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Tech Giant Google to Fix Loophole That Lets Sites to Track Porn-viewing Habits of People

According to Google, the change will affect sites that use the “FileSystem API” to intercept “Incognito” mode sessions and require people to log in or switch to normal browsing mode,” on the assumption that these individuals are attempting to circumvent metered paywalls

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A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

After facing criticism over letting third-party organization get access to users’ viewing habits even while browsing in ‘Incognito’ mode, Google has said Chrome will fix a loophole that has allowed sites to detect people who are browsing the web privately.

This confirms that a loophole is indeed there in “Incognito” mode allowing site owners and publishers to detect when people are browsing privately, including porn.

“People choose to browse the web privately for many reasons. Some wish to protect their privacy on shared or borrowed devices, or to exclude certain activities from their browsing histories,” Barb Palser, a Partner Development Manager at Google said in a blog post.

Chrome will remedy a loophole that has allowed sites to detect people who are browsing in ‘Incognito’ Mode.

“This will affect some publishers who have used the loophole to deter metered paywall circumvention,” Palser added.

When third-party vendors use the loophole in Chrome’s “Incognitoa mode, Chrome’s FileSystem API is disabled to avoid leaving traces of activity on someone’s device.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

“With the release of Chrome 76 scheduled for July 30, the behaviour of the FileSystem API will be modified to remedy this method of Incognito Mode detection. Chrome will likewise work to remedy any other current or future means of Incognito Mode detection,” Google informed.

Google’s acknowledgment came after a new joint study from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pennsylvania that investigated 22,484 sex websites using a tool called “webXray” revealed that 93 per cent of pages track and leak users’ data to third-party organisations even during the “Incognito” mode.

Of non-pornography-specific services, Google tracks 74 per cent of sites, Oracle 24 per cent and Facebook 10 per cent.

Also Read: YouTube Fined in Millions Over Kids’ Data Privacy Breach

According to Google, the change will affect sites that use the “FileSystem API” to intercept “Incognito” mode sessions and require people to log in or switch to normal browsing mode,” on the assumption that these individuals are attempting to circumvent metered paywalls”.

“We suggest publishers monitor the effect of the ‘FileSystem API’ change before taking reactive measures since any impact on user behaviour may be different than expected and any change in meter strategy will impact all users, not just those using ‘Incognito’ mode,” Google explained. (IANS)

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Google Assistant to Send Reminders to Family, Friends

The new update would soon roll out in English in the US, the UK along with Australia and the feature would also be available on the Google Nest Hub Max when it becomes available next month

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The Google Assistant can now connect with more than 5,000 devices for your home -- up from 1,500 this January, Google has announced.
Google Voice Assistant. Pixabay

Google is adding a new feature to its Assistant that lets people send reminders to their friends and family on phones or Google Home devices.

The feature is designed mostly for families and it would function via the Family Group feature so that the parents can send reminders to their children or spouse and the reminder will pop up on the mobile phone or Google Assistant-powered Smart Display, The Verge reported on Thursday.

For children under 13 to use assignable reminders, they must be granted access to the Assistant on Google Home by adults in the household and all users could block someone from sending them Assignable Reminders.

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The read-aloud feature is particularly useful when users are driving, cooking or otherwise have their hands full.

In addition, users can also create a reminder for anyone who has their account linked to the same smart display or speaker.

Also Read: Instagram Users to Flag False Content on its Platform

The new update would soon roll out in English in the US, the UK along with Australia and the feature would also be available on the Google Nest Hub Max when it becomes available next month. (IANS)