Last updated: December 6, 2018
Your Browser’s Digital Footprint Is Betraying Your Privacy
Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more
You know that when you browse the web, you’re not doing so anonymously. But do you know just how much personal data you’re giving away?
Most people don’t know the extent of information that it’s possible to gather from your Internet browsing. With just a bit of code, websites can easily determine your computer specifications, including your operating system, what browser you’re using, how big your monitor is, and even which fonts are installed on your computer.
The sum of all that data is known as your digital footprint, and it’s used to track your movements across the web. Over 80% of browsers are unique and can be distinguished from others using that data.
Webmasters find this type of information valuable, since they can use their data on your actions to optimize their websites to get more traffic. Advertisers also love this type of detailed information, since they can get more for their money by targeting their ads to the demographic most likely to respond to them. The NSA is also gathering information on what people are doing online, collecting their personal data, tracking their actions online, and even reading their private emails.
Protecting the privacy of your personal data is important. In your home and day-to-day life, you have a right to privacy: it would be illegal for someone to watch your actions through your window and listen in on your conversations. Yet, in effect, this is what’s happening with your actions and conversations online.
The UN has voted that we have the same right to privacy online as we do offline, and has called on member countries to be transparent in their gathering of personal data and exactly how they plan to use it.
But while the UN resolution carries political weight, it’s not legally binding to its members. Instead, we’re left to take measures to protect our privacy on our own.
Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as you might think. Just using “incognito mode” on your browser won’t cut it. Instead, check out the options below to find out how you can make your own digital footprint more anonymous so it can’t be used to identify you and track your actions online.