browser to work, where I want history, saved logins and other tracking-based conveniences. But using a burn browser, I separate the dumbest part of my brain (the part that looks for mostly meaningless trivialities that I immediately forget) from the useful part of my brain (the part that had to write this article).
To be clear, the burning browser doesn’t completely prevent companies from keeping track of all the stupid things you’re looking for on your phone during the day. Regardless of your browser, your phone releases all kinds of identification signals, such as your IP address, to potentially combine your clicks on “Weird Al biopic” search results with “What is Roku Channel” search. But using a browser that protects privacy and destroys history creates obstacles, if not barriers, for tracking companies for your most incredible or sensitive searches.
I use Firefox Focus for this purpose because it’s (mostly) private with little settings: by default, it blocks ads and trackers, doesn’t support tabs, and allows you to clear your browsing history with a single click. I just wish Google wasn’t the default search engine. That’s the only thing you need to change, and like this:
- Click the three-line icon, and then click Settings > Search engine.
- Select DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t store searches, link it to your account, or sell your data to advertisers.
If for some reason you don’t like Firefox Focus, DuckDuckGo has an app that works well as a burning browser.
As for my desktop, I tend to use the Tor browser, even if it’s slow. You can set another browser, such as Firefox, Edge, or Safari, to use more privacy-oriented search engines, avoid storing history, and not store cookies or anything else using private browsing mode. Usually, however, they do not block trackers or open a private window by default. Google’s Chrome browser still manages to send all kinds of data to Google, even in incognito mode. You may choose to block ads and trackers at all times, but most people probably want to keep their browsing history and stay logged in to at least a few sites, so it’s difficult to suggest that they take advantage of all available privacy approaches. for any browser you use daily.
None of the above is enough for true anonymity, but it should give you a little privacy and at least you won’t have the embarrassment of auto-filling when someone peeks over your shoulder while you’re looking for something unrelated and asking, “Earwax removal kits, what?”
One privacy tip: Remove Google search results
Google has introduced a way to request the removal of search results that contain your personal information. Wired has details on how this removal request works, although the process can be cumbersome if there are many results. If Google approves your request and removes the results, it won’t delete the source of the information, but getting that information from the most popular search engine will certainly be more difficult to find.
If you’ve ever searched for your name on Google and found your address on sites like Spokeo or Intelius, you can directly request removal. For do-it-yourselfers, journalist Yael Grauer has links to check-out forms for the worst offenders. If you can afford to pay for a service that can handle this process for you, our staff members have used DeleteMe and Canary Islands with good results, even though we have not tested these services because it is almost impossible.
More privacy news we follow
🕵️ Privacy concerns about possible voting Roe v. Wade
Publication of the draft opinion of the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade became a nationwide flash point, causing widespread concern and confusion. The knots of privacy were hard to untangle. To begin with, TechCrunch clarifies a number of potential privacy issues related to contemporary applications. Mother Jones has a detailed explanation that covers a wide range of digital privacy and security issues that might arise in the post.Roe world, and Wired explains the legal pretzel that big technology companies can face. Gizmodo has compiled a guide to digital security if you live in a state that can potentially ban abortion, and the Digital Defense Fund has more tips on keeping abortion safe and private.
📱 Google announces new privacy and security features that come to our devices
The most prominent part of Google’s I / O conference was the announcement of new products, including the new Pixel phones, Pixel watches and Pixel tablets, but Wired announces some exciting privacy and security enhancements that come with Android 13. Among them are some user-facing changes. , including adjustments to the way device permissions are handled, as well as new data tags in the Google Play store. However, operating system revisions also offer behind-the-scenes enhancements, such as software development suite transparency and a better channel for security updates. Google has also announced its own virtual credit card system, which hides your real credit card number for online purchases, similar to the service offered by Privacy.
🔑 Big tech is about to remove passwords
In an unlikely alliance, Microsoft, Google and Apple have agreed on a standard that will enforce passwordless login standards. This step would essentially replace user IDs and passwords with your phone for identification, similar to the concept of using physical security keys.
This article was edited by Mark Smirniotis.