Cookies make the web a little easier. If you’ve previously visited a site, it can make the return visit a little smoother. But some of those cookies can be more invasive than we’d like. According to a recent Washington Post article, just one week of desktop surfing generated more than 11,000 requests for tracker cookies.
Chrome usually allows those cookies by default. And as you visit more and more sites, Google gets a clearer picture of what kind of person you are. That information can be used to target you with eerily specific ads.
The Post article also points out that if you have an Android phone, Chrome sends Google your location every time you search. Every time? Yes. Chrome is essentially a cyberstalker.
What you can do to protect your privacy
In the short term, you can simply turn off some of the cookie options in Chrome.
But Google can be even sneakier about how they collect data. Even if you don’t use Chrome, your Gmail and Google Maps history helps them know just who you are. There are some free blockchain versions of those popular Google tools that will keep your information more secure:
- Graphite Docs is a decentralized Google Docs alternative
- DTube is a decentralized YouTube alternative
- Textile Photos is a blockchain-based Google Photos alternative
You can also shield yourself by switching to a browser that has a greater focus on privacy, like Firefox or Brave. Those browsers aren’t in the business of selling your data, so you won’t have to worry about invasive trackers.
Another important step would be to change your default search engine to something like DuckDuckGo.
We should also note that there are some good reasons why you may not want to disable cookies. The problem is sorting the good from the bad. Chrome doesn’t appear to have your best interests at heart in all cases.
Of course, it’s easy to trust the internet’s 800-pound gorilla to give you a reliably good experience. But as Google becomes more aggressive about selling your data and disabling your ad-blockers, it’s time to seriously consider some alternatives.