Berlin (dpa) – Sometimes, a name promises a whole lot more than it can deliver.
That seems to be the case with a new range of browser functions that purportedly allow users to go online incognito, evading tracking by businesses and governments.
What the incognito modes of Firefox and Chrome provide is the ability to surf without one’s own computer memory storing certain data, according to expert blog 9to5google.com.
That includes things like specific searches, downloaded data or a history of websites visited.
Cookies and temporary Internet data are also not stored.
What the mode does not do is hide one’s surfing activity if Internet service providers or secret services take an interest in you. Nor does it shield a user from advertisers.
A lot of the confusion derives from an interview Google boss Eric Schmidt gave during an event at the Cato Institute think tank in Washington, DC.
The video can be found at www.c-span.org.
In it, Schmidt advises Internet users worried about US authorities watching their online moves to turn on Google’s incognito function.
But all this will really do is stop others who might use the same computer from seeing what an individual did online, which is exactly what both Firefox and Chrome explain when the option is activated.
It’s very difficult to completely insulate one’s online time from observation.
Using the Tor network provides some protection, since data is carried encrypted through multiple servers, making it nearly impossible to track the data back to its source.
However, Tor has come under regular attack of late.
At least there is hope for protection from ads just by upgrading one’s browser with extensions like Privacy Badger from the US-based digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Other options include Disconnect, DoNot-TrackMe and Blur.