These browsers are the absolute worst when it comes to maintaining any level of privacy.
It’s really important to understand that the entire Google product ecosystem is designed to collect as much information on you as possible.
Why? Google profits off collecting your information, compiling it into user profiles, and then selling ads that target you and your interests as accurately as possible.
And guess what? Most of Google’s revenue comes from advertising.
Chrome is a Google product. Therefore, Chrome is a piece of that super data-collection ecosystem.
So, what data will Chrome collect about you?
The short answer is a lot.
Much of this data gets stored on Google’s servers even if you don’t sign into your Google Account.
If you sign into your Google account on Chrome, then it’s for sure that your data is being sent to Google’s servers (for “syncing”).
This data is stored for long periods of time and combined with whatever other data (search history, website clicks, emails received/sent, etc.) Google has on you.
While some of the settings within Chrome can be tweaked to be more privacy friendly, doing so is often unnecessarily difficult and/or requires the help of an extension.
For example, disabling WebRTC – which can leak your true IP address to every website you visit even when you use a VPN – is impossible in Chrome.
It’s just like fighting an uphill battle.
Microsoft is another serial harvester of user data and personal identifiable information.
Like Google, Microsoft runs the Bing-Yahoo search engine and has a considerable stake in the online advertising market share.
However, as you already know, Microsoft is also behind the Office-family of products, Windows, and Xbox.
The biggest privacy issues with Microsoft typically come from their back-end data exchange processes, or simply telemetry.
Telemetry: the process of recording and (automatically) transmitting the readings of a measurements (to receiving-end equipment)
Put very simply: Edge phones home (to Microsoft) about your device and your browsing habits. A lot.
Since Edge sends identifiers that are heavily linked to your device’s hardware, even when you’re not signed in, this information is collected and stored by Microsoft.
Just like with Chrome, Edge does not make it easy to tweak the privacy settings in your favor.
Additionally, much of the data that Edge sends to Microsoft either cannot be directly disabled, or it’s unnecessarily difficult to change the defaults.
Ultimately, what this means is that Microsoft knows that it's you using Edge.
They know it's your device running Edge and can still collect all sorts of information about your usage habits. Again, this information can include but is not limited to:
As you can see from this overview, Microsoft Edge is a nightmare for privacy.
This is where the concept of a privacy browser - a browser that respects your privacy - steps in.
There are multiple benefits for ditching Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or any other browser that doesn't respect your privacy:
By resisting common fingerprinting techniques, blocking ads, and blocking various tracking methods, privacy browsers offer better privacy over your standard browsers.
Additionally, most privacy browsers aim to limit the amount of "phoning home" they perform. Phoning home typically entails sending detailed data to the browser developer's servers - in some cases (such as with Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome) this data can include:
Typically, when/if a privacy browser "phones home," it will not transmit such data described above. At the most, it should transmit very minimal data. Such cases can include collecting anonymous statistics/telemetry or providing specific services that the user has opted-in to.
Many privacy browsers offer better security features than your standard, run-of-the-mill browser.
They can give you the ability and option to block web scripts from automatically running, force HTTPS connections for sites you visit, and address various "leaks" that occur on the browser level.
Additionally, some privacy browsers disable autofill, storing passwords, and prevent the automatic sharing of your location data when visiting websites.
When properly configured, privacy browsers will block ads, various tracking and fingerprinting methods, and potentially harmful web scripts. This also frequently comes with the "side effect" of loading pages faster and hogging less bandwidth!