Add to that Google’s open-source Chromium project with powers Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, and Microsoft’s new Edge browser, and you’ve got the browser world covered. They all have a few things in common.
A browser is a browser. They all render website pages with ease. They all have tabs. They all are fast. They all allow different default search engines. They all are free. What’s not to like?
Most browsers can be configured to stop or block advertising and ad trackers; even cookies, if you prefer. The problem is that word configure. That’s what most browser users do not dink with so they continue to be harvested of private information thanks to ads and trackers.
This week I read a headline which stated what I did not fully understand or appreciate:
Opera jumps on tracking blocker bandwagon
Opera is still alive? The browser that started life long before the name-brand browsers was sold to a company in China and now it lives again, this time with built-in tracker blockers. You know, just like Brave, Vivaldi, Firefox, et al.
Opera comes with a large set of privacy-enhancing features, including an ad blocker and the new tracker blocker. Our browser was the first and is still the only major one to offer a built-in, free and unlimited no-log VPN.
The latest version gets a tracker blocker, too. Advertising and trackers are not the same things. Opera decided to put a toggle switch above the tabs to toggle on or off the built-in tracker blocker function.
Like everything else that deals with privacy and security, the toggle is stuck in the browser’s settings and not likely to be found by the average Opera user. Just like Safari, Brave, Vivaldi, Firefox, and, well, you get the idea.
Along with Opera’s built-in ad blocker, the tracker blocker will speed up your browsing while also increasing your level of privacy. Once switched on, these two features can be disabled for individual websites, for example, when a publisher requires that you do so in order to access their content.
That part I like, but Opera does not make it easy.
Why not? What the hell is wrong with an ad blocker on/off switch? Or, one for trackers, too? Or, a simple button to delete browser history? How hard can that be?
Hard. I guess.
Whenever you use the web, you leave traces, and websites tend to follow your every click. To get information about your browsing habits, many of them add invisible elements, record some data or use your user account information.
All of the websites in The Villagers list decided a few years ago to ban trackers of any kind. Even cookies. That means our website pages load fast into whatever browser you use, and you won’t be tracked while visiting these sites.
If you switch on the tracker blocker in the Easy setup menu, the content shouldn’t follow you around anymore and you’ll become less visible to third parties.
Then make it an easy-to-find switch right in the Opera toolbar.
What happens when you visit a website where ads and trackers are blocked? The websites load very fast. Compare Mac360 and other Villagers websites. We’re fast. And, you’re not being harvest for information the way Google and Facebook do to their users.
Opera, Firefox, Brave, Vivaldi and other browsers are moving in the right direction, but hiding such useful controls does not help their narrative of being user friendly, and privacy advocates.