Does browser private mode share the GeoLocation information ?

GeoLocation information’s can be queried using JavaScript API. This information is related to the privacy of the user so User Agents ask user permission to share the information. There are few permission differences and visual differences between various browser vendors. You can read that in my previous blog (GeoLocation API differences). In this post we will answer two question about GeoLocation API.

1) Lets assume that you have given GeoLocation API usage permission to a website say “WebsiteA” in normal browsing mode. Does this permission hold true in “Private Browsing” mode ?
2) Let’s assume you want to use a service provided by a website say “WebsiteB” but you like to share the Geolocation information without sharing other privacy related information. So your natural choice is “Private Browsing Mode”. You gave GeoLocation permission to websiteB in “Private Browsing” mode. Does this permission holds true in “Normal Browsing” mode ?

Answer to both the question is YES. Existing permission information’s are shared between browser modes. API permission given to a website in “Normal browsing” mode also holds true in “Private Browsing” mode too. This is the common working condition of both Chrome and Safari “Private Browsing” Mode. Except GeoLocation API permission list, most other permission list cannot be modified from “Private Browsing” mode. Let’s see how it works.

Question 1

Existing GeoLocation API permission list can be accessed using this link.  chrome://settings/contentExceptions#location

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If i access a website that uses GeoLocation API then browser ask for user permission. (I am using Normal Browsing context)

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Let’s assume you have given permission to this website and that gets stored in the permission list.

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Now if you visit the same website in Chrome incognito mode then this website can use the existing given permission.

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Whatever permission given in “Normal Browsing” context holds true in “Private Browsing” mode too. Yes this may be good for some other features but not for GeoLocation API.

Question 2

After my test for Question1 i have cleared off my permission list.

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Now, i am going to use Chrome incognito mode to access a website that requires GeoLocation API information.

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Yes it asks for user permission to query the GeoLocation information. What a privacy savvy usually think is, this private browsing mode will not affect his/her “Normal Browsing” mode. But what is happening here is, once you have given the permission in “Private Browsing” mode that gets stored in the configuration and that permission holds true in “Normal Browsing” mode also. Let’s access this website from Normal Browsing mode.

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You can see the given permission in the chrome://settings/contentExceptions#location

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Summary

1. Permissions given in “Normal Browsing” mode holds true in “Private Browsing” mode too.
2. For most of the JavaScript API’s permission cannot be given from “Private Browsing” mode except for “GeoLocation” API.
3. GeoLocation information can be queried by the “Private Browsing” mode too if permission is given to share it.

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