Give users a true incognito mode - Privacy improvement

Copper Contributor

Edge have the "classic" Incognito mode shipped by Chrome and it basically just allows you to browse without recording your history. While this might be useful, that's not what an Incognito mode should do.


Right now if I visit a website in my browser and then open it in Incognito mode, the website can still identify me by my fingerprint and that's not really what Incognito means (or at least, should mean). A practical way to check it is to go here: Open that website in your browser, then open it in Incognito mode and you'll se the exact same fingerprint. This does not happen in browser like Brave for example (one of the few that implement a correct Incognito mode) and should not happen at all.


Edge already has some nice tools and features that highlight how its developers care about users privacy: it should implement this mode to give users a real useful privacy tool and not just this fake/incomplete Incognito mode.

3 Replies


Incognito mode Stories.

There are different ways to protect your privacy while surfing. To protect the computer and yourself, you can also use the incognito mode (or private browsing) function of the respective browser. If the function is activated, the visited pages are not saved in the history and accepted cookies are deleted. However, as long as you are not using a VPN, the sites you visit will still realize that you are the one who visited them. A professional VPN service (Virtual Private Network), on the other hand, encrypts all data transmission. Appropriate software then channels the sent and received data over another local network. This offers great security, both in e-mail traffic and in online banking. Your data will then be unusable for potential attackers.


There are several stories about incognito mode


Story a) Incognito mode erases my traces from the future and past

In the activated incognito mode, the subsequent surfing is not tracked - so far, so good! However, this does not mean that all previous traces in the browser will disappear. Pages visited before activation remain visible in the history.

Delete the surfing history as well as the previous history - this function is available in the Edge. As a rule, please delete the entire history. As well as the browser history, downloads, form data or the cache with temporarily stored Internet and website files.

Warning: Not all cookies have actually disappeared after being removed via the browser. To remove stubborn Flash cookies, for example, you have to have a lot of knowledge (you would have to go through the settings of the Flash player).


Story b) Proxy servers guarantee privacy

Proxy servers act as a kind of mediator between the private computer and the web server: Your browser sends your data to the proxy server, which may be in another country. This then forwards it to the web server - but with the IP address of the proxy and not yours. This diversion also takes place in the opposite direction. In this way, your digital fingerprint in the form of your IP address does not end up with any website operators. Until then, everything is well and good, but ... Free proxy servers are not very trustworthy - there is no guarantee of successful anonymization. You never know if the data has reached third parties.


Story c) The websites visited do not know anything

However, the incognito mode does not automatically make you anonymous for the websites you visit. With the history deletion, some traces disappear, but the IP address is always traceable. Website operators use these to measure their online reach, for example. This also makes it possible to trace which provider you use and which country you are in, usually your city or a city nearby. Of course, it would also be feasible to use certain applications to determine your exact location - despite incognito mode.


Story d) My boss has no idea

The "secret" surfing mode leads to wrong actions in the workplace. How relaxed the boss is when it comes to your "secret" navigation differs from boss to boss and from company to company. However, if the going gets tough for you and between your bosses, stealth mode won't protect you either.

Usually the router already logs which service computer was active at which time on which pages. An administrator or IT staff can therefore easily determine who he was when and where.


Story e) My internet provider doesn't know anything

Even in your private area, your navigation activities are not entirely secret. Your Internet provider could also determine information about your surfing behavior. As soon as you register online, the provider assigns you an IP address and can thus trace the activities between your device and the Internet.


In the end, whether it is legal or illegal activities - the provider can get surfing data on request from the investigative authorities despite the activated incognito mode.

This is also one of the main reasons why the incognito mode is limited.


Conclusion: In order to surf the Internet anonymously, you should first ensure that the Internet data is redirected via another computer. The rest of the Internet then “thinks” that the other computer is you. The best way to do this is with a VPN connection. Then all of the data is encrypted for additional security.


When navigating the Internet, however, you should always have the principle that “everything you do on the Internet can be used against you”.


I would appreciate your feedback and would like to thank everyone for reading everything so far. Thank you for your time and patience.

I know that I don't know (Socrates)


Hey @NikolinoDE, thanks for taking your time to write this answer, but I don't agree with you.

Even with a VPN or by changing IP address websites can still track you in a different number of ways: the encryption is not a problem here and I'm not addressing that at all so your a, c, d and e point are not exactly the answer to what I'm asking.

This is just an improvement to the actual flawled implementation of the Incognito mode: if I visit the same website Incognito or not right now makes little to no difference privacy wise. And - at least IMO - it should not be like that: Incognito mode should fulfill its purpose to give the users a "clean" session that does not have the same fingerprint as the main user. And not because people should/would use it for something illegal or to trick their bosses (they'd be fool to think this would help them), but because a true Incognito mode should give users some kind of "clean space" totally separated by the main profile.


It's pretty obvious to whoever knows a little bit about this topic that this feature is not a solution made to be anonymous on the web or to be un-trackable: there's other tool, other browsers and other ways to accomplish such things and I agree this is not the purpose for Edge.


Anyway, thanks for the answer: I appreciated you took the time to answer me.


Hello, thank you for taking the time to read my comment, I am honored.


At the same time, I wanted to address a few things that you noted in your comment.

The VPN can be penetrated / cracked / decrypted is clear to everyone, but this is about the effort (money and work), as in most IT cases.


The fact that the other points do not fit exactly or not completely is also caused by the viewer's angle. It is not out of hand that incognito mode has a very bad reputation in society. It is referred to as spy mode, porn mode, hacker mode, etc. by some on the Internet. It also upsets people who have no idea about the Internet.


It is not from nowhere that the EU GDPR (European General Data Protection Regulation) is a bit broad in terms of interpretation with the incognito mode and the investigative authorities. The deletion of cookies, the use of the incognito / private mode of your browser, or the use of another browser leads to data being collected again, due to EU GDPR (Art 6 EU GDPR Paragraph 1 lit a (consent) and / or f -justified interest- of the GDPR). Basically, it is also not quite clear from a legal point of view, what, who, when is allowed.


There are so many active participants in the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework so that the correct and secure data transfer of personal data is regulated, which one has entered that lobbyists want to trip up each other. That is only a small part of the legal perspective. Not that I am misunderstood, lobbyism is not bad per view, on the contrary, in some cases, a blessing. But the relationship has to be right.


 Since it does not have the best reputation in the various societies around the world, I am not surprised that the incognito mode only currently exists because some IT-knowing people have the need to be able to see it.

In my opinion it will continue to drift apart from Nader and widen the gap between society, lobbyism and incognito advocates so that the incognito mode, if it is not painted differently, will disappear from all common navigation programs. For the very simple reason, "so few, use it".


To put it briefly, I am going to riot again, my request would be to change the incognito mode!


It should be a simple visual mode.

You should be able to navigate, but only be able to see and only where the website operator wants it. A kind of “see mode”, maybe also as “watch mode” or WYSYCT “What you see you cannot touch”. No matter how you baptize the child, it should be totally private but with restrictions as the website operator would like and at the same time no significant movements should take place, such as bank account, pages where a password is required, so also what is important for the investigative authorities.


So much could be done or incorporated in this direction, I could write a book about additional possibilities with the dubbed “watch mode”, it would be a win-win situation for everyone (Internet site operators could earn money, users would be more secure , Internet navigation programs could ... .psssttt ... that's enough in advance, the rest only with Microsoft if they are interested..hahaha.


I think that such a realization in the legal and in the technical area will be very positively accepted by most.


Maybe this one idea would be for Microsoft to be a bit further ahead with Edge than the others.


However, your reflection on this topic gave me the starting point and I would like to thank you for that.


I wish you and everyone else with readers a nice weekend.


If reading this up to now has not been of interest to you, I would like to apologize for the time I have taken.




I know that I don't know (Socrates)