Google Chrome's loophole fix is a blow for News publisher revenues

Ruben Fields
July 22, 2019

Google's customers and the company itself do not stop from finding ways to keep this from happening by getting around the Incognito modes and functions.

The splash page for Chrome's Incognito Mode specifically states that, while "other people who use this device won't see your activity", it "might still be visible to websites that you visit, your employer or school, and your internet service provider". They could "even just use multiple browsers to extend the free access, Robert Pritchard, founder of The Cyber Security Expert, explains "if you're savvy enough to use incognito mode you're presumably savvy enough to download a second browser and delete the cookies frequently".

"People choose to browse the web privately for many reasons". However, that may not be enough because websites can still use a Chrome loophole to know if a user is accessing through private browsing.

Google says that despite recognising the impact it has on some publishers, it remains committed to the principles of private browsing.

For example, those in domestic abuse situations or living in areas of political unrest will have an important reason for wanting to hide their online activity.

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In the new update, this tweak will be enabled by default.

When the Chrome 76 update rolls out, websites will no longer be able to check whether the FileSystem API is available because they will no longer get the error message. Again, websites usually have the ability to go against this but by the end of the month Chrome 76 will cancel the loophole.

Google also said that it's going to block any other method of detecting hidden sessions.

Google has said it will plug a loophole in the Incognito mode of its Chrome Web browser in a bid to better protect user privacy. Google urged that publishers avoid knee-jerk reactions to the Chrome change and instead consider both extra "generous" free view allowances or requiring an open registration for all content, not slightly below sure articles or conditions. "However, any approach based on private browsing detection undermines the principles of Incognito mode".

Earlier this week, a study conducted by Microsoft Research, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pennsylvania revealed that a staggering 93% of the 22,484 porn websites surveyed were leaking user data to third parties.

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