Google browser: Chrome developers want to freeze and replace user agents


The so-called user-agent string can be used so that web servers can recognize the type of client they are communicating with in order to adapt the display of content. However, the technology is outdated, contains misleading information and can be used for fingerprinting, i.e. the recognition of individual users. This is one of the reasons why the developers of Google’s Chrome browser want to freeze the user agent and replace it in the long term.

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This comes from an email from Chrome developers, in which they present their plans. Although the use should not be completely abolished, it is also no longer to be developed further, so that technology is likely to lose importance in the long term.

As an alternative to the legitimate uses of the user agent, the developers already proposed the user agent client hints (UA-CH) last autumn. Like the string, the UA-CH should also be available via HTTP request headers and an API.

With the new technology, only information such as the browser name, version number, the operating system and the CPU architecture should be transmitted. Information that was previously available, but no longer really meaningful, such as Mozilla / 5.0. like gecko or like KHTML should be completely eliminated.

The Chrome developers want to implement the changes up to version 85, which should appear in mid-September 2020. In principle, the initiative is also supported by both Firefox developers and by the developers of the Edge browser from Microsoft. Have as well the Safari developers have experimented with in the pastto freeze the user agent. Due to this broad support, it can be assumed that the previous use of the user agent will be prevented by the browser in the medium term.

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