Google Chrome Idle Detection API could be a Privacy and Security concern: Here’s how to disable the feature in latest version of web browser

Google Chrome Idle Detection API Disable Switch Off
Turn off Idle Detection API in Chrome v94. Pic credit: Elliott Brown/Flickr

Among the several new beneficial and useful features in Chrome v94, Google has offered two concerning developer-facing APIs. They could be a risk to security and privacy. There is, however, a way to turn of the ‘Idle Detection’ API.

Google released the Chrome v94 to the general public. Among several new and useful features, the search giant has also included two APIs, one of which is ‘Idle Detection’. Apple and Mozilla have already called out Google for introducing the same.

Google Chrome v94 has APIs that could help some websites steal resources and offer more information about other user devices:

Google Chrome version 94 has now entered the ‘Stable’ channel. The latest version of the popular web browser has already started rolling out as an OTA Update.

The Chrome v94 contains the ‘Idle Detection’ API. The API (Application Programing Interface) essentially allows developers of websites, web apps, and online services to know when a user is idle or is not engaging with the website, app, or digital platform.

Mozilla, the maker of Firefox web browser, claims malicious sites could utilize the API to utilize the device’s compute resources without the user consenting or knowing about it.

The second concerning API offers a new developer-side notification for global signals such as interaction with other apps instead of only the current browser window. Needless to add, web developers will now have an even better indication about the others apps and services users are interacting with.

How to switch off Idle Detection in the latest version of Chrome web browser?

As mentioned above, the Idle Detection API allows websites to detect when users are not actively using the device. The Chrome development team reportedly insists the API will be useful for chat applications to deliver timely notifications to users.

There are some valid situations or reasons to keep the Idle Detection active. However, except for Chat notifications, individual users with personal devices, may not have much use of the same.

In case users do not want any website to know if they are actively using the digital platform or not, they should switch off Idle Detection inside Google Chrome v94.

Interestingly, Google doesn’t seem to offer any easy-to-reach setting within the Chrome web browser to switch off Idle Detection. But users can copy-paste a simple line inside the browser to bring up the exact setting.

To switch off the Idle Detection API, launch Chrome and enter the following line in the address bar:

chrome://settings/content/idleDetection

Under the Default behavior, select: “Don’t allow sites to know when you’re actively using your device

The current setting is set to “Sites can ask to know when you’re actively using your device.” by default.

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