battery status impact on privacy

Your battery status can have an unexpected impact on your privacy

The remaining battery power on your smartphone may reveal your location to websites, concerning privacy-conscious web users. This occurs from a simple HTML web script that repeatedly monitors the status of identifiers and obtains information from the Battery Status API.

It started with good intentions..

Battery Status API was initially proposed by the web standards organization, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to allow websites to serve low-power versions of their site to users with little battery capacity left. For example, a website could download less content, or a video streaming site could disable autoplay.

However, as Battery Status API indicates the battery status of a device with an exactitude of up to six decimals, two security researchers from Princeton University speculate that tracking scripts is also being used to “fingerprint” specific devices.

Researchers have determined that these two figures can be combined to provide a semi-unique identifier which can be used to track devices between websites they visit. According to the researchers, there are 14 million different combinations of battery life as a percentage and remaining time.

– The Next Web

Your battery status is a form of digital fingerprinting that can track your unique identity online. In a world of infinite digital connectivity, there are more cases of hacking, identity theft, and cyber bullying on the rise. Although originally well-intended, the Battery Status API can no longer be trusted as a feature that “helps” users. 

What can I do?

Internet users are urged to choose browsers that have removed the Battery Status API from the browser’s code. While some browsers, such as UR, have removed this due to privacy concerns, many have not yet taken this step.


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