Choose Privacy: Web Browsers

Eye looking through a keyhole

Our library is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our users. Protecting your privacy and confidentiality can help protect you against identity theft. Moreover, privacy is essential to your ability to explore new ideas - even controversial ones - without fear of being judged, punished, ostracized, or put under surveillance.  

Protecting your privacy is a team effort, and we can't do it alone; you also have an important role in keeping your information safe. In this third post of our series on privacy, we'll delve into a slightly more advanced topic: browsers and browser extensions.

Your browser is the program that you use to browse the internet. Examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Many browsers have extensions (or add-on programs) available that can increase your security, and other browsers have security measures built in to protect you without requiring additional extensions. These options require installation on your own computer, and thus cannot be used on library-provided computers.  

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are small, add-on programs that attach to an existing web browser that you already have installed on your computer. Different browser extensions are available on different browsers.

  • HTTPS Everywhere: Encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. 
  • Privacy Badger: Blocks spying ads and invisible trackers.
  • Allows users to see advertising, analytics, and social media tracking cookies. Provides options for disabling them globally or site-by-site. 
  • Ghostery: Allows users to see and block advertising and social media trackers, scripts, elements, and cookies, with opt-out options. 

Privacy-minded Browsers

Some lesser-known browsers put privacy first and foremost; often, these browsers will block potentially harmful scripts or enable secure browsing (https) by default. Essentially, these browsers come with the above extensions already installed and enabled. 

  • Brave: This browser blocks ads and trackers by default, and transmits traffic over https by default.
  • Tor: This browser makes it difficult to track users by routing online activity through a global network of relays and by encrypting your IP address. However, it does not work for all websites.