Which Is the Best Browser for Privacy in 2020

More than 60% of people use Chrome as their browser. But is this the most private to access the internet? Seeing how most of your interactions with the internet happen via the browser, it would be smart to choose the one that provides the best privacy and security. So what is the best browser for privacy in 2020?

For our evaluation, we used metrics proposed by Surfshark’s Information Security Team. 

Is the developer a non-profit? Non-profits don’t have a profit motive driving them, so they have less incentive to squeeze money out of users by collecting and selling their data or doing anything similar. 

Does the browser warn you about website add-ons? Website add-ons can be both malicious and suspicious – and you want a browser that can catch them before they do damage. 

Can you disable loading scripts? Choosing to disable loading scripts can break some websites, but it also makes you more secure against attacks. 

Does it block fingerprinting? If you want the website to display correctly, your browser has to send some data to it, like your screen resolution, OS, and location. This becomes your digital fingerprint used to track you online. 

Does it block malware/phishing? A good privacy browser will draw on lists of known malware and phishing addresses to automatically block them. 

Is it open source? Open source allows security experts and other nerds to look into the browser’s code and see if the developer had baked in any malicious functions – or left severe security gaps. 

Does it scan downloads? Even the files you download voluntarily could be dangerous. 

Does it have integrated adblock w/tracking prevention? You can install extensions and add-ons to block ads and prevent tracking, but it’s safer and more convenient if the browser does it natively. 

Can you toggle cleaning history and cookies after every session? While cleaning history and cookies after a session is an excellent way to keep tracking at bay and maintain privacy, not everyone might want that by default. 

Choose the best browser for privacy

brave browser

1. Brave

  • Is the developer a non-profit? No
  • Does the browser warn you about website add-ons? Yes
  • Can you disable loading scripts? Yes
  • Does it block fingerprinting? Yes
  • Does it block malware/phishing? Yes
  • Is it open source? Yes 
  • Does it scan downloads? No
  • Does it have integrated adblock w/tracking prevention? Yes
  • Can you toggle cleaning history and cookies after every session? Yes

Brave was launched in 2016 by some of the key people that had previously worked on Mozilla Firefox. Its standout feature is the Brave Rewards System that gives users Basic Attention Tokens (BATs) for viewing “privacy-respecting” ads and then tips those tokens to websites and creators, who can turn them into money. 

However, Brave has been involved in two scandals. The first one was about Brave pocketing donations of BATs to creators that hadn’t opted-in to their program, which was eventually fixed. The second issue arose when people noticed Brave adding affiliate links to cryptocurrency URLs that users entered. Brave claimed this happened due to a bug in the autocomplete function and has since fixed it.

Recommended: if the controversies don’t scare you, yes.

firefox browser

2. Mozilla Firefox

  • Is the developer a non-profit? Yes
  • Does the browser warn you about website add-ons? Yes
  • Can you disable loading scripts? Yes
  • Does it block fingerprinting? Yes
  • Does it block malware/phishing? Yes
  • Is it open source? Yes 
  • Does it scan downloads?  Yes
  • Does it have integrated adblock w/tracking prevention? No
  • Can you toggle cleaning history and cookies after every session? Yes

Mozilla Firefox launched 18 years and has always been among the top choices when it comes to browsers. Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that owns the Mozilla Corporation, a subsidiary which develops the browser. Funding is mostly received via contracts with corporations like Google for the default browser search engine position. 

Mozilla doesn’t block ads by default, but it has many extensions that do – even the official website tells you so. However, the 2020 layoffs in the Corporation imperilled the future of the browser. 

Recommended: if you’re feeling optimistic about the future, yes.

tor browser

3. Tor Browser

  • Is the developer a non-profit? Yes
  • Does the browser warn you about website add-ons? Yes
  • Can you disable loading scripts? Yes
  • Does it block fingerprinting? Yes
  • Does it block malware/phishing? No
  • Is it open source? Yes 
  • Does it scan downloads? No
  • Does it have integrated adblock w/tracking prevention? Yes
  • Can you toggle cleaning history and cookies after every session? Yes

The Tor Browser was announced in 2008, and it’s the main method of using the Tor network for increased security and anonymity. It’s based on a customized Firefox base, and while it supports installing extensions, users are advised not to. This would compromise the browser’s security, and Tor Browser aims at keeping the user secure and private at all costs.

The big downside of Tor Browser is that the Tor Network is very slow. It’s not great for media consumption, and the developers are asking people not to use torrents with Tor. At the same time, the Tor network is based on anonymous volunteer nodes, and it has been discovered that 23% of Tor exit nodes are owned by a single user who uses it to steal cryptocurrency.

Recommended: if you don’t care about the exit node issue and privacy matters literally more than anything else, yes. 

duckduckgo browser

4. DuckDuckGo

  • Is the developer a non-profit? No
  • Does the browser warn you about website add-ons? No
  • Can you disable loading scripts? No
  • Does it block fingerprinting? Yes
  • Does it block malware/phishing? No
  • Is it open source? Yes 
  • Does it scan downloads? No
  • Does it have integrated adblock w/tracking prevention? Yes
  • Can you toggle cleaning history and cookies after every session? Yes

DuckDuckGo was launched in 2008. Unfortunately, it’s not a non-profit organization, and the HQ is situated in the US. However, the search engine that’s now available as a browser add-on for desktops, as well as standalone mobile browsers, has a lot to offer. For example, each website gets a rating on its privacy (including policies), and you can easily see what trackers were blocked. 

How does DuckDuckGo earn money? From their advertising affiliates. The creators claim that the ads shown to you when searching for stuff online will be tailored to that search only. So there are no persistent tracking ads. The browser also allows you to purge history and cookies at any moment.

Recommended: if you care about privacy more than security on your phone, then yes.

But why can’t I use Chrome/Edge/Safari?

Many of the popular browsers are good browsers when it comes to usability. They have features that provide a lot of ease of life – but you also have privacy tradeoffs. Your data is worth a lot of money, and their developers aren’t non-profits. Therefore, your regular browsers may have difficulty keeping up when it comes to privacy – if they’re interested in that at all. 

Here are the issues with the most prominent named browsers:

chrome browser

Google Chrome 

Google Chrome has file download scanning, malware blacklists, and so on. In exchange, you are being wrung for information by Google, especially if you have logged into Chrome. And that’s the price you’re paying to use the browser. If you’re OK with that, you’ll be glad to learn that Google keeps updating the browser with features that will make it harder for non-Google-affiliated entities to track you. 

safari browser

Safari

It’s one of the big choices available to Apple users… and nobody else. Safari is actually not that bad – it even ditched the faulty Do Not Track technology when it turned out that it doesn’t work and even enables other tracking types. But while Safari joins the ranks of browsers that tell you that you’re being tracked, it is still not an open-source project, and it belongs to one of the biggest tech companies in the world… which was compromised by the NSA. Then again, it’s possible that Apple collects very little, so it all depends on your personal choice.

edge browser

Edge

Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer uses Chromium, so it’s at least based on open-source tech. And that’s where the upsides end. Scientists have evaluated Edge to be among the least privacy-respecting mainline browsers. More than that, Microsoft is using techniques that have been called “malware-like” to push Edge on their users. That’s not a great look for a browser that was plagued with privacy issues basically from the word “go.”

opera browser

Opera

Opera offers quite a few features – even Mozilla’s own comparison shows that Opera only lags behind by not having social tracking blockers. However, Opera isn’t open-source (even if it’s based on Chromium), isn’t operated by a non-profit, and was recently purchased by a Chinese tech giant. That’s one country with more issues with respecting online privacy than even the US. Oh, and the free Opera VPN it comes bundled with? Basically, a proxy that also collects your data.

Privacy beyond browsers 

It turns out that it’s not that easy to find the best browser for privacy. And even then, are you really secure on the net? You can always enhance your privacy even further – by getting a VPN and securing all the data that leaves your device. Surfshark VPN is just the thing – and it will work on any platform your privacy browser can support. It even has browser extensions that work with Brave, Firefox, and Chrome!

Get VPN for privacy outside of browsers!

Get Surfshark