Internet privacy software is software which is designed to increase an Internet user's privacy. There are a number of different privacy programs available for Internet users, and some people have even developed their own software or additions to software to increase browsing privacy. The cost of such software varies, depending on the developer and the features offered, and some programs require users to be relatively computer savvy for all of the functions to be usable.
Privacy is a concern for many Internet users. On a basic level, people would like to know that personal information they have online is controlled, and that they get to decide how it is used. For example, people who make online purchases would prefer that their home addresses, credit card information, purchasing history, and so forth not be available to the public. Likewise, people may want to protect pseudonymity on the Internet, or to be able to send private emails.
On a more complex level, some Internet users need to be able to maintain full anonymity. Bloggers in repressive countries, for example, may have safety concerns which lead them to use Internet privacy software so that they cannot be tracked. Others may want to mask IP addresses and other information to cover their tracks when engaging in illegal or questionable activity online. There are many other reasons why people might want to browse anonymously or with a higher degree of privacy than can be afforded otherwise.
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Internet privacy software may also be used in locations like workplaces where the information technology department wants to make sure that employees browse safely. This software prevents the accidental release of confidential or personal information, and ensures that company secrets are kept within the company network. It can also be used to protect employees who are not as familiar with Internet safety issues, just as people may use Internet privacy software at home to protect children who are using the computer.
Internet privacy software can perform a range of functions. It can automatically clear history and cookies, for example, in addition to performing more complex tasks like spoofing or masking IP addresses. It can also prompt users when a security or privacy threat is recognized, anonymize personal information, and anonymize browsing. People can usually choose a number of different settings in the software to achieve the desired level of privacy while balancing the need to keep the web browser functional.