In a time when privacy is of high priority for internet users of all interests, from hardcore gamers to infinite scrollers of Instagram, they often find comfort in tools like Google Chrome Incognito mode. Their faith may be misplaced. In Chrome Incognito mode’s current iteration, it’s possible for websites to track your usage and even block you from their site.
According to KnowTechie, the Silicon Valley search giant is hoping to fix Chrome Incognito mode in an upcoming update. Google Chrome Incognito mode is touted as enabling users to browse the web free from tracking, preventing advertisements based on their personal preferences and circumventing article limits on media sites. However, Incognito mode is currently giving the game away.
The problem with Chrome Incognito mode is the FileSystem API. Currently, for Incognito mode to work, Google disables the FileSystem API in order to prevent the saving of application files. Website owners are now checking to see if this API is disabled to determine whether a user is utilizing Incognito and then acting accordingly.
Google has a plan to fix the problem. The plan is to create a fix that mimics the FileSystem API, preventing website owners from using this as an indication of Incognito mode. It remains to be seen how long a workaround like this will last, with website owners likely to inevitably work out a way to detect if the API has been mimicked.
Google’s Chrome Incognito mode has come in for criticism before. Late last year, Google search rival DuckDuckGo accused the company of tracking users in Incognito mode themselves. DuckDuckGo claimed Google searches inside of Incognito mode were personalized, including data obtained from within the mode. Google denied this and claimed their rival’s methodology was flawed.
Google’s Chrome Incognito mode fix is scheduled to come in the Chrome 74 update in April. The fix is expected to be opt-in at first, then becoming the default option by Chrome 76.