Google to Fix Chrome Loophole That Let Sites Track Users in Incognito Mode

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After facing widespread criticism over letting third-party organizations access users’ viewing habits even while browsing in ‘Incognito’ mode, Google has said Chrome will fix the critical loophole that has been exploited by site owners and publishers to detect when people are browsing privately. The change will affect “some publishers who have used the loophole to deter metered paywall circumvention”, said Barb Palser, a Partner Development Manager at Google said in a blog post.

“With the release of Chrome 76 scheduled for July 30, the behavior of the FileSystem API will be modified to remedy this method of Incognito Mode detection. Chrome will likewise work to remedy any other current or future means of Incognito Mode detection”, Google informed.

Google’s acknowledgment came after a new joint study from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pennsylvania revealed that 93 percent of pages track and leak users’ data to third-party organizations even while using the Incognito mode. The study reportedly investigated 22,484 adult websites that were using a tool called ‘webXray’. Among general websites, Google tracks 74 percent of sites, Oracle (Java) 24 percent and Facebook 10 percent, the report concluded.

According to Google, the impending 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. “We suggest publishers monitor the effect of the ‘FileSystem API’ change before taking reactive measures since any impact on user behavior may be different than expected and any change in meter strategy will impact all users, not just those using ‘Incognito’ mode”, Google explained.

With inputs from IANS

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