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Ask HN: Is Edge any better or worse than Chrome on privacy?
140 points by StevePerkins 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 120 comments
I primarily use Firefox, but occasionally I have to resort to Chrome for certain poorly-designed websites.

Now that Microsoft Edge is Chromium-based, is it any better as an alternative? Is the privacy any more respectable, or does it simply replace all the Google phone-homing with the same level of Microsoft phone-homing?

Edge does not (e2e) encrypt your synced browsing history and your bookmarks. In the help pages Microsoft tries to weasel itself out of it by talking about TLS or encryption "at rest".

Chrome on the other hand can do end to end encryption by providing your own password.

Windows 10 has an advertising ID that is passed via Edge to Bing Ads. Chrome does the same thing with a low entropy ID passed to DoubleClick. In both cases this is used to track you. The difference is that Microsoft can potentially track your behavior in other apps as well.

Google is also very transparent about what they collect about you. You can also opt out of any collection or personalization. Do you know what Microsoft collects about you? They sure collect a ton of telemetry, with no way to opt out in some cases. The terms of Windows Insiders for example are ridiculous.

And Bing Ads is generating about $8 billion per year which isn't pocket change. If you think Microsoft isn't making a shitload of money from ads, you're wrong.

In other words they are very equivalent, but due to lacking end to end encryption for synchronized data, I can't touch Edge.

Note that I don't use Chrome either, only for testing like you. Firefox is better than both if concerned about privacy.

> Do you know what Microsoft collects about you?


https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/privacy/required-wi... https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/privacy/windows-dia... https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/privacy/diagnostic-...

What's with this trend on HN to act like Microsoft's telemetry collection is some kind of mysterious black box?

As I understand it, there is no way to audit what is being sent to MS, so it is effectively a black box. If that has changed that would be great to know about...

Is it naive to assume that the advertising ID, etc. are left out of plain Chromium?

Advertising ID likely yes, but Chromium still connects to other Google services in the background. If you want Chrome without Google your best option is ungoogled-chromiun.

Indeed, it is. That's why this exists: https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium

for those that care so much about privacy but figure it's still ok to download ungoogled-chromium

> NOTE: These binaries are provided by anyone who are willing to build and submit them. Because these binaries are not necessarily reproducible, authenticity cannot be guaranteed; In other words, there is always a non-zero probability that these binaries may have been tampered with. In the unlikely event that this has happened to you, please report it in a new issue.

>Google is also very transparent about what they collect about you. You can also opt out of any collection or personalization.

Only when they get caught.

One example. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/12/28...

I believe it's a better alternative to Chrome if you are already using Windows.

Edge Chromium still has telemetry data sent to MS but it respects the privacy control and group policy in Windows, so if you have already set Windows telemetry to low, it sent almost nothing. I recommends usage of "O&O ShutUp10" to disable all Windows and Edge telemetry.

It doesn't have telemetry data sent to Google (no contact with Google owned domain).

It also has a third party tracking blocker included and enabled by default which makes it way better than Chrome on that point. On my installation, it even blocks Microsoft tracking...

I use Pi-Hole to keep track of the domains reached by Edge and so far, there are nothing really worrying me (I already use Windows so my expectations are relative).

What about running on Windows Home which sends much more telemetry?

Also, "almost nothing" is not nothing and I don't believe Microsoft getting all the data is a much better situation compared to Microsoft and Google getting some of the data.

> Also, "almost nothing" is not nothing

True, but OPs question was “better or worse”.

As far as I know, Home and Pro editions of Windows 10 don't differ in regards to telemetry. They both offer two settings: "basic" and "full". Enterprise and Education editions can go one level below with the "security" setting.

(Edit) The settings are now called "off", "required" and "optional": https://www.computerworld.com/article/3532008/microsoft-elim...

You are right, this was tested on Windows Pro so I can't tell about Home version. Might worth trying ShutUp10 on Home. It might be able to disable some or all tracking...

What a time to br alive. I love it that MS now is the do no evil entity. Support linux? Own github? Respects privacy settings?

I respectfully carefully celebrate this information and hope to see more!

They're not the do no evil entity. There are privacy concerns with Windows 10. Windows 10 also has many dark patterns present to get you to opt into their privacy invasive patterns. There was a hacker news story on here about 2 days ago about them exfiltrating data from firefox to import into edge without user permission.

They're spending billions of dollars to court developer good will, while at the same time undoing this effort through these practices. I for one refuse to use Windows, and do not trust Microsoft.

No for-profit company is your friend. Only as long as they can extract value. Not a cynical view. There is plenty of evidence.

Or... It's easy to altruistic when shareholders are happy with stock performance. When the stock be a tankin', altruism gets a spankin' (best rhyme I could come up with).

Well, it can be a cynical view and a correct view at the same time.

I do question the black and whiteness of the comment. Also, what do you mean by "friend"? An (also cynical) argument could be made that even your actual friends are out to advance their own interests first, and are using you to those ends.

A more realistic and useful statement might be that for-profit companies lie on a spectrum -- none are purely "good" and none are purely "evil."

I imagine that you can probably substitute "for-profit companies" with "humans and human run organizations" and it would still be true.

Thats why i celebrate the move on that spectrum with care :D ... i remember the 2000s.

I just hope the trend continues and gives us more

i think it's because their main line of business is selling software & services (it's not about pushing adds)

they got it that there is more to loose from being pushy - once they were no longer on top of the heap. Doing 'no evil' is a great reputation builder and good for the bottom line (if your business ends allow you to be nice and pleasant, that is). Also reputation becomes very important when you are into selling services (like cloud hosting)

Actually not many established companies of this size are able to make a transition like this one.

Nah, more of the same smoke and mirrors; their treatment of AppGet is the proof in the pudding.

Those privacy settings were introduced after they started seriously increasing the amount of telemetry and personal data Windows collects by default. Its is not an example of "do no evil".

Chrome policies also allow preventing telemetry so how is this any better?

Presumably because if you cared about telemetry and are using windows you'd have disabled windows telemetry already. That means you don't have to do anything extra compared to chrome where you have to search up all the telemetry disabling policies. There's also like this[1] that can't be disabled by group policy.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22236106

You still have to disable those policies for Edge too. Firefox also has network prediction and malware detection that sends your searches to a third-party, as well as telemetry.

>You still have to disable those policies for Edge too.

Do you? The grandparent suggests that if you disable telemetry[1] it would be disabled in edge.

>Firefox also has network prediction and malware detection that sends your searches to a third-party, as well as telemetry.

Not sure why you're bringing up firefox here, when this comment chain was talking about chrome vs edge.

[1] presumably https://getadmx.com/?Category=Windows_10_2016&Policy=Microso...

He/She is right. There are some remaining to be disabled either directly in Edge configuration screen or via GPO too.

But I'm assuming that if you are looking for some sort of privacy with Windows, you have already toggled off those or use ShutUp10 which happens to do this all automatically.

Did you encounter any interesting domains?

Not really.

update.googleapis.com for Chromium extension update if you use any.

edge.microsoft.com for updating some feature in the browser like dictionaries, trackers list, etc.

config.edge.skype.com for browser settings (not sure about this one, probably a feature to enable/disable feature on the fly like Firefox Normandy system).

There are other ones like the SmartScreen feature but it disabled on my system. Also I have search suggestion off.

The data sent are really low for my case.

It's significantly better. Basically, Microsoft added the tracking protection features[1] Firefox and legacy Edge have to Chrome. Yeah, in terms of sending data to Google vs. Microsoft, that footprint is similar, but third party tracking differences are huge. Edge sends a fraction of the requests to third party services while web browsing as Chrome does.

Google has decided to implement third party cookie blocking in Chrome recently... solely in incognito mode[2]. Firefox, Edge, Safari, etc. all do it all the time in normal mode too. This renders Chrome the least privacy-minded browser, primarily because Google heavily values ad tracking as a business practice.

[1] https://www.zdnet.com/article/with-its-new-edge-browser-micr... [2] https://venturebeat.com/2020/05/19/google-chrome-83/

Is it different than using ublock origin

Generally ad blockers end up blocking ads whether they track or not: There are people out there who believe they are entitled to not see advertising or something. Tracking protection is generally close to an add blocker, but won't do anything to prevent display of first party ads or ads that do not attempt to track you.

Generally, I'd argue the latter is better than the former, as it encourages websites and the ad industry to behave better: Stop invading my privacy and your ads stop getting blocked.

I would agree. I use Privacy Badger (always) and NoScript (most of the time). If an add happens to not get blocked by these, great!

I'm perfectly fine with viewing an add that is not doing bad things.

Indeed. I'm a big fan of Firefox + Privacy Badger. It predated most browser tracking prevention features, and I've found more and more is getting caught by the browser before it even makes it to Privacy Badger. I suspect eventually Firefox will be good enough at it to render the extension mostly obsolete.

What about Opera? it's also based on chromium these days.

Considering Operas current ownership (Chinese private equity) I would not use it.


There's a difference between Chinese ethnicity ̶a̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ as could be inferred from your comment and a Chinese company as in the parent comment.

I read it as a sarcastic response, but sure enough a /sarcasm tag would be appropriate



Any private company in China is by default a business partner with the state. If you believe that the government doesn't coerce companies to comply with their wishes you are mistaken.
SahAssar 5 days ago [flagged]

Jesus! Do they control the illuminati too?

From a study conducted by Douglas J Leith from the School of Computer Science & Statistics at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, they found that the new chromium based Edge is sending hardware UUID's back to Microsoft and there isn't an option to turn it off.

"From a privacy perspective Microsoft Edge and Yandex are much more worrisome than the other browsers studied. Both send identifiers that are linked to the device hardware and so persist across fresh browser installs and can also be used to link different apps running on the same device. Edge sends the hardware UUID of the device to Microsoft, a strong and enduring identifier than cannot be easily changed or deleted. Similarly, Yandex transmits a hash of the hardware serial number and MAC address to back end servers. As far as we can tell this behaviour cannot be disabled by users. In addition to the search autocomplete functionality (which can be disabled by users) that shares details of web pages visited, both transmit web page information to servers that appear unrelated to search autocomplete."


It's currently worse due to the lack of E2EE history/password sync and increased metrics collection (even the new tab page tracks you).

Chrome has E2EE history/password sync, which allows you to specify a sync encryption password that is different from your Google password.

You can use a 3rd party service like dashlane or bitwarden

It should be better, but you might as well use Vivaldi, if you need a chrome-based browser. It comes with tracker blockers included and has a lot of privacy and power user features.

How does Vivaldi compare to Brave, which is also Chromium-based and privacy focused?

Is there a compelling reason to use one over the other, such as the organizations behind them or power user features?

Over the past few weeks I've been using both, Brave is a little more polished and the built in blockers are great.

However, they've been caught a couple of times doing naughty things:


Combine that with a CEO who had a my way or die reputation for not admitting something's wrong and you've got a browser I removed from my system. Trust is huge and makes me wonder what else is happening in the background nobody has caught.

Vivaldi's got all kinds of tweaks exposed you'd need to dig into flags for. I like that. I think my biggest gripe is dragging and dropping links out doesn't work. Pretty small potatoes.

Daily driver is still Firefox + uMatrix + uBlock Origin and hoping for Mozilla email + calendaring at some point soon (take my money!).

> Mozilla email + calendaring

So Thunderbird with Lightning?

Great for the last mile. Thinking more of storage and server management.

edit: I am tired of this place.

The CEO did not in fact donate to a hate campaign. Please avoid defaming someone with mischaracterizations of their opinion. He is a religious man who believes that marriage is a religious institution between a man and a woman. You don’t agree with that position. Neither do I. And it might be hurtful. But this is not the same thing as a hate campaign. Eich does not hate gay people. Many who opposed Prop 8 (and the majority opposed it, don’t forget - it failed) did so more or less on semantic principles. They supported equal rights but objected to using the word “marriage” specifically, as they felt that it was redefining a religious word. Some undoubtedly did hate gays, but viewpoints of the opposition were nuanced and varied. It’s not accurate to conflate them all with hate.

The Thiel boycott seems futile, because I doubt you’re also opposing facebook, paypal, spacex, stripe, spotify, and dozens of other SaaS that is powering services you use.

I think the same could be said of Brave.

Vivaldi reminds me of Opera (which was my main browser for a while); Brave seems more vanilla somehow (to me, coming from FF).

Did you answer the question?

The post title:

> Is Edge any better or worse than Chrome on privacy?

From GP:

> It should be better, but [...]

Your comment to GP:

> Did you answer the question?

Did you add any value to the conversation, like GP did?

This isn't a Q&A site

The full readme is worth the read about chromium/chrome. But this highlights edge differences. No browser is perfect, but you can always be able to restrict things or use GPo baselines to limit browser use.


Might be very slightly better in itself, but combine this with all the other telemetry Windows 10 collects and overall I'd say the amount of telemetry collected on you by MS is about the same.

I was thinking: of your already using MS Windows then Edge at least send to reduce the companies you're sending the data to. The reverse might be true if you use Google Search/Mail/other apps.

Interesting point; that could be both good and bad; good in the sense of reducing the number of parties collecting telemetry. Bad in that it makes it conveniently centralized for any malicious actor.

You can read their respective privacy policies to understand what data they collect and how it is used.

If you're skeptical of their legal terms, then you're better off with Chromium as it remains open-source. Edge unfortunately is a closed-source product.

Not sure what your point is. The new Edge is also based on Chromium, and Chrome has parts which aren’t open source.

I never mentioned Chrome at all. I said if you don't trust the privacy policy, then you should use Chromium which is open-source.

Oh I misread your comment. That makes sense. My bad!

If you are concerned about privacy of chromium-based browsers, I don't think anything would beat just straight chromium.

However, on my machines I just main firefox with edge as a backup. Mainly because edge is already pre-installed on my Windows machines so there isn't really much point downloading and installing an alternative which does the exact same thing. Especially if it's only for use on chromium specific websites.

It's not like you can remove edge from Windows 10. Why would I install Vivaldi, Google Chrome or Brave?

Wouldn't Firefox with all the inbuilt tracking protection, etc be better than Chromium? I seem to remember some bug reports of Chromium sending requests to Google servers too.

I main Firefox on all my platforms. I would prefer to use it wherever possible over any chromium browser.

Sometimes I get forced to use a chromium based browser for specific sites. In those cases I use edge for Windows because it's built-in and can't be removed anyway.

If I was just commenting that I would prefer to use chromium for privacy reasons but it's not worthy of installing separately for the few chromium specific sites I need to visit.

I don't see how having a preference over this is downvote worthy. Isn't that the entire purpose of these kinds of threads?

Some things like Facebook multi/group (2+) user video chat or google stadia require some form of chromium. I use Firefox for everything else.

Do you actually use Stadia? If so, how do you like it ?

Thumper is unplayable on my flex 14 and Comcast WiFi but it is very YMMV.

Thumper is a simple game but it requires you to basically turn left, turn right, or shields up very quickly. It is basically a reaction time test so very susceptible to latency.

I had earlier played assassin's creed in the private beta thing on an older laptop on Verizon FiOS. I did reach for the Ethernet cable most of the time but iirc it was serviceable even on WiFi because assassin's creed is less affected by the occasional latency spike. That or maybe Verizon FiOS where I was before in the city area has fewer connection problems than Comcast further out of a town.

I tend not to play shooters, so latency (hopefully) wouldn't be that critical for me...

I do worry about how fast it would eat up bandwidth though...

I have technical issues with Firefox, it might be my computer, but after spending an hour trying to solve them, I gave up.

Anyway that's why I'm here.

What kinds of technical issues were you experiencing with Firefox? Please feel free to elaborate. I have significant experience with the browser and there are very few user issues I've not been able to resolve.

Pages take abnormally long to load.

I have plenty of space on my SSD. Lots of free ram. I uninstalled and reinstalled.

Wouldn't the EFF's extensions and uBlock Origin serve that purpose anyway?

Not entirely, that won't replicate Firefox's containers. (Also suggest Cookie AutoDelete extension for the privacy-focused.)

On top of that I also have privacy badger.

https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium would probably be better than a simple Chromium.

Last time I looked into it (when Chrome's update behaviour on Windows broke the proverbial camel's back), there was no good way to automate updates of plain/ungoogled Chromium on Windows systems.

Still no package managers on Windows?

Seems ridiculous that every program has to include its own update manager—on MacOS too but it at least has brew-cask.

Chocolatey has U.Chromium

Chocolatey has Brave too, and other Chromium-based browsers : https://chocolatey.org/packages?q=tag%3Achromium .

You're looking for Ungoogled-Chromium. Or honestly. Just mitigated Chromium.

Privacy is not as important as security, because without security you potentially lose both.

It's worse,plus it does shady crap like sniff browsing history on other browsers.

I use Edge when using Google services such as Gmail and Chrome when using Microsoft services such as Office 365. That way they can't log me into the browser when I log into the service.

I use Firefox for the same reason, especially that, thanks to tab containers, I can be logged in in one tab and out in another.

Linking your browser login to online services is incredibly invasive.

Regarding tab containers: last I tried them there was no way to clear cookies in a container. Is this still the case?

Still the case.

The features is no used enought, people don't know about it, and because of that, there is no pressure to improve it.

E.G: the "forget this site" button will remove all cookies, local storage, cache, etc. for one site. Very handy, because I don't want to bust my entire cache every time. But it will remove them for all containers, which sometimes is not what you need.

Thanks. Ironically, this also means that chrome has more visible support for tab-containering, with its clear support for simultaneous windows with different profiles. Can I do the same in Firefox?

About:profiles is what you are looking for.

This is a messy workaround, but I just delete the container and create a new one with the same name.

Why not just use Firefox?

I've recently switched from Chrome to FF on Android. It's better in many ways, but it's noticeably and frustratingly slower on nearly all websites. For example, trying to minimize a comment on HN is now very frustrating as there's a >1 second delay which frequently results in me tap the target multiple times causing all kinds of weirdness.

Are you running Firefox Preview/Nightly? I've found them to be even faster than Chrome on my device.

That might be an android thing.

I keep seeing people say that but as a Linux user, Chromium has hardware acceleration and works better with Wayland.

Did you try Firefox-Wayland lately? I use both chromium-freeworld and firefox-wayland on Wayland, and no problems so far. Also, hardware acceleration is meant to land in Firefox 76[0]

0: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1619258

Yes and yes, unfortunately can't wait around for Mozilla. This has been a problem for years now. Even with Mozilla's new official VPN service, and similar to their password manager, they did not start with support for Linux and it is always on the backburner. Until they want to prioritize open source first I am not interested in their solutions. I use chromium on Arch and it has hardware acceleration and everything else I can adjust through my policy file.

in terms of privacy, Edge has the edge (badum-tss) over Chrome because of the built-in tracking prevention, and telemetry disabled by default. That's it.

your privacy really depends on how many "sweeties" do you use. If you let all those "helper services" enabled by default, your privacy is more compromised that if you take 3 minutes to go through the settings and enable only what you want.

If you're concerned about your privacy, just read their privacy policy. In general terms, it comes down to Google wanting to get as much information about you as possible, and Microsoft is rather interested in how you interact with their services. In either case, you have access in your account dashboard to what information has been collected, and check how in Google's case it's up to the minimum detail, whereas in Microsoft is like "yesterday you used Outlook, Edge and OneDrive...". Also, in either case, which is something many people fail to understand, the collected information is actually anonymous. They don't care if you are John Doe or Alice, Bob's wife... they care that UUID likes this and that, and do this and that.

Not privacy related but on Windows 10 I find Edge to be performing a little better compared to Chrome under the same tabs / workload / extensions. Its anecdotal though so I can't be certain, anyone else has similar experience?

I have been testing Edge on iOS for Privacy practices. I think there are lot of things to improve. Also, it would be great for Edge to make it easier way to report and have discussions. Currently it’s a black box.

- https://twitter.com/konarkmodi/status/1258163915319640071

- https://twitter.com/konarkmodi/status/1258185278168223746

- https://twitter.com/konarkmodi/status/1262019416914644994

- https://twitter.com/konarkmodi/status/1258338835722887171

Doesn't edge on iOS just use an UI only top of Safari Webview?

Yes, Apple doesn't allow 3rd party browsers on IOS.

So iOS Chrome/Firefox is just Safari wrapped in a GUI?


I think so, but the data collection practices are governed by individual apps.

Privacy is such a vague and useless term nowadays that it is very difficult to say what is better unequivocally. So it would be useful if you define what you consider to be 'privacy' and what matters more vs less.

If you care at all about privacy, I don't see how you could stomach either. Firefox is the only reasonable choice when it comes to privacy, and even that isn't perfect.

I mean, there is Tor. If you don't care that much about latency, that could be a reasonable option as long as you aren't streaming something.

as a rule of thumb no proprietary browser is good on privacy.

Edge isn’t great. Why not look at de googled chromium or brave instead?

I have maybe one website that I like to use brave for and the rest all work with Firefox 100%

On MacOS, I was rather surprised to find the truly extraordinary amount of locations Edge installs stuff, which aren't removed when deleting the app.

My impression was they we're trying to survive all uninstall attempts by using two dozen different methods to autostart various services and updaters?

With Google’s practices of gathering your personal data, why is Chrome even in the running in any of the discussions about browsers? I mean, Firefox and Safari exist, people. But maybe it’s me. What am I missing here?

Thanks for the downvote but really, what am I missing?

Like the sibling comment said, Chrome has a massive market share. This leads companies to only test their sites on Chrome, leading to the sites not working properly elsewhere, leading to the gamerbros and many powerusers to refuse to use something else.

Sadly, tracking doesn't seem to worry most people as much as it does me and you.

Chrome's market share is too high to ignore it.

Somewhat unrelated, but I started having many websites that don't work properly in Firefox in the last couple of weeks...

The whole reason that Microsoft creates this product is for tracking.

Even if that was true, it doesn't mean that their browser does more tracking than Chrome.

Sad, that that is the situation.

Though the OP's question is a little odd to me - if you know enough to ask, why would you use either?

The real reason why Microsoft has a browser is that they tried to monopolize the web in the 90s and failed.

The browser never went away, though!

Not based on actual research, but my guess is that with Edge, you'll now have Google phone-homing combined with Microsoft phone-homing. Unless Microsoft actively went out of their way to remove calls to Google, there may still be many present, as found in many reports about Chromium.

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