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Despite the promise that browsing the internet with Google Chrome’s incognito mode gives you true anonymity, websites have had a workaround to detect if you’re browsing incognito, and even paywall their content entirely.
Google is now promising to close that loophole, which stems from the FileSystem API, and guarantee full privacy when you use incognito mode in Chrome. Websites sniff out whether or not you’re in incognito mode by checking the availability of the FileSystem API when you browse to a site.
The API is turned off for incognito users, so the API returns an error message, thus being a good indicator of you browsing in the anonymous mode. Sites can then lock off their content, or demand you offer cash to go through a paywall.
Google is promising to cut off this loophole on July 30th, as well as guaranteeing any future methods of detecting private browsing will be crushed. What about the websites who rely on paywalls for their revenue? Google is aware of this, but they’re prioritizing users’ privacy first.
The loophole fix is coming in the upcoming Chrome 76 release.