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Bjoern Greif March 19, 2018

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Many people mistakenly think that they browse anonymously in incognito mode. In fact, the private browsing mode alone does not prevent websites from gathering information about you and your online activities. We explain what it really does and what it does not.

Whether it’s called “Incognito Mode”, “Private Browsing” or “InPrivate Browsing” – all modern browsers feature a private mode. Due to the naming, however, many users expect more from it than it actually does.

The private mode does not ensure that you are completely anonymous on the web. It does not hide your identity from the rest of the world, but only your online activities from other people using your device. Website operators, your Internet service provider (ISP) or your employer can still track which pages you have visited or what information you have submitted.

It’s like closing the door in a shared apartment but leaving the window open. Your flat mates will no longer be able to see what you are doing behind your locked door, but everyone who is looking through your window from the outside will be able to see you. This has nothing to do with real privacy.


What happens in private mode?

To make browsing easier for you, modern browsers usually remember which websites you have visited and store cookies, passwords or form data. This way, you can quickly reaccess pages that you have visited before and you don’t have to re-enter your data each time you visit a login page, for example.

When you enable private mode, the browser does not store such information locally on your device. Visited sites no longer appear in the browsing history and cookies, form or cache data will be stored only until the end of your browser session. However, this only prevents other users of your device from seeing the pages you visited by looking at your browsing history.

Basically, the private mode feature is useful if you share a device with someone and want to hide your browsing activities from them. For example, you can search online for a gift for your sweetheart without having to worry about him or her stumbling across it in your browsing history.

Ghostery protects your privacy online

Private mode alone does not provide any protection online. It does not prevent websites from gathering information about you and your online activities.

The Ghostery Browser Extension protects your personal data with anti-tracking and ad-blocking protection in both standard and private browsing modes. It’s the first tool ever to combine blocklist and AI-powered anti-tracking technologies.

Get privacy protection with Ghostery today.


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