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Google mercifully patched up a loophole that tells websites when you’re in Incognito Mode

Take that, paywalls!

google incognito mode
Image: Google

Google is finally fixing the issue with Incognito Mode that let website operators still track you, effectively making the mode useless. Starting later this month, the update will hopefully make incognito mode work as intended, with one major side-effect that web publishers are going to hate.

That’s right, the publishers that have been using the loophole as part of their metered paywall enforcement are going to need a new way to wall off their paid content.

Google is finally fixing the loophole that made Incognito Mode useless

Web publishers that use paywalls had a problem. Anyone using the inbuilt incognito mode in Chrome could sidestep the paywall. This soon-to-be-patched loophole gave them a way to fight back, by not sending any content to browsers detected to be using incognito mode.

  • Webmasters used checking for Chrome’s FileSystem API as a way to detect incognito mode
  • Google is now closing that loophole, and also any other way of detecting hidden sessions
  • The change is being framed as good for online safety for marginalized groups, such as those affected by political oppression or domestic abuse

This is a welcome step in the right direction for online safety, although it won’t stop all tracking while using incognito mode. The upcoming update won’t stop trackers on porn sites from tracking your incognito sessions, so maybe that’s something Google can look at for future updates.

What do you think? Glad to see Google addressing these issues? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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