Your smartphone's battery life can be used to track you

You may want to reconsider all those “private” searches you’ve been doing in the incognito mode of your phone’s browser.

Security researchers are sounding the alarm that websites can easily track you any time by using specific data collected about the battery in your mobile devices.

There’s a feature on HTML5, the standard web programming language, that enables websites to know information about the battery in your laptop or smartphone, security researchers claim in a new paper that was first reported by The Guardian.

The feature, called the Battery Status API, allows websites to check your battery levels so precisely that websites can basically create a unique fingerprint for each device to track your surfing activity.

The Battery Status API collects the level, voltage, charging time, and discharging time. The data is so precise that the API is able to track down to the second how long it would take for your phone to run out of battery.

By combining all of this information, it’s enough to determine a specific user even when you are surfing in privacy mode.

Three browsers support the API as of June including Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.

So why is any of this information available to begin with? Well, according to the security researchers recently published white paper websites use your battery data to switch between energy-saving or high-performing modes. Of course, all of this happens without the user’s knowledge or consent.

“The API does not require user permission to read the battery information, any website or third-party scripts included on them, can use the API. The API also does not require browsers to notify users when the battery information is accessed. That allows website and third-party scripts to access the battery information transparently – without users’ awareness,” the paper states.

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