Battery status indicators used to track user behavior

Researchers spot privacy concerns in APIs that share battery levels with site owners.
Researchers spot privacy concerns in APIs that share battery levels with site owners.

A battery status API, intended to allow site owners to serve low-power versions of sites and web apps, is being used to track user behavior.

Introduced in HTML 5, the API allows site owners to see a device's battery percentage and the time it would take to charge said device to prevent the execution of intensive operations if a user's battery was low, security and privacy technology researcher Lukasz Olejnik said in an Aug. 1 blog post.

Olejnik said the tracker could be used to collect behavior analytics, identify users in otherwise identical computer installations, record how often a user's device is under heavy use, and in some cases identify a user's battery capacity.

The information potentially could be monetized as people may be prone to pay more for a service if their battery levels are low, the blog said. 

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