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    In this Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, photo, a woman carries a fire extinguisher past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai

    Google Vows to Plug Chrome Loophole That Allows Incognito Detection Amid Porn Tracking Scandal

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    The feature was introduced into Chrome months ago, but as an opt-in, a problematic task without advanced knowledge of the browser.

    Google promised to plug a loophole in the code of its Chrome browser that allows websites to check whether a user is browsing in Incognito mode – and oftimes demands that the user disables the mode to proceed.

    The upcoming update of the Google Chrome browser will reportedly prevent websites from knowing whether Incognito mode is activated, an Engadget report says. 

    This is likely to cause uproar among website publishers – especially major news editions offering a limited number of articles before a paywall is activated. Incognito mode is often used to evade these paywalls, as it resets the counter of articles that have been read. As a countermeasure, websites routinely deny entry to users browsing in Incognito mode.

    While the tech giant acknowledged that the system can be abused, it maintained that incognito browsing can be used for more serious reasons, such as avoiding surveillance or oppression, or avoiding an abusive partner attempting to rummage through browsing history.

    “Google suggested that publishers avoid knee-jerk reactions to the Chrome change and instead consider either more "generous" free view allowances or requiring a free registration for all content, not just under certain articles or conditions,” according to Engadget.

    What Google has promised is not an entirely new feature. A workaround to prevent websites from detecting Incognito mode was introduced in Chrome in April, although it required a user to manually access a “flags” page and enable an option called “Enable Filesystem API in Incognito.” 

    In the new update, this tweak will be enabled by default. According to Engadget, Google will implement other measures to prevent websites from detecting Incognito mode.

    The announcement comes in the wake of a report that revealed how Google, Facebook and Oracle were able to track users as they browsed porn sites. A whopping 93 percent of the over 22,000 porn websites surveyed in the report were found to leak data to third parties. Google rebuffed the report, claiming it does not allow Google ads on adult content websites.

    “We don’t allow Google Ads on websites with adult content and we prohibit personalized advertising and advertising profiles based on a user’s sexual interests or related activities online,” a Google spokesperson told the The New York Times. “Additionally, tags for our ad services are never allowed to transmit personally identifiable information.”

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