VPN company Mullvad is teaming up with the Tor Project to launch a new browser, called the Mullvad browser.
The goal and big selling point of the new software service is to help reduce a user's online “fingerprint” as much as possible — in other words, to keep third-party services from collecting user data and tracking users across the internet with it.
Any new product with a focus on data security is welcome in 2023, when network breaches are more common than a case of the flu.
What Makes the Mullvad Browser More Private?
Here's how the Tor Project explains the browser's privacy settings:
“By default, Mullvad browser has private mode enabled, blocks third-party trackers and cookies, and makes it easy to delete cookies between visiting pages during the same session.”
On most mainstream browsers, tiny details about your online presence can be collection — stuff like your computer's time zone, operating system, and browser version — and these details can allow companies to track your online activity across multiple websites. They can build a profile on you which can then be sold to advertisers.
The Mullvad browser also combats this practice, using a “hide-in-the-crowd” approach that makes each user's fingerprint look the same as everyone else's.
Here's the Tor Project again to explain:
“The browser's ‘out-of-the-box' configurations and settings will mask many parameters and features commonly used to extract information from a person's device that can make them identifiable, including fonts, rendered content, and several hardware APIs.”
Is Data Privacy Taking Off in 2023?
Hoovering up huge amounts of data with little to no justification has been the internet's business model ever since Facebook first rose to power around the mid-2000s. But starting in 2018, when that social platform's Cambridge Analytica scandal was disclosed, public opinion began to sour on social media and its data collection practices.
Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks social media is an unmitigated success, when while many of us rely on it to stay in touch with everyone we know. Between TikTok regulations and every Twitter news headline these days, it's not clear that even the biggest social networks remain too big to fail.
In this mileu, it makes sense that many people might second-guess their social media use. And browsers are just as big a concern as social platforms. If you keep using Chrome, your data is still being used to deliver you ads.
If anyone wants to trim down on any data collected, privacy-centric browsers like Mullvad's new solution are one great way to start. A quality paid VPN is another great way to stay private, too.