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Websites can track you using your smartphone or tablet's battery

Let's say you're using private browsing or incognito mode. Cookies are disabled, which means sites shouldn't be able to track your activity online. According to a report from four French and Belgian security researchers, that's not exactly the case.

A secret tool hidden in HTML5 lets a site identify your device by tracking your battery life.

The coding tool allows a site to recognize your gadget by the amount of battery life left and track the activity on it, even after it leaves the site. The battery life tracking process only allows for short-time tracking, but should it work like that at all?

The idea behind the HTML5 coding that tracks users through battery life came from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C, the organization that Web development standards) all the way back in 2012.

The coding tool was supposed to be used to recognize when a user's battery was low, and if it was, the website that the user was visiting would switch to a low-power mode. And according to the W3C, “the information disclosed has minimal impact on privacy or fingerprinting, and therefore is exposed without permission grant."

So this means that since it wasn't deemed a security risk, the organization moved on to more pressing matters - leaving the possibility of short-range tracking up in the air.

Firefox, Opera and Chrome browsers all have this HTML5 tool, which means that even if you're surfing in private or incognito modes, you still could be tracked.

There's not really much that you can do about this just yet, but we'll let you know if any patches or updates are released on the Happening Now page.

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