Google Will Not Restrict Information In Chrome User Agent Until Next Year


Google will only limit the information that Chrome sends via the user agent next year, the tech company says. The user agent string that is sent with every http request contains information such as the user's operating system, browser used and version number, device model and underlying architecture. The combination of these parameters and the large number of possible values ​​ensures that internet users can only be identified by their User-Agent. Something that can be tested via the website AmIUnique.org .


Google also states that the user agent makes fingerprinting of users possible. In addition, it can cause compatibility problems when browsers pass incorrect information via the user agent. Something that, according to Google, is mainly the case with smaller browsers. Early last year , Google announced the plan to the information provided by the user agent limit . Websites will then no longer see which specific browser version or operating system someone is using.


Soon it will only be displayed that it concerns, for example, an Android, macOS or Windows user who uses Chrome 93, whereby the specific version number will no longer be sent. This way, websites can still see that it is a mobile or desktop user and which browser and operating system he is using. When more information is required, Google points to the use of user-agent client hints.


This solution provides access to the same information as the normal user agent, but in a privacy-friendly way that prevents the browser from broadcasting everything by default, according to the inventors. Google originally planned to implement the restrictions last year, but decided not to do so due to the corona pandemic.


Today the tech company reports that it plans to phase out the user agent in phases. However, in order to give developers and the web ecosystem sufficient time to respond to this, it has been decided that the user agent of the release version of Chrome will not be adjusted this year. The exact phase-out will be announced later. Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox have already implemented user agent restrictions.

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