In recent times Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Chrome browser has come under fire following its Manifest V3 plans. The plans announced at the beginning of this year result in some adblockers not working efficiently.
Web API to personalize user experience
Now there are concerns from privacy advocates regarding the getInstalledRelatedApps web API. The web API has been in development since 2015, and it started piloting in 2017 following the launch of Chrome 59.
The API described on GitHub lets developers determine whether there is an installed native app on one’s device. The API has benefits that will enhance one’s experience, especially when using native apps and web from the same developer installed on your device. Equally, it will potentially prevent the possibility of receiving similar notifications twice.
API could pose security and privacy risks
However, according to tech site The Register, the purpose of the web API is not about users as it is to app and web publishers. Security researcher Sean Wright warns that if the API is not handled properly, it could risk users’ privacy and security. He says that if done inappropriately, it could be prone to abuse that could affect the privacy and security of people.
These privacy concerns stem from the fact that the web API will allow the site to see the kind of apps users have installed in their devices. As a result of the sites seeing what you have installed, it will be easier to know what you do. This is a security risk because it will give attackers what they need to carry targeted phishing or help them attack vulnerable apps.
Google engineer Yoav Weiss also indicates that the collection answers to the “Is app X Installed” could make it easier to identify users. There is total disregard for security and privacy in software development with the main focus being functionality; Wright says that there should be a balance between functionality and privacy. But everything that happens usually puts the company interest first before the users.
Uses are fighting the changes affecting their privacy by looking for alternatives embracing privacy. Several Chrome users are now moving to Firefox as the browser of choice.