Best web browser
Last updated: June 16, 2021
Here’s our favorite browser: the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, available for iPhones and iPads. (This browser works on mobile devices only, not laptops or desktops.)
Why: This browser is made by DuckDuckGo, the team behind the search engine that doesn’t track you, so it has the same commitment to user privacy.
Business model: Ads with no tracking.
• iOS app: DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for iPhone/iPad
• Android app: DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android devices (though we suggest avoiding Android if possible)
Whatever you do, don’t use Google Chrome. Wired wrote It’s time to ditch Chrome (June 6, 2021): “As well as collecting your data, Chrome also gives Google a huge amount of control over how the web works.” Forbes wrote “hasn’t even attempted to protect its users’ privacy” (source: Zak Doffman, March 21, 2021). And the Washington Post said Chrome “looks a lot like surveillance software” (source: Geoffrey Fowler, June 21, 2019). See also No to Chrome, by James Mullarkey.
We also recommend against using Mozilla Firefox, which is largely funded by Google:
• “Mozilla only exists because Google pays them roughly half a billion dollars every year to be the default search engine in their browser” (from Cleanuptheweb.org, linking to Aral Balkan, Jan 11, 2019).
• “Google pays Mozilla for it to be the default search engine on Firefox, and the money accounts for the vast majority of Mozilla’s revenue” (Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov 24, 2020).
• See also the DigDeeper review of Mozilla.
• Ungoogled Chromium, a special version of the Chrome browser with, it’s claimed, all of the Google hooks removed. You need some technical competence to install this. See this Register article (June 9, 2020) with more info.
• Vivaldi, a browser that claims not to track users, built largely by the team that built past versions of the Opera browser. Vivaldi was reviewed positively by Ars Technica and has an active user forum. However, DigDeeper reports that Vivaldi still contains hooks to Google spyware and is closed-source.
• Brave, which claims to be privacy-focused but still seems strange due to its use of the Basic Attention Token - monetizing attention with a cryptocurrency. Jonathan Sampson, Senior Developer Relations at Brave, responds to us that BAT “is an optional (opt-in) way for web users to passively (and anonymously) support websites . . . When a user opts-in to ‘Rewards’, their browser is able to display ad notifications without sending any data off-device.” Between this and unixsheik’s recommendation against Brave, make your own decision.
As mentioned above, our favorite browser, the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, works on mobile devices only, not laptops or desktops. Here are two other mobile-only options:
• For Android, Bromite, much like Ungoogled Chromium above, removes Google surveillance from Chromium. Bromite runs only on Android (though we recommend against using Android devices).
Other browser reviews
• Choose your browser carefully (Oct 2020), by the anonymous “unixsheikh”, advises against Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Brave. Recommended options include “tweaking Firefox” (which requires some tech knowledge) and Falkon.
• DigDeeper concludes that “Firefox is absolutely terrible” as it is “dependent on the evil Mozilla,” while Chrome is “a massive platform dedicated entirely to data collection.” DigDeeper recommends PaleMoon as a “decent” option, though it’s only available for Windows and Linux - not OSX or mobile devices.
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