September 16, 2013, 6:52 PM — Want a more private way to surf the Web? I have an Epic solution for you.
Epic is the name of a newish browser that claims to protect your privacy in ways that IE, Firefox, and Chrome can only dream of. (Note: This Epic is no relation to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of the oldest privacy advocacy groups still standing.)
Epic is really just a variation of Google Chrome with all the privacy tools cranked up to 11. Here’s a comparison of the drop down menus in each.
The difference? With Epic, you are always in incognito mode. There’s no Web history for anyone to see where you’ve been. There’s no search history. And you can’t use any Chrome plug ins.
Epic also blocks third-party cookies and Web trackers be default, giving you a running total as you go – thus fulfilling the role of plugins like DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery, and Disconnect. Want to mask your IP address? Click the icon in the address bar to use a proxy – simpler and easier than surfing through the Tor network or using the NinjaStik. (Though for me, at least, it seems to use the same Spotflux proxy server in Absecon, New Jersey, over and over – your mileage may vary).
If a Web site simply isn’t working, a click on the Umbrella icon next to the address bar allows you to customize the settings, though they can’t be applied to just one site.
These are all good things. So what’s not to like?
Web sites that are used to seeking out cookies to identify you are going to make you work a little harder to log in. LinkedIn insisted on showing me a CAPTCHA. Logging in to Disqus required me to allow third party cookies for all sites -- obliterating a major privacy benefit. Using Chrome, Google automatically translates pages written in another language. Epic doesn’t.
Epic also claims to be faster than Chrome (because there are no extensions to load) but that wasn’t my experience. I found it slightly slower, significantly so when surfing in proxy mode.
Then, of course, there’s what I like to call the Snowden Question. Given the claims that some tech companies have been forced to insert secret back doors into their technology by Spooks Inc. – and the ones who’ve chosen to go belly up instead of complying -- can we trust any high tech companies any more?
Is Epic secretly in cahoots with the NSA but bound by some draconian non-disclosure agreement? Or, worse, is Epic an NSA project, designed to lure unsuspecting netizens into a honey trap?
This used to be known as paranoia. Now it’s just business as usual.
Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he'll make something up). Follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to's, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.
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