Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Declined to Implement Sixteen New Web APIs in Safari Due to Privacy Concerns

Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet:

Over the past three years, user fingerprinting has become the standard method of tracking users in the online ad tech market.

The shift to user fingerprinting comes as browser makers have been deploying anti-tracking features that have limited the capabilities and reach of third-party (tracking) cookies.

Some browser makers have also been deploying countermeasures to prevent fingerprinting operations through the most common methods — such as fonts, HTML5 canvas, and WebGL — but not all user fingerprinting vectors are currently blocked.

Furthermore, new ones are constantly being created as browser makers add new Web APIs to their code.

Currently, Apple has identified the 16 Web APIs above as some of the worst offenders; however, the browser maker said that if any of these new technologies “reduce fingerprintability down the road” it would reconsider adding it to Safari.

If I were supreme dictator of the world wide web, I would reject many of these APIs on scope grounds alone. I get why it would be nice to read NFC tags, but APIs for stuff like device memory, network information, ambient light conditions, USB, and generic serial interfaces are not APIs for websites. They increase the capabilities of web apps — a unique category of mediocre applications that make the web worse.