Google Chrome 76 will plug loophole that allowed sites to detect Incognito Mode

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Jul 19 2019
Google Chrome 76 will plug loophole that allowed sites to detect Incognito Mode

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Google Chrome 76 to modify Incognito Mode FileSystem API.

It will let users circumvent websites’ paywalls.

Google Chrome will be released on July 30.

Chrome’s Incognito Mode is based on the principle that you should have the choice to browse the web privately. However, some platforms have found a way to detect browsing through this mode. Google has now announced that it will introduce a modification to the Incognito Mode in the Chrome 76 that will bar sites from detecting users who are browsing in Incognito Mode. These websites use FileSystem API loophole to detect whether a person is browsing in Incognito Mode and once detected, they provide users a different experience. Chrome 76 is scheduled to be released on July 30.

“People choose to browse the web privately to protect their privacy on shared or borrowed devices, or to exclude certain activities from their browsing histories. At the end of July, Chrome will remedy a loophole that has allowed sites to detect people who are browsing in Incognito Mode. This will affect some publishers who have used the loophole to deter metered paywall circumvention. Chrome will likewise work to remedy any other current or future means of Incognito Mode detection,” Barb Palser, Partner Development Manager, News and Web Partnerships, said in a blog post.

As mentioned, the change will affect sites that use the FileSystem API to intercept Incognito Mode sessions and require people to log in or switch to normal browsing mode on the assumption that these individuals are attempting to circumvent metered paywalls. For example, you are browsing a site that gives a certain number of free articles in a month. After you have crossed that limit, the website will ask you to subscribe. Users generally visit such sites through Incognito Mode to skip this limit. However, these sites have mechanisms in place that can detect your free article count, typically using cookies. With this modification, these sites won't be able to detect if a user is browsing in Incognito Mode.

“Sites that wish to deter meter circumvention have options such as reducing the number of free articles someone can view before logging in, requiring free registration to view any content, or hardening their paywalls. Other sites offer more generous meters as a way to develop affinity among potential subscribers, recognising some people will always look for workarounds.  We suggest publishers monitor the effect of the FileSystem API change before taking reactive measures,” the executive said.

In the beta version of Chrome 76, Google suggested a slew of user-facing changes related to Adobe Flash. Chrome 76 will reportedly block Flash by default in the browser. However, users still have the option to switch back to the current “Ask first” option for a few more releases. Google says that by not using Flash, users would be able to enjoy “faster, safer, and more battery-efficient browsing experience.” Adobe announced end of support for Flash in July 2017.

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