Does incognito hide your IP?

Many popular browsers offer a variation of Incognito (or “private”) windows. But are these windows any more private than regular browser windows? Do they hide your IP address or other identifying info?

In this short article, we’ll discuss incognito windows, IP addresses, and more.

What’s an IP address, and how does it affect my online privacy?

Any device that connects to the Web—desktop or laptop computer, tablet or mobile phone—uses the Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate. To connect to the Internet, each device needs a unique address (sort of like a street address for your house). This IP address is generally visible to the apps and services you use online, but can also be useful to advertisers, Big Tech, and others to identify you. If you want privacy, hiding your IP address is a good place to start.

What’s “Incognito mode,” and does it protect my browsing activity?

Browsing in Incognito (or “private”) mode simply means that your browsing history (i.e. the pages you visited) in that browser window are erased when the window is closed. For example, if you share a home computer with your partner, and you’re shopping online for a birthday present for them, doing so in an Incognito window would be a good way to ensure the present stays a surprise once the window is closed. Basically, your browsing activity while in Incognito mode is hidden from other users on your device.

But Incognito mode doesn’t hide your info from websites, advertisers, your Internet service provider (ISP), or Big Tech companies. Even in Incognito mode, Google and others can still track you. Incognito does not hide your IP address.

How does Big Tech use my IP address to track me?

Your IP address is one of many personal data points that Big Tech and other online advertisers can collect; it helps them identify who you are and what you do online. Trackers can identify your device IP address, which allows Big Tech to build a profile of your online habits. Google and other advertisers can then deploy targeted ads based on this profile.

Note that third-party cookies do not persist across Incognito sessions.

Incognito alternatives that hide your browsing activity and IP address

Chrome isn’t a private browser, and Incognito isn’t a privacy hack. And while you could install an ad or tracker blocking extension from the Chrome Web Store, it won’t be native (built-in). Browser-native solutions are still much more reliable and secure.

By contrast, Brave is a private browser that blocks third-party ads and trackers by default, and upgrades your Internet security to HTTPS whenever possible. With Brave, your browsing behavior is hidden from Big Tech: You’re more anonymous regardless of whether you’re in a regular or Incognito (private) window. Brave also gives two options to hide your IP address while browsing: private windows with Tor, and our built-in Firewall + VPN.

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