Internet browsers—Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari— are the entryway to the internet. They are also one of the first steps you can take to increase your privacy while online. Each of these browsers has built-in privacy features and settings that can minimize how much of your online activity someone else can see.
So, you’d rather not have your roommates know that you’ve been working out to Richard Simmons videos (it’s ok, we’re not judging!), or maybe you want to hide your engagement ring searches from your girlfriend. Perhaps you want to be able to privately search for information on domestic violence, dating abuse, or stalking without your partner knowing. These are all valid reasons why you’d want your internet browsing to be private. Particularly, for victims of abuse, in-browser privacy settings can help increase your privacy and safety.
We have a new handout that breaks down in-browser privacy settings for commonly used browsers. The steps in the handout may be slightly different depending on which version of the browser you’re using or what device you’re accessing it from, but it should still help point you in the right direction. Some of the most important in-browser settings to be aware of are the ones that allow you to manage what online searches and activity remain visible in your browser history. You may choose to use the private browsing mode to visit websites without any of that activity being logged in the browser history. You can also choose to go into your browser history and delete selected webpages or searches from the history so they will no longer be visible. For survivors of abuse, these tools can be critical to safety and privacy if an abuser is monitoring the computer/device activity by going through the browser history on the device. It’s important to note that in-browser privacy settings will not prevent someone from seeing your computer or device activity if they are using a spyware monitoring product. If you believe that your activity is being remotely monitored by someone, use another device to access information that you wouldn’t want them to see.
Check out the Steps to Increasing Browser Privacy handout for more information.