Google Chrome is not necessarily the best web browser for online privacy, but there are many free and reliable third-party extensions that can help.
There are many third-party Google Chrome extensions that can help improve user privacy. Chrome is the most popular web browser on desktops, but it’s not necessarily the most private. It is often criticized for its less-than-stellar privacy policies, and the fact that it is offered by Google – the world’s largest advertising company – doesn’t always provide people with much confidence in its privacy practices.
Online privacy gets a lot of attention, but is difficult to maintain, especially with websites, apps, and services collecting and storing copious amounts of user data. While most of it is used to sell targeted ads, the vast data can also be used for more nefarious purposes, which is why it is imperative that users pay more attention to their digital footprint, and how companies collect and disseminate that information.
One of the best privacy-related extensions on Google Chrome is Privacy Badger, which is offered by the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The extension learns to block invisible trackers based on their behavior. It sends the Global Privacy Control signal to websites to opt users out of data sharing and selling. It also sends a Do Not Track signal to tell companies not to track users. If trackers ignore those signals, the extension starts blocking them, thereby improving user privacy. It also replaces potentially useful trackers, such as video players and comments widgets, with click-to-play buttons, and removes outgoing link click-tracking on Facebook and Google. Overall, it is one of the best privacy extensions to use with Google Chrome.
Other Notable Chrome Privacy Extensions
Another notable offering from the EFF is HTTPS Everywhere, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It checks to see if websites are offering a ‘Secure’ HTTPS connection, and if they are, the add-on forces the site to use that connection. Most websites already use HTTPS connections by default instead of plain HTTP, but it is still a good tool for many other websites, helping users avoid malware threats and phishing attempts. Another essential privacy tool is the ClearURLs extension that removes tracking elements from links on Google, Amazon, and other websites. It works by removing the tracking code often added by websites to create a user profile, and also blocks some common ad domains for a cleaner online experience.
For reference, there are other notable privacy-related extensions available including Ghostery, PixelBlock, ScriptSafe, Unshorten.link, and DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials, among others. It is also worth noting that many of these Google Chrome extensions have overlapping functions, so it’s best to only use a few of them at a time, based on the requirements.
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