Soon, websites won't be able to detect Chrome's Incognito mode
After a long wait, Google is working on a way to ensure that websites, particularly those with paywalls, aren't able to detect its Incognito mode. The move will make private web surfing more seamless for users and prevent sites from blocking them if they're on Incognito and shielded from tracking. Here is more on Google's plan.
With Incognito, Google delivers a private browsing experience, where you're logged out of services, no history is recorded, and cookies and other local data is cleared after every session. However, the feature has long had a loophole - an API that has to be disabled while running Incognito. Using it allowed web developers to know when Incognito is running and when it's not.
The API in question is called FileSystem and it's responsible for allowing websites to create virtual file systems for reading and writing local data. If not disabled during an Incognito session, the API could create permanent files, compromising the whole purpose of the feature.
Though Google maintains power of Incognito by disabling the API, its move allows many websites to detect Incognito usage and block users whose web activity cannot be tracked. This is something that the company is planning to change by modifying FileSystem API. According to some commits to Chromium Gerrit, Google is changing the API to work in Incognito by storing files in RAM.
With this move, the files created in the Incognito mode will be erased as soon as you close the session and it will be impossible for websites to detect the mode. According to an internal document seen by 9To5Google, the search giant hopes the technique will reduce the usage of this API, ultimately allowing it to deprecate and remove it for good.
The developer responsible for the way to prevent Incognito detection says the changes are expected to come in Chrome 74 in the form of a flag. Meaning, you'll have to enable the feature manually in Chrome unless it becomes a default option in later versions. Those using Canary versions of the browser should see the flag in the coming days.