I got fed up with being tracked by Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox — and their associated search engines Bing, and Google — and then being solicited by the vendors who acquired my data from those browsers and search engines.
So, about 3 years ago, I downloaded the Epic Privacy Browser, and now my primary browser is Epic, and my primary search engine is Epic Search.
The Epic Privacy Browser screens out pop-up ads, and blocks trackers. Example: About 30 minutes after opening my browser today, Epic reported that it had already blocked 35 trackers.
On my computer, I still have my previous “spy-browsers” — IE (I guess now they call it Microsoft Edge), Google, and Firefox. But, I use them only when necessary.
Epic is merciless when it comes to filtering, and sites whose ads are being blocked know it. Some of them fight back by blocking my access to their sites, unless I exclude them from Epic’s ad-blocker. Instead of doing that, I usually just switch (temporarily) to Firefox, if I want to continue on one of those sites.
For years, I was able to access everything, except the ads, on Finance Magnates (a site that I visit frequently). But, just recently, the images accompanying the Finance Magnates (FM) articles have all been blacked out on the Epic browser, but not on any other browser. I’m guessing that this is being done by FM to fight back against blockers like Epic.
In most cases I can do without the images accompanying the FM articles. But, as always, the last resort in this case is simply to open Firefox temporarily, in order to see what FM was blocking.
I can browse the Babypips site all day without seeing ads. But Epic and/or Trading View blocks the charts on the Babypips Rates page. So, when I go to Rates, I can access the page of live prices, but when I click on a particular instrument (Bitcoin/USD, for instance), I get a Trading View chart without candles. So, I have to switch to one of the spy-browsers (I generally default to Firefox), open Babypips > Rates, and then click BTCUSD to get the chart I want.
And I’m well aware that while I’m on Firefox, I’m being tracked.
If you’re obsessed with privacy, as I am, you can feel secure surfing the web on the Epic browser. Proof of the effectiveness of Epic’s tracker-blocking is when you shop online for cars (or whatever) — shopping that normally would subject you to a blizzard of follow-up advertising from trackers who have access to your searches. Not only will you never be solicited on your Epic browser by sellers of cars (or whatever you were searching), but you won’t be solicited on any of your other browsers either, because none of those would-be trackers had access to your searches.
And there are even more sensitive issues than online shopping.
Suppose you want to investigate bomb-making materials, not because you intend to build a bomb, but just because you are curious. Or suppose you want to learn more about bi-polar disorder, or how to fight an IRS audit, or any number of other topics of interest.
What you absolutely don’t want is for some tracker (you will never even know is lurking in the background) to develop a “profile” of you as “a mentally unstable person, who has a beef with the IRS, and is planning to build a bomb”.
Epic can limit access to your private life by most trackers. And it can limit the traces left behind in your computer after you have completed your searches, closed your browser, and shut everything down.
However, it’s doubtful that Epic, or any other blocking technology available for free to the general public, can stop the data-gathering of the National Security Agency (NSA). It’s not for nothing that the NSA has 14 acres of computer servers buried underground at Fort Meade, Maryland, and a data center many times larger than that, somewhere in Utah.
In my view, the only sensible thing is to assume that every phone-call (cell-phone, or land-line), every email, every computer search, and indeed every bit of internet traffic is swept up by the NSA. It may not be immediately flagged for review by an analyst, but it exists (forever) in an archive that can be searched. And those data can be retrieved, if the government ever gets interested in developing a profile of you.
For now, in my opinion, the only modes of communication safe from the routine scrutiny of the NSA are snail-mail, and face-to-face conversations in secure locations.
Maybe I’m paranoid. But, even paranoid people can have real enemies.