Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Improvements to Tracking Prevention in Safari 13.1 on MacOS, and Safari on iOS and iPadOS 13.4

Reading through these release notes indicate the many ways providers of analytics and tracking scripts attempt to evade the restrictions of Intelligent Tracking Prevention. It is an arrogant and disrespectful practice — an assumption that the browsers that default to allowing tracking everywhere are correct, and that browsers that choose different defaults are wrong. It is, after all, an option in Safari: users who want to allow cross-site tracking can disable ITP.

John Wilander of Apple’s WebKit team provides just one example:

Some trackers have started to delay their navigational redirects, probably to evade ITP’s bounce tracking detection. This manifests as the webpage disappearing and reloading shortly after you land on it. We’ve added logic to cover such delayed bounce tracking and detect them just like instant bounces.

The workaround that these trackers invented is detrimental to users’ browsing experience — nobody wants a page to load twice — all just to make it a little bit easier to track users across the web against their will.

The only comparison I can think of, in terms of software that is constantly changed to fight against attempts to detect and eradicate it, is malware.