Web Browsers


Ethical shopping guide to web browsers, from Ethical Consumer

Ethical shopping guide to web browsers, from Ethical Consumer


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

This report is part of a special report on The Internet and includes:

  • ethical and environmental ratings for 9 web browsers
  • Best Buy recommendations

Customise your scorecard ratings

How important to you?
Less
More
Click the + icon to expand categories

To save your personal score settings and use them elsewhere around the site, please  Log In.

 

Help

Score Ratings

Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings

 

Score table

The score table shows simple numerical ratings out of 20 for each product. The higher the score, the more ethical the company.

Move the sliders to customise these scores. 

Click on a product name to see the stories behind the score (subscribers only). 

 

Full Scorecard

The Full Scorecard shows the 'black marks' for each product, by each of the 17 negative categories. The bigger the mark, the worse the score. So for example a big black circle under 'Worker Rights' shows that the company making this product has been severely criticised for worker abuses.

Scores start at 14.  A small circle means that half a mark is deducted, a large circle means that a full mark is deducted.

Marks are added in the positive categories of Company Ethos and the five Product Sustainability columns (O,F,E,S,A).  A small circle  means that half a mark is added, a large circle means that a full mark is added.

The Full Scorecard is only available to subscribers. Click on the More Detail link at the top of the score table to access it.

 

Customising Rating Scores

Move the sliders to change the weighting given to each category. You can open up each of the 5 main categories by clicking on the + sign. This way you can compare products according to what's ethically important to YOU.  

 

Saving Your Customised Weightings

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 

 

Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 

 

Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

How the Sliders work
Move the sliders to see how different issues affect the score table
Refine each category by clicking the + icons
Save your settings (you need to be signed in first)
Key to expanded Score table

Best Buys

as of Sept/Oct 2014


As our ratings are constantly updated, it is possible that company ratings on the scorecard may have changed since this report was written.

 

Tor, Firefox, Deepnet, Maxthon and Comodo Dragon are the Best Buys.
 

Ethical Business
Directory Links

  • Ethical Internet    view ethical directory profile >

    Green ethical web hosting, website development, and tuition. Also making/filming/editing of videos for websites and...

 

 

Web Browsers

 

Browsers provide our interface with the internet – it is through browsers that we view all websites.

For those of us that spend a lot of time online, the browser we choose each time we go online is likely to be both automatic and engrained, and the idea of switching may never have crossed our minds.
 

image: search engines in ethical shopping guide


Perhaps it is because browsers are free that we might not consider ethics in the same way as if we were buying a physical product in a shop.

But this guide, alongside the feature on Google (which produces the market-dominant Chrome browser), demonstrates that there is a huge difference in the ethical records of the companies covered.

And when ethics are combined with privacy concerns, it’s well worth taking a conscious decision about what browser you use.

 


 

Ethical alternatives

 

The Comodo Dragon browser provides an almost identical experience to Chrome but with added security and some privacy.

 

A popular alternative to Chrome is Firefox, owned by the profit-making Mozilla Corporation which is in turn owned by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation. This tends to be the preferred browser for left-leaning people, as the ethos of the organisation is open source.

Surprisingly, Mozilla gets the vast majority of its income from Google. Mozilla signed a 3 year ‘mutually beneficial commercial agreement’ with Google in 2011 which was reported to be worth $300 million a year or nearly $1billion over the course of the agreement. This is for the browser sending users to the Google search engine.

The Mozilla Foundation’s total revenue in 2012 was $311 million. A fairly conservative estimate is that nearly 90% of its income for the year came from Google.

 

Tor is free anti-surveillance software and the Tor browser allows highly secure, private browsing. It's not suitable for most people's general internet use, as for example it will block plugins needed to watch video. However it is regarded as the best option for times when you want or need to be anonyomous online. 

Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members' online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. However it should also be noted that a branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. The company (which is a not for profit) also receives funding from the US government and military.

 


 

Cookies


Web browsers store ‘cookies’, pieces of data sent from websites while you browse them. If you look at the website again, a cookie will notify the website of your previous activity. Cookies can be used to gather information about your browsing history. They can also store passwords or the contents of forms you fill in online.

Privacy concerns about the use of cookies has prompted the European Union to adopt regulations on their use. See our 'steps to protect yourself' for advice on reducing privacy risks from cookies. 

 


   

This product guide is part of a Special Report on the Internet. See what's in the rest of the report.

 


 

 


 

Navigate To:

 

Ethical made easy

Detailed ethical ratings for over 40,000 companies, brands and products, plus Ethical Consumer magazine.

30 day trial subscription - find out more