• Ulaa disables the API that allows websites to connect and communicate with devices connected to your computer or wifi network.
• It is designed to help users protect their personal information and internet activity from the prying eyes of user tracking.
Global technology firm Zoho has launched Ulaa, a privacy-centric browser built specifically to help users secure personal data and online activity.
The browser blocks tracking and website surveillance.
Zoho said in a statement the browser’s name originates from the Tamil language and connotes the beginning of a journey into secured browsing.
"Ulaa is the next step in Zoho Corporation's long-standing commitment to privacy,” the statement reads in part.
"It is designed to help users protect their personal information and internet activity from the prying eyes of user tracking.”
According to the 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, 85 per cent of global adults want to do more to protect their online privacy.
The report said that two-thirds of global consumers feel that tech companies have too much control over their data.
Zoho Kenya country head Veerakumar Natarajan said that not many browsers on the market today are built to protect user privacy.
He added that they were created to protect respective company’s ad-based business models and surveillance companies that complement them.
"This conflict between user's preferences and browser's business models means end users lose," he said.
"With Ulaa, users don't have to compromise their privacy to browse the web, which unfortunately has become a surveillance minefield. Zoho's commitment to privacy and a privacy-centric business model allows us to offer a conflict-free, privacy-centric browser," Natarajan said.
Ulaa is rooted in three main areas as it works to protect against tracking and surveillance.
Ad and data tracking blockers prevent unauthorised push notifications, pop-ups and time tracking.
"Existing browsers use time trackers or idle monitors to power recommendation algorithms and browser suggestions, which ultimately feeds that data back to the software provider and the companies that pay them for user data,” Zoho said.
"Ulaa does not track or share user data with any third parties.”
"DNS prefetching is prohibited so data cannot be cached as are motion sensors that track mouse movement and clicks."
Users have access to Ulaa's multi-ID model, which offers unique IDs that are tied to the browser, which are refreshed frequently to add an extra layer of protection from tracking software.
In addition to privacy customisations, anonymised user data and stats, geographical data isolation, end-to-end encryption and privacy reports, Ulaa disables the API that allows websites to connect and communicate with devices connected to your computer or wifi network.
Ulaa is equipped with tabs management options to view all open tabs in one place, grouped and organised.
Users can easily switch between tabs or move tabs to a different mode or a new window.
It also comes with integrated productivity apps, including Zia Search for existing Zoho users, Text2Speech and Zoho Notebook, a dedicated note-taking space that works across all tabs.
Ulaa has Annotator, a new in-built feature that can add annotations directly to web pages and images.
3. User modes
Ulaa has five browsing modes that are isolated from each other that seek to provide unique protected browsing experiences.
Users can use Dynamic Mode Switching to save preferred modes for specific websites.
It will automatically open the site in the saved mode when the user visits it again.
Users will be prompted to switch modes if a website was previously opened in a different mode.
These modes include:
a)Personal and Work Modes
Both modes are easy to differentiate for home or work use.
"Personal Mode can be used for banking, streaming, and shopping without signing in, and is supported with secure logins and privacy features like ad-blockers,” Zoho said.
“Work Mode can pull in apps, websites and extensions for work and has an ad blocker for protection from phishing attacks.”
This is for web developers and testers.
It has developer tools and suggested extensions to ensure website compatibility and test new features.
This is a family-friendly mode that seeks to provide a safe online space for children to learn, play games and explore content.
It has content filtering and parental control features to block inappropriate websites.
"It's easy to navigate, has ad-free games and creativity-promoting apps. Features like Child Lock and Learning-on-the-Go restrict access to other modes,"Zoho stated.
d)Open Season Mode
This mode has no privacy restrictions with no ad or tracking blockers and no UI or feature breakages.
The company said that it is similar to an average browser and allows access to all websites, including "zero-restriction" sites.
"The red theme serves as a reminder of disabled data protection features and informs users they're being surveilled online," Zoho noted.