Chrome 84 Will Beat Back Abusive Permissions Requests, Notifications

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Google is now working to stifle abusive permissions requests from Chrome 84, specifically those with abusive notifications, recent reports indicate. As laid out by Google, sites with abusive permission requests or abusive notifications will be automatically enrolled in quieter notifications UI.

Now, "abusive notifications" is a fairly loose term. The company says it can include abuse of built-in notifications or custom notifications. But, summarily, it includes those that mislead users, phish for private information, and promote malware. The abuses fall into two categories — "permission request issues" and "notification issues."

On the former type of issue, Google says that those are "requests designed to mislead, trick, or force users into allowing notifications."

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Permission request issues is a broad category that includes sites that require permissions to be granted in order to access a site. Conversely, it can also include those that are preceded by other prompts deemed to be misleading.

Notification issues can include fake messages, warnings, or system dialogs. That encompasses phishing attacks used to trick users into entering personal private information. But it also includes malware notifications — promoting or linking over to bad software.

What does the new UI look like?

The update is set to release on July 14 for desktop platforms. Chrome OS typically follows a week or two behind. After the update, users will be notified via Quieter UI-style prompts that the site is being abusive. The goal is to discourage allowing any permissions on the site.

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That takes two separate forms too, just as standard Quieter UI notifications do. On mobile, Chrome will present users with a dialog that says notifications have been blocked. That's accompanied by a slashed-out bell icon. A details link and an "x" to close the pop-up will be clearly visible too. Clicking "Details" will inform users that the site has been blocked because of its bad behavior and provides some insight into that action.

On desktops, similar information is portrayed from the start — after users click a slashed-out bell icon in the URL Omnibox. Chrome prompts users to allow notifications or continue the blocking measure.

Don't expect full protection from notification permissions requests in Chrome 84

Now, for the time being, this change isn't going to impact every site for every user. Instead, Google is looking to effectively test-run this feature to block 'new' abuses of permissions request notifications starting in Chrome 84. Users who have already allowed notifications that are used as defined above won't see changes on those websites. It will only apply when a new site is visited with abusive notifications.

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In the future, Google is aiming to rectify that discrepancy but it isn't settled on the matter yet. If the search giant does enable the change in the future, it's also not immediately clear what form that will take. The company may disable notifications from those sites entirely, effectively resetting the permissions.

That's a tactic it took with its Quieter UI notifications, to begin with. In effect, it put the focus on sites' bad behavior and requiring users to activate notifications again if they wanted to. So it would make sense for Google to go that route again. But it remains to be seen if it will.