Update on browser standards

About a year ago we warned about the issues of the Chromium/Blink web rendering engine and how Google is essentially dictating the direction of web technology to their advantage.


It now appears via multiple sources that this is becoming that case at least for their direct web services.


The short take on the story is that a lot of free software browsers, some of which happen to have provided the technology base of Chrome, are now being denied access under the guise of 'security'. While these browsers combined usage makes up less than 0.1% of Internet traffic, that Google has gone out of the way to deny the users access is a dangerous precident. To make matters worse, if you make these browsers report to Google that they are 'Google Chrome' - Googles own proprietary browser, then these sites work as intended making the whole idea look more preposterous.

While this warning has not been seen universally by users and it appears to be in the trail stage, this is a very worrying for the free and open internet and the software that we use on it. Essentially the software maker, being Google, is able to dictate what people can use online using their software platform and online websites.

Google has now made a few actions that are determined to control how the internet is used for their own gain.

Chrome is designed to dictate the technology base that people have to use, by having technology that can only be rendered properly by their browser, this sets the standards by which most web developers will aim to hit. This is to the detriment of anyone using non-google technology.

It may be small user base browsers today, in future it might be things like Firefox and eventually all non-Chrome browsers - even ones that use the same 'open-source' code base. This is the situation we found the internet in at the end of the last decade with Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominating how internet technology would be shaped. It took the efforts of Mozilla and the Firefox project to finally break free from this situation.

Google is also directly dictating to web content providers to use their systems such as AMP technology so that run websites on their servers, making them load faster than they typically would and this is enhanced when using their browsers so that any competition looks bad by comparison.

Google uses many other techniques but these main ones are used to direct you into Googles profit machine at the expense of your choice of software and thus your privacy.

Over the last few years it has become apparent that more web browser technology is being dictated down from Google and less about letting technology find its own place via dis-census. That is, it is being designed rather than evolving. Technology is being used to squeeze out competition and free software based browsers are clearly being targeted. Google has misused API's to make performance run slowly on other browsers, dictated how DRM should be implemented online so that others cannot support the same standards and in general just made a technology target that favors it over other agreed standards.

The best solution to a problem is to prevent the problem in the first place. While we do not have much influence over standards committees, that doesn't mean you are powerless. This means having to avoid using these controlling technologies and to support those that have your back covered. By supporting free software and open standards that is what you are doing. Every time you use a Free-software browser and a website doesn't work properly, let the sites admin know about it. If they don't want to fix it - don't use it. You are better off not being forced into a compromised position.

In the coming decade this will only get worse. With the increasing profit needs of Google, increasing operations costs, decline in return on computer hardware improvements, ever increasing demand so of users and the apathy of those same users that makes them accept these changes with little questioning, we are slowly walking down a road that is very difficult to recover from. It took almost a decade to turn it around last time with Firefox and that was through the arrogance of Microsoft not keeping their eye on the ball and assuming that they could never fall. This time it may not be possible as it is a very deliberate and targeted attack on users choices. If we don't try to fight this then we have lost already. If we wait until it is unbearable, it will be near impossible to overcome in any meaningful way.

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