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Apple Safari private browsing mode is now a pretty good paywall blocker

The latest version of Apple’s Safari browser is enabling users to bypass paywall meters, making articles accessible when the usual limits on free views have expired.

The update to Safari’s Private Browsing mode, for mobile and desktop, is sure to incur the ire of the publishers dangling limited fee content in order to tempt premium subscriptions, Digiday reports.

However, just like Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode, Safari’s Private Browsing mode prevents websites from registering the number of times an individual visits the host URL.

Apple, like Google, made the move to protect web users from aggressive ad tracking, but it’s having the adverse effect for many publishers seeking to earn money from their content beyond the traditional advertising model.

With Google’s Incognito Mode, some publishers – including The Boston Globe – exploited a loophole to detect when it was in use and throw up the paywall that way, banning all browsing when the privacy-friendly tab in in use.

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It’s not certain whether the same loophole, which pertained to the FileSystem API, is available within Safari to enable publishers to do likewise.

Back in July, Google said it would use Chrome 76 to halt the practice from publishers. It also suggested sites could ask for logins to read all content, or be more generous with the free content.

It wrote: “People choose to browse the web privately for many reasons. Some wish to protect their privacy on shared or borrowed devices, or to exclude certain activities from their browsing histories. In situations such as political oppression or domestic abuse, people may have important safety reasons for concealing their web activity and their use of private browsing features.

“We want you to be able to access the web privately, with the assurance that your choice to do so is private as well. These principles are consistent with emerging web standards for private browsing modes.”

If more web browsing apps adopt a similar strategy it could see publishers choose to make their paywall applicable to all page visits, dropping the limited free articles completely.

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