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No. 48 Vol. 1Thu 17 August 2023Price: 0/0d

Announcing No-WEI!

pointing finger devlog >> Thu 17 August 2023 by Thran >> Last updated November 2023 >>

Why no WEI?

To quote Greg Farough of the Free Software Foundation:

"Before serving a web page, a server can ask a third-party "verification" service to make sure that the user's browsing environment has not been "tampered" with. A translation of the policy's terminology will help us here: this Google-owned server will be asked to make sure that the browser does not deviate in any way from Google's accepted browser configuration."

This means that the verification service controlled by Google can and will be used to exclude certain configurations of web browser from accessing websites that implement WEI. This will empower Google to refuse attestation to web browsers with advert blocking, web browsers on operating systems other than Windows/Apple/Android, users with stricter privacy preferences, web archiving services, competitors to Google, and anyone else their verification server deems invalid.

We can expect that such power entrusted with one corporation will be used to attack anything that goes against their chief business interest - namely advertising. The effect of this will be a significant detriment to the open web.

More details and commentary on WEI may be read here (OWD), here (FSF) and here (El Reg).

November 2023 Update - WEI has been retracted by Google!

As of November 2023, Google has announced that it will not be implementing WEI in its browser. Huzzah!

VICTORY (for now). It may not have been much, but this humble banner will have been part of that pressure against Google. Thanks to everyone who installed it!

We must remain vigilant, because due to Google's monopoly and business interests this 'feature' will surely reassert itself in another guise.

Due to this news, the NO-WEI banner will be reworked into a banner that protests the Google Privacy sandbox, which sends a list of your 'interests' to advertisers. This one is actually now live in Chrome. Classy.

What is No-WEI?

A simple JavaScript banner for your website. It informs Google Chrome wielding netizens of the coming abhorrent attack on their freedom and privacy from the rotten WEI (Web Environment Integrity) anti-feature.

The banner will only show for Chrome users. It will explain very briefly and politely why they should consider another browser. There is also a link to an online resource that informs of the dangers posed by WEI.

Finally, there is an option to hide the banner, with this preference stored in localstorage. This option may be switched off; that depends how strongly you feel. To switch off the dismissal option, set allowDismissal = false in no-wei.js.

An example of how the banner will appear may be seen here. This example has UA detection turned off, so will be seen by all browsers.

Installing

First download it here: >> No-WEI Stable (Master) <<

Simply include the JavaScript and CSS at the top of your HTML. See example.html in the archive for an example. The exact steps follow anyway:

Copy no-wei.css and no-wei.js to your web page assets directory, then include a link to both in all your HTML documents/templates between the <head> ... </head> tags.

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="$PATH_TO_CSS/no-wei.css">
<script type="text/javascript" src="$PATH_TO_JS/no-wei.js"></script>

This project is written in vanilla JavaScript and uses no dependencies (JQuery or anything).

User-Agent Detection

Currently a bit basic but the most obvious way I could make it work without relying upon dependencies. No-WEI's user agent detection simply checks the UA string for telling keywords and then deducts which browser is in use.

We currently show the banner only to Chrome. This may change; we could include other browsers when their position on WEI becomes clear. Currently, no concrete position on WEI has been given for Edge, Opera or Safari (though Safari uses its own equivalent PATs that are allegedly more private).

Vivaldi will usually send the same user agent as Chrome, sorry Vivaldi users, you'll get the banner too. This is also a problem with Brave.

Sample User-Agent sources used for this project; it is MDN's fault if I got any wrong ;)

GET IT (Download latest stable release)

>> Download No-WEI Stable (Master) or Visit Github repository.

From THRANSOFT

Further details and all my other software may be found at Thransoft.

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