What Are Web Surfers Hiding?

By now, Google Chrome’s features are being closely dissected but one thing that struck me about the press conference earlier today was the focus on a feature called InCognito, which lets computer users have private surfing sessions that leave no tracks of where they’ve been and what they’ve done.

InCognito comes hot on the heels of a feature within IE8 Beta called InPrivate that lets you do the exact same thing. It’s anonymous surfing.

What I want to know is what people are doing that has compelled Google and Microsoft to roll out InCognito, which features a private detective icon, and inPrivate.

Are far more people than we think enjoying online porn? Are people trying to protect their eBay activity? Is Ashley Madison becoming all the rage within our increasingly short attention-span society?

There’s got to be a reason that private surfing has suddenly become so important. I mean, we’re all worried about browsing but most computers don’t have more than one user. And if you are on a computer with more than one user, you would think people would be aware of that, and resist the urge to surf porn.

And now back to your regular Chrome programming….., including tech maven, Walt Mossberg’s so-so review of Chrome.

More: For Firefox users, there’s a plug-in called Stealther that provides private surfing.

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  • ahajduk

    As for Private Browsing, all Mac users are enjoying it in Safari already… So it is not fresh idea from Redmond..

    And I believe you confuse “private” and “anonymous” browsing. It is not the same thing.

  • Shane

    Personally, I think it’s almost entirely related to porn. Just because a computer has only one user doesn’t mean that there aren’t many times your significant other is looking over your shoulder as you type something into the location bar :-0

    I think private surfing is as important as it has always been. Previously, you had to be vigilant about deleting cookies, history, location bar etc after every ‘stealth session’. This often logged you out of your sites or wiped out most visited locations that were auto-completed.

    I think once people got a taste of how easy it is to manage all of this with a privacy mode, they realised how badly they wanted it.

  • Svetlana Gladkova

    I believe you under-estimate the importance of porn surfing – I have recently heard that every 9 of 10 clicks online are done on a porn-related link so that must prove why the developers see a potential for anonymous browsing.

  • dp

    The anonymising feature strikes me as a bit of superficial dressing that’s meant mainly to give people a false sense of security. A lot of people are scared about online fraud, trojans, domestic spying and so on. They’ll be thinking any baked-in security features are a step in the right direction. I expect that any further security features would be equally welcome.

    I don’t know that these features are anything new. It may just be that they’re enabled with a single click instead of going through the options pages.

  • Chris Schmitt

    Horny teen boys all over the world will love this feature!