Google wants to make it more difficult to keep Chrome users in incognito mode

Feb

18

2019

Google is reportedly planning to make it harder for websites to detect whether a visitor uses Chromes incognito mode. The company therefore wants to prevent website visitors from being turned away or seeing content.

According to 9to5Google , Google plans to make a change in a future Chrome version with respect to the so-called FileSystem API. As soon as a user visits a website in incognito mode, the api is disabled, because otherwise permanent files are created. However, the disabled api is a sign for websites that a visitor uses the incognito mode, after which sites, for example, block certain content.

Blocking content is a means that some websites use because the tracking of users through cookies is an important source of income for websites and the incognito mode prevents this. By subsequently blocking content, they are likely to discourage these visitors from using incognito mode.

Google plans to do something about this by giving websites the idea that the FileSystem API is working and operational, and the incognito mode is used. This is done by having Chrome create a temporary virtual file system in the ram of the used computer. That should make it impossible for websites to detect whether someone is using incognito mode. Because it is stored in the ram, the system is removed once Chrome is shut down; this means that no permanent files remain.

The website 9to5Google reports on the basis of internal documents that Google is considering removing the FileSystem api as a whole. After the above solution, Google would look at how often legitimate use is made of the api. If it then appears that little use is made of it, and the api was actually only used or mainly used to detect the incognito mode, Google could remove it.

A developer responsible for this solution reports that it is intended to be released in Chrome version 74, which is likely to be released in April. The function to block the detection of incognito mode by third-party sites is not yet enabled by default; users must do this in the settings. In Chrome 76, the feature should then be enabled by default.

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