Internet browsers are the first step to accessing the internet. They are also the first step to both increasing your online privacy and controlling your personal information. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari all provide in-browser privacy settings for users. These options include private browsing, controlling activity logs, deleting cookies, and others.
For survivors of abuse and stalking, using these privacy options may increase their privacy and safety, particularly if they are concerned that an abusive person is physically monitoring their device activity. They can also help survivors have more control over how their personal information is collected and stored when they are online. However, browser privacy options are not going to protect from remote spying or monitoring if an abusive person is using spyware software.
Options that can enhance a user’s privacy in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari can be found under "settings". Some of the options include the following.
Private browsing allows users to surf the internet without the browser collecting history. This is helpful if a survivor is concerned that someone may be monitoring their internet activity by going through the browser history. However, private browsing will not prevent someone from knowing what you’re doing online if they are looking over your shoulder or are monitoring your device with spyware.
Do not track is a setting that allows users to opt-out of third-party tracking, such as advertisers or sites on a website that you’re visiting. This feature is only for third-party tracking, which often tracks users for behavioral advertising purposes; it doesn’t prevent the website that you’re visiting to collect information about you.
Keep in mind that if someone is monitoring your computer use, deleting your browser history may appear suspicious. However, regularly deleting your browsing history can increase privacy and simply be a permanent part of your internet settings.