Lately I’ve discovered that several people are using the Chrome feature Incognito when browsing the web. Incognito is a browsing window that can be opened in Chrome that allows some privacy by not keeping certain files while the web is searched. Edge and Firefox offer a similar private browsing feature. A common assumption is that one is searching in a truly private manner and thereby preventing visited websites from tracking. However, that is not the case. Incognito or private browsing does not keep visited websites from tracking. What it does keep private are some of the files that are typically stored on a specific computer or device during browsing. Examples of files that are not kept often include the search history and temporary internet files, along with some others depending on which browser is used to access the internet.
So, what information is private and from whom? Usually the only thing not being collected and stored is the evidence on the specific device being used that a site has been visited. Meaning that possibly a search history would not be kept on that device. So, if someone is looking for a gift for another person online they may want to search using incognito if other people have access to the device and could see visited website by going through the history. Using incognito would prevent others from seeing that history. However, the fact that the site was visited will not escape the attention of the site that was visited if they are set up to collect information about their users. In essence the only one being kept from seeing some types of information are the persons using that specific device. Everything else is pretty much fair game as usual.
For specifics of how the different browsers operate and information on what they are helping keep private, visit the link to their Help section below.
Chrome help: Provides instructions on how to open an incognito window in Chrome.
Mozilla help: Provides instructions on how to open an incognito window in Mozilla.
Edge help: Provides instructions on how to open an incognito window in Edge.