Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Google will block sites from tracking your incognito activity

Activate Hidden Reader Mode In Chrome Browser Activate Hidden Reader Mode In Chrome Browser
Emmett Howard | 22 July, 2019, 02:56

In Chrome 76, set to launch on July 30, the FileSystem API behavior will be modified to prevent this type of Incognito Mode detection.

Although Google is fixing a privacy loophole that has existed in its browser's Incognito Mode for nearly a decade, it still seems to consider browsing on the internet an "option" it wants to give users. However, various websites have found a way through the FileSystem API to bypass Chrome's privacy conduct and can find out if someone is on their site via incognito mode. In incognito mode, Chrome browser doesn't access your browsing history or save it, cookies or site data like passwords or usernames, and information entered in the forms. Outlets like the New York Times (which we've asked for comment) have been detecting Incognito Mode in a bid to track readership, goad people into subscribing, or both.

This loophole will be closed by Chrome 76 by the end of this month.

The move will be seen as a blow to some news websites who have long-struggled to monetise journalism online. It is this feature that allows websites to know if a visitor was Incognito or not.

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Google notes that this change will affect some publishers who have used the loophole to deter metered paywall circumvention.

By checking for the availability of the API, sites can determine if it has been disabled by the error message they get and, therefore, conclude that it's a private browsing session.

Google's blog post did not mention that Incognito Mode has only limited uses for protecting privacy and that Incognito Mode wouldn't do much for someone trying to evade "political oppression". Require free registration to read any articles, offer a more generous number of free page views, or simply "develop affinity among potential subscribers" - which is something that sounds easier said than done. Using incognito mode is like approaching the same crack dealer in a variety of interesting disguises, getting that sweet free hit indefinitely. "We suggest publishers monitor the effect of the FileSystem API change before taking reactive measures since any impact on user behaviour may be different than expected and any change in meter strategy will impact all users, not just those using Incognito Mode". Google re-emphasized that the goal of the Incognito Mode was to allow users to browse privately.

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