Home / Chrome / Chrome wants to kill browser user agent strings, cites compatibility and privacy concerns

Chrome wants to kill browser user agent strings, cites compatibility and privacy concerns

The consumer agent string is the a part of the browser that identifies itself to web sites. It tells websites the browser and browser model quantity you’re utilizing, in addition to restricted details about your machine. Nonetheless, it has develop into an ever-growing downside for each customers and builders over the previous decade, so Google desires to modify to one thing else.

In case you’re not acquainted with internet growth, browsers have constantly up to date their consumer agent strings to develop into longer, to take care of compatibility with web sites and reduce end-user impression. For instance, when Microsoft launched Web Explorer within the early 90’s, it added “Netscape” to its consumer agent string to make websites suppose it was the extra superior Netscape Navigator browser.

This back-and-forth has continued to this very day, with Chrome’s consumer agent string now containing references to “Mozilla” (Netscape’s codename), “AppleWebKit” (as a result of Chrome relies on Safari), “Safari,” “KHTML” (the engine Safari was based mostly on), and “Gecko” (Firefox’s rendering engine):

Mozilla/5.0 (Home windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/79.0.3945.117 Safari/537.36

Person brokers have develop into much more sophisticated within the trendy period of Chromium-based browsers. The brand new Microsoft Edge adjustments its consumer agent string for every website to keep away from being detected because the outdated Edge, whereas Vivaldi lately introduced it can now not embody its personal branding within the consumer agent to repair websites that block non-Chrome browsers. Person agent strings are additionally generally used to trace individuals as they transfer throughout web sites, in the identical vogue as third-party cookies.

Google’s new proposal is comprised of two elements. First, it desires to ‘freeze’ the consumer agent string, that means the contents will now not keep up-to-date (as eradicating it solely would trigger numerous web sites to stop working). Chrome 83, at present slated for launch in June, will freeze the browser and OS variations within the string. With Chrome 85, the plan is to make all desktop browsers use the same string, whereas doing the identical for cellular.

The second element is a alternative API, at present named ‘Person-Agent Shopper Hints.’ This may enable websites to detect many of the similar data that the consumer agent string offers, however in a extra standardized and privacy-protecting method. The precise limitations for accessing this data might be as much as every browser ⁠— for instance, a browser may block entry to 32-bit/64-bit data till you select to obtain an executable file.

The precise particulars of it will possible change over the subsequent few months, however with Safari and Firefox already , this could give nefarious web sites one much less avenue for monitoring you.

About Corbin Davenport

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