[webkit-dev] Network Information API reboot: request for early feedback

Ryosuke Niwa rniwa at webkit.org
Mon Aug 30 02:06:26 PDT 2021

On Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 1:17 AM Thomas Steiner <tomac at google.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Aug 29, 2021 at 1:00 AM Ryosuke Niwa <rniwa at webkit.org> wrote:
>> I don't think exposing the information about whether the connection is
>> metered or not is acceptable from the privacy standpoint. Based on the IP
>> address of a user & this metered status, a website may even be able to tell
>> what kind of carrier plan a given user is in.
> Thanks for the reply, Ryosuke! Just to clarify, the `metered` attribute
> would be a manual user setting, not a browser heuristic. This means you
> could easily mark your all-data included WiFi at home as metered if you
> wanted to, or, on the opposite end, mark your roaming data plan you
> purchased for a ton of money at the airport as unmetered. None of this
> happens without the user voluntarily revealing the information.

I don't think it's fair to characterize any given user telling the OS to
reduce the data usage as a consent to be profiled by random websites. I
would certainly not expect such information to be exposed to ad trackers
and alike. You could make the same argument for turning on low power mode
but battery level being low or having low power mode turned on may reveal
the user's socioeconomic status or user's immediate need to take
certain actions. It can lead to egregious consequences like this:
I definitely would not want to be seeing ads promoting new SIM cards or ads
for a cafe with free WiFi service nearby just because I requested my phone
to reduce data usage.

- R. Niwa
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