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InfoQ Homepage News The Vivaldi Browser Improves Privacy Protection for Android Users

The Vivaldi Browser Improves Privacy Protection for Android Users

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The Vivaldi web browser recently shipped with enhanced privacy protection for Android users. The new Vivaldi 3.5 will protect users against the leaking of their real IP address when using the WebRTC communication protocol in chat applications (e.g., Discord, Skype for Web, Google Hangouts). This closes another hole allowing users to be tracked online by websites and third parties. Vivaldi 3.5 also allows mobile users to clear their browsing data when exiting the browser.

Vivaldi Technologies recently released Vivaldi 3.5 for Android users with new tracking protection and privacy options. Vivaldi 3.5 is available for smartphones and tablets (Android >= 5) and up-to-date Chromebooks.

The release detailed the new tracking protection feature as follows:

[WebRTC] leaks users’ IP address to websites when using a VPN. If users don’t want to leave any fingerprints on the web, they can turn off broadcasting their IP address. All other parts of WebRTC will continue to function.

Vivaldi on Android’s default behavior is nonetheless to leave WebRTC’s IP Broadcast enabled for performance purposes. Users may optionally disable it to remain anonymous when using private VPNs or services that they do not trust.

Former desktop versions of Vivaldi already implemented the privacy feature. Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate and VPN expert, explained in a detailed article the caveats related to preventing WebRTC IP leaks across browsers and platforms. Bischoff wrote:

In the latest version of Chrome for Android (tested with 8.1.0 Oreo), it is not currently possible to completely disable WebRTC. Many other tutorials on this subject instruct users to disable WebRTC Stun origin header in the flags menu, but in our experience, this does not work. Even if we disable every WebRTC-related setting, our real IP address leaks.

Bischoff further provided a screenshot illustrating the leak:

webrtc leak
(Source: comparitech blog post)

Vivaldi 3.5 additionally allows mobile users to delete their browsing data (browsing history, cookies and site data, cached images and files, and more) automatically when they exit the browser. While the feature has already been implemented for desktop users across the board, some browsers only let mobile users manually erase their browsing data. An article posted in July this year mentioned this about the Chrome browser on mobile devices:

Unfortunately, there is no way to auto-erase browsing history on the Google Chrome mobile app. This is because the Google Chrome mobile app does not support web extensions. This means that for an app to be able to clear browsing history, it would have to access your browsing data. Unfortunately, Google does not currently have any such app.

Vivaldi 3.5 additionally adds the ability to sort notes and bookmarks. The full release notes are available online.

The Vivaldi browser was created five years ago by a team of developers who previously worked on the Opera browser. The Opera browser had in its heyday a cult following among power users due to its extensive customization abilities, and innovative browsing features. Vivaldi Technologies, which develops the Vivaldi browser, is owned by its employees. Vivaldi describes its mission as building a browser that is powerful, personal, and flexible; a browser that adapts to you, not the other way around.

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