The Choke of Invisibility

In today’s world, increasing privacy and security is generally a good thing for users. And no one takes privacy and security more seriously than Apple. Sometimes, though, an increase in privacy or security in one area or feature comes at a price: either complicating the end user experience, or breaking essential functionality of applications and services that are integral to a modern computing experience.

macOS Monterey 12.4 was released on Monday, May 16. It contains over 50 security fixes, and a number of important fixes for enterprise customers. This update also included Safari 15.5.

THE ISSUE

Almost immediately after updating, I noticed that some commonly-used websites were taking a very long time to load, or never finished at all. Others would appear to finish, but the “reload” button in the address bar continued to display an “x”, implying that an outstanding item was not yet loaded.

I decided to crack open the Web Inspector and start a Timeline Recording to see what was going on…

In the above image, you can see that most page resources have loaded, but two items remain outstanding…

The files spinning here are web open fonts aka WOFF2. These have been commonplace web design elements for at least a decade. Many websites license WOFF’s and load them remotely for convenience. In the above example, the US State Department is pulling them from Google.

Here is another example of a stalled resource @ http://www.yahoo.com:

This page is trying to load a very simple analytic tracker. If you load the URL directly in Safari 12.5, it loads without any issues. This one happens to be a 1×1 pixel, which is generally used for performance analytics to determine if a page loaded successfully. And, judging by the URL parameters, they are attempting to comply with GDPR by having a default value of gdpr=0, and the consent cookie gdpr_consent= has not yet been set.

I do not have iCloud Private Relay enabled on this Mac.

WORKAROUNDS

  1. Switch to another browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox, OR:
  2. In Safari, uncheck “Hide IP address from trackers” as shown below.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2022-05-18-at-2.11.28-pm.png

The problem will be resolved immediately after reloading your desired webpage.

Strangely, this privacy feature has been available in several revisions of Safari 15.x, but this is the first known occasion where the feature breaks a boat load of websites and must be disabled to resolve it.

Once you allow a website to load with “Hide” disabled, it will not revert to its original behavior until you clear all cookies or reset Safari.

I’ve opened Feedback with Apple. Please file & dupe:

FB10021550: Safari 15.5: “Hide IP address from trackers” breaks a wide range of websites.

STEPS TO REPRODUCE

  1. Ensure iCloud Private Relay is disabled.
  2. Open Safari.
  3. Go to Safari Preferences > Advanced > Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  4. Open a new tab in Safari.
  5. Click the ‘Develop’ menu > Show Web Inspector.
  6. Select ‘Timelines’ from the toolbar.
  7. Click the red ‘Record’ button.
  8. Enter the test URL and load the page.
  9. After 30 seconds, or when it becomes clear the page is stalled, click Stop.
  10. Export your Timeline Recording. The file is saved with a .json extension.
  11. Take note of the current date and time.
  12. Take a screenshot of the entire Safari window, making sure the address bar and the timeline recorder are plainly visible.

FILING FEEDBACK

  1. Open the Feedback Assistant app on your Mac, or visit https://feedbackassistant.apple.com
  2. Log in with your Apple ID:
    1. If you are a registered Developer, log in with that Apple ID.
    2. If you are a member of an IT department, log in with your Managed Apple ID associated with Apple Business Manager / School Manager.
    3. If you are a member of the public, log in with your personal Apple ID.
  3. Write a new feedback for MacOS.
    1. Write a descriptive title such as the one I provided above.
    2. Be sure to include the phrase “See FB10021550” somewhere near the top.
    3. Select “Safari” from the drop-down menu.
    4. Type of issue: “Application Slow / Unresponsive.”
    5. What does it involve: “Page Loading.”
    6. Copy and paste the URL for the affected website.
    7. List any extensions you have loaded in Safari.
    8. Answer “yes” for screen shot.
    9. Select “No” for iCloud Private Relay.
    10. Enter the approximate date & time you ran the test.
    11. Briefly describe the issue and the steps you took to reproduce.
  4. Generate and attach a sysdiagnose file.
    1. If you are using the MacOS app, a sysdiagnose was already generated for you.
    2. If you are submitting via the web site, click the (?) icon next to “macOS Sysdiagnose” for instructions on generating and collecting the sample.
  5. Submit your feedback.

Though you might not hear back from Apple, please know they route the feedback to developers for investigation. The more people pile on, the faster they get it fixed.

Thank you for reading!

The Choke of Invisibility

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