Big changes are afoot in the ad-sponsored web, and the browser has become a key battleground for end-user privacy. While Chrome is by far the most widely used browser in the world, there are alternative browsers and ways to improve your privacy when using Chrome.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way yet to ensure total privacy through browsers, according to Dr Lukasz Olejnik, an independent privacy researcher and consultant, who led a large scale study in 2009-2011 that found web browsing histories can be used by online ad companies to fingerprint individual browsers over time.
Researchers from Firefox-maker Mozilla emulated his study in 2020 with 52,000 Firefox users, which confirmed Olejnik’s findings. They warned that Google’s and Facebook’s tighter grip on online advertising today makes the practice of re-identification through browsing histories an even more pressing privacy problem today.
Google’s FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) substitute for third-party cookies, which Google plans to block in 2022, is being trialed now with some Chrome users in the US and other markets except Europe, where Google recently admitted FLoC might not be compatible with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
But FLoC won’t solve the problem of browser fingerprinting. “Fingerprinting is here to stay and the removal of third-party cookies indeed does not impact on this technique,” says Olejnik.
Brave is a Chromium-based browser that by default blocks