Google will stop websites from knowing your browsing status

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Many of us feel safer surfing the internet when that little sign with the circular specs and hat is displayed on the top of the window: the Incognito Mode.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. This compromises users’ privacy and can inhibit them from evading metered paywalls.

Since the API is switched off for those using Incognito Mode, an error is sent back to the website being used, which indirectly tells them that the user is viewing its content through private browsing.

Nevertheless, Google says that from July 30 onwards, it will guarantee users’ privacy on this mode by finishing the loophole and other such methods in the future.

This worries publishers of websites who rely on metered paywalls (providing users’ the option of using the site for free for a limited time period after which they have to sign up). To this, Google says that users’ privacy is its first and foremost concern and it will provide other similar options to these sites.

“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, recognizing some people will always look for workarounds.

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,” says Google.

The updates will be introduced with the upcoming Chrome 76 release and will be accompanied with other changes, such as automatic respect for the users’ choice to be on Dark Mode, a new payments API and developments to progressive web apps (PWAs).