Google faces criticism over proposed Web Environment Integrity API

Technology |  IANS  | Published :

San Francisco, July 31 (IANS) Google has received criticism from Internet software developers over the Web Environment Integrity (WEI) API on Chrome, arguing that the proposed standard restricts user freedom and undermines the core principles of the open web.

Employees from web browsers Vivaldi, Brave, and Firefox have taken a stance against Google’s WEI proposal, with some comparing it to digital rights management (DRM) for websites, reports BleepingComputer.

WEI is a new API proposal that introduces a trust mechanism for websites that will allow them to verify the authenticity of clients (browsers) and block insecure or fake interactions. This mechanism, for instance, can be used to determine whether a website is being visited by a human or a bot, or whether a particular browser on a specific type of device is trustworthy.

The WEI proposal's stated goal is to assist websites in determining the authenticity of the device and software stack from which they are receiving traffic and to protect users from fraud by discouraging malicious online activities, the report said.

Last week, J. Picalausa, the developer of the Vivaldi browser, called WEI "dangerous".

"If an entity has the power of deciding which browsers are trusted and which are not, there is no guarantee that they will trust any given browser," Picalausa was quoted as saying.

"Any new browser would by default not be trusted until they have somehow demonstrated that they are trustworthy, to the discretion of the attesters," he added.

The Brave browser team, on the other hand, is unconcerned about this scenario, as its co-founder and CEO, Brendan Eich, confirmed that they do not intend to ship WEI.

Moreover, Firefox engineer Brian Grinstead commented last week that Mozilla opposes the proposal as it contradicts its principles and vision for the web.

Currently, Google's WEI API proposal is in its early development stage and could undergo significant changes if all stakeholders agree to implement it.

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