The Scoop: When people search on the internet, even for sensitive topics related to sexual health or dating, their activity is often tracked and sold to advertisers. On many popular websites, users can expect several dozen trackers to record their every move, and they can’t just use Incognito mode or a virtual private network (VPN) to sidestep it. The Epic Privacy Browser was developed to allow people to completely protect their information and eliminate tracking while they’re online. Not only does Epic keep web history confidential and block third parties from obtaining data, but it can also speed up browsing time significantly.
When singles decide to search the internet for dating prospects, they typically enter plenty of information into their browsers, including name, age, location, and many other personal details. They may even type highly sensitive terms relating to their own romantic or health situations into a search bar.
That information often finds its way to third-party companies that develop consumer profiles to serve users targeted ads. The practice is common across the internet, and many singles have come to expect it in exchange for access to an extensive world of potential partners.
But that tracking also makes many people uncomfortable. That’s why Alok Bhardwaj, the Founder of the Epic Privacy Browser, created a solution that can stop more than 600 tracking attempts in one browsing session.
“With Epic, you can feel more comfortable browsing or searching for anything you want without your internet service provider (ISP) tracking and selling that data,” he said.
Many internet users think that opening a window in Incognito mode is as effective as having a dedicated privacy browser. But, even in Incognito mode, search history is stored on the computer, meaning that the government, an employer, or an ISP can still access it.
“Incognito mode provides almost zero protection,” Alok said.
Epic also operates more quickly than standard browsers, including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Because Epic completely blocks many ads and tracking scripts, it can produce up to a 25% increase in browsing speed.
Privacy Concerns Abound for Those on the Internet
It may come as no surprise that companies are interested in user browsing data. Because browsing history can be an accurate predictor of future actions, that information can help companies make decisions about when and where to advertise.
Users experience tracking on 83% of the top 500 most visited websites, with an average of nine trackers and 33 tracking requests per page.
That type of tracking is also prevalent with ISPs, as they often sell information to third-party websites. The types of data that a platform or ISP may track and sell often include names, ethnicities, heights, and even romantic preferences.
If that data tracking and selling seem more pervasive than users remember, they’re also right. The current level of data tracking wasn’t always legal. But in 2017, that changed, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were allowed to sell user browsing history to third-party companies — and they don’t have to tell them about it.
Before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowed those changes, ISPs had to ask before selling a user’s location, browsing history, or any other personal information to advertisers. That permission is no longer necessary. Social media channels have never been subject to those regulations — because they aren’t ISPs.
“You’re being tracked by search engines, your internet service provider, your government, and more than 100 data collectors. If you go to CNN.com, for instance, there will be 30 companies tracking and collecting your data. It’s insane how much tracking is out there,” said Alok.
Browser Extension Blocks Ads, Tracking & Other Activities
The primary goal of the Epic Privacy Browser is to ensure browsing history is private. Companies often track internet users through cookies, IP addresses, and HTML 5 storage. Epic blocks those monitoring methods, which, in turn, can speed up the browsing experience since add-ons aren’t continually loading.
Epic clears search ads from the browsing experience.
“Way too many sites have too many ads. And those ads and videos that are automatically playing use up a ton of bandwidth,” said Alok.
Users may think that a virtual private network (VPN) protects them from data tracking, but that’s not the case. Whether they’re using a VPN or browser add-ons to protect data, Epic suggests that trackers can still gain access to some of that data.
“Epic blocks fingerprinting scripts and functions like image canvas data access to protect you — which no browser extension can do,” according to a post on the Epic website.
The platform keeps location data private, so that users can access region-specific websites around the world.
Additionally, the browser allows users to download audio and video files — as well as articles — that they can access offline. Epic uses Android’s text-to-speak feature, so users can save and listen to articles when they’re on the go.
“We were the first to build an audio queue feature for your mobile browser. It’s useful now to listen to articles,” Alok said.
Epic is on a Mission to Give People Peace of Mind Online
Though Epic Privacy Browser performs many premium functions, Alok and his team said they want to ensure that it’s still accessible. That’s why they offer the browser to users for a monthly cost between $2 and $3.
“We want to keep the cost as low as possible because we think everyone should be able to browse the internet privately,” Alok said.
Today, Epic has more than 200,000 daily users, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We’re honest and transparent with our users, and we’ve only gotten positive feedback. They tell their friends who then ask, ‘Where do I sign up?’” Alok said.
Alok wants to continue expanding Epic’s reach and said that making it accessible to as many people as possible was an ethical goal.
“Being aware of privacy is like becoming health-conscious; you always start reading labels. It’s the same with privacy. If you know that trackers are looking at everything you type, you start to censor yourself,” he notes.
Alok suggests that users who are interested in learning more give the free version of the browser a try. Then, they can see how it improves their internet browsing experience — and enhances their internet searches.
“You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. It’s the same experience as leading browsers, but it’s faster and more pleasant,” Alok said.