Upcoming Browser Changes and Scholarly Publishing
Date: April 26, 2023
All of the major browser makers (Google, Mozilla, Apple) are working to introduce features that prevent tracking of users across the web, for example, from one web domain to another. These changes are largely being made to combat advertising tracking, but many of the techniques used for tracking across sites are indistinguishable from those used to maintain login information for users of scholarly resources. Most significantly, browsers will soon:
- Hide local IP addresses at the browser level
- Remove support for Link Decoration in URLs
- Block third-party cookies and local browser storage
In order to support the social media log-ins that the browser vendors are used to, they are moving to a new system, called Federated Credential Management (FedCM). SeamlessAccess - and through them, NISO - is advocating for support for the thousands of scholarly resource providers and contributing their expertise to make FedCM work for all of our scholarly resource needs.
Changes at the browser level are expected to start rolling out to users later this year, although the early stages are beginning to show up in Canary versions of Chrome now. Each of these changes will occur on their own timelines, however, and it will be several years before all changes will be seen by end users.
How to stay informed
Both REFEDS (https://wiki.refeds.org/display/GROUPS/Browser+Changes+and+Federation) and the W3C (https://www.w3.org/groups/cg/fed-id) have groups working on these issues. The W3C working group is in the process right now of deciding on development direction for FedCM, and many scholarly publishing community members are involved in the process, including NISO, STM, OCLC, and more.
SeamlessAccess will also work to keep the community informed about these changes by continuing to update their FAQ for Libraries and their FAQ for Publishers, as well as continue to produce presentations like “Change ahead! How a new web standard will change access to online scholarly resources” from early in April. The ALA Core Federated Authentication Committee will also continue to update in ALA Connect.