Apple has rolled out a significant update to its Safari web browser, reinforcing privacy facilities in a bid to combat cross-site tracking and outstrip rival offerings.
Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which in previous versions gave users the option to prevent advertisers monitoring browsing activity, will now block all third-party cookies by default.
The update also contains measures to prevent websites using login credentials to fingerprint user activity and to disable a variety of cyberattack known as cross-site request forgery.
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The new features are live in Safari for macOS 10.15.4 and iOS/iPadOS 13.4.
Private web browsing
In January, Google announced its popular Chrome web browser is also phasing out third-party cookies (opens in new tab). However, the feature is currently only available in experimental builds and won’t appear in stable versions until 2022, placing Safari streets ahead.
In a blog post announcing the update, Apple WebKit Security Engineer John Wilander celebrated the company's zero-tolerance policy with respect to cross-site tracking.
“This is a significant improvement for privacy since it removes any sense of exceptions or ‘a little bit of cross-site tracking is allowed’,” he said.
“Safari continues to pave the way for privacy on the web, this time as the first mainstream browser to fully block third-party cookies by default. As far as we know, only the Tor Browser has featured full third-party cookie blocking before Safari.”
Apple hopes the update has paved the way for other browser providers to introduce equivalent pro-privacy measures.
“We will report on our experiences of full third-party cookie blocking to the privacy groups in W3C to help other browsers take the leap,” added Wilander.
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Via The Verge (opens in new tab)