Privacy while Browsing

A staggering amount of data gets can be scraped while using websites, social media and apps.

Facebook for example frequently gets caught out using dubious practices to gather personal data, acts like its doing something about it then carries on as usual.

Can I prevent data being shared?

Not easily.

Facebook is the most obvious platform to discuss because you really need to enter personal data in order to connect with friends and family, but other platforms are constantly gathering data even if you use false identities. Requirements for phone numbers and emails for example will be links to your person, but perhaps less obvious are social media share buttons and widgets that appear on various websites that can also identify you from your previous browsing. Using gmail, outlook, yahoo and other such email providers also gives them access to your email content. It really is difficult to avoid.

Installing dedicated Apps on your mobile may reduce your website social tracking footprint but then typically gives a plethora of permissions to each App in order for it to function properly. This is by design. Want to be able to send pictures? Then you need to give permission to your camera and storage. Want to get a routemap? Then you need to enable your location etc.

So is there anything I can do about it?

Well, other than the obvious reduction of social media, you can try to compartmentalize your activities. If you are disciplined, you can install multiple browsers on your machine and keep the purpose of each browser for that type of activity. You can enable incognito or private browsing mode where possible, but even then some data can be gathered. Your IP address remains the same between websites as does your browser and computer information.

Browser plugins such as ghostery can block tracking scripts on websites and these can also be useful.

You an use a VPN service provider who will hide your true IP address from websites and also allow you to access websites as if you are located in another country.

You could even use a Virtual Machine using software such as VirtualBox which allows you to run one operating system from within another (say Linux from within Windows) as long as your computer has sufficient resources. You can then run browsers within each Virtual Machine as required.

This may seem a lot of effort just to avoid your personal data being scraped but it really is proportional to the amount of effort you are prepared to put in.

See My Browser Information Online Tool to see some of the information your browser is providing.