Google Chrome 80 Brings New Privacy Concerns

The Google Chrome latest update, Chrome 80, has raised red flags regarding a possible fundamental privacy concern.  The new feature we are talking about is ScrollToTextFragment and is part of the Google Chrome 80.

The function allows profound connections to web docs. It will enable you to link a single word of text and its position on the page by using it.

Google Chrome 80 Raises Privacy Concerns

Google was already doing this in the past; however, with ScrollToTextFragment, you can do even more as it doesn’t require an anchor. In the past, the anchor was created by the site owner; but now, with ScrollToTextFragment, anyone can create an anchor. Anyone can link to a specific piece of text within a document.

Here’s how Google explains ScrollToTextFragment: it “will allow the link-creator to specify which portion of the page is interesting, without relying on author annotations.”

“For example, the URL: [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat#:~:text=On islands, birds can contribute as much as 60% of a cat’s diet]. This loads the page for Cat highlights the specified text and scrolls directly to it.”

The possible downside of ScrollToTextFragment

Although this new feature looks very helpful, it raises questions regarding the privacy and here’s why: “Consider a situation where I can view DNS traffic (e.g., company network), and I send a link to the company health portal, with [the anchor] #:~:text=cancer. On certain page layouts, I might be able [to] tell if the employee has cancer by looking for lower-on-the-page resources being requested,” said Peter Snyder, a privacy researcher at Brave Browser.

“My high-level opinion here is that this a really valuable feature, but it might also be one where all of the possible solutions have major issues/problems. So I think the question we should think about is how the problems of the solution chosen here compare to the problems of other options and how they compare to the value of the feature,” stated Mozilla’s David Baron.

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