Google reportedly blocking some Linux-specific web browsers from signing in to Google Account

When most people think of web browsers, the usual suspects come to mind — Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, etc. — but over the history of the internet, far more browsers have been created. Recently, people who use some Linux-specific browsers, including Falkon, reportedly found themselves blocked from logging in to their Google Accounts, preventing the use of services like Gmail.

According to a post on Reddit, via BleepingComputer, Google may be experimenting with blocking certain browsers from logging into a Google Account. The block seems to only happen to certain users of those browsers, pointing to either an experiment on Google’s part or possibly a Google Account setting. Those affected are treated to a new error message when attempting to log in.

This browser or app may not be secure. Learn more

Try using a different browser. If you’re already using a supported browser, you can refresh your screen and try again to sign in.

The affected browsers — Konqueror, Falkon, and Qutebrowser — are all niche programs used by a subset of the Linux community. Konqueror and Falkon are both developed by volunteers as parts of a suite of KDE Applications, while QuteBrowser is an independent browser developed for those who prefer to navigate their computer solely with the keyboard.

Image: BleepingComputer

The common denominator between the three browsers is their underlying use of Qt WebEngine, which takes the core parts of the Chromium browser and gives them a wrapper for developers to create their own vision of how a web browser should look. Unlike most Chromium-based browsers that update at a similar pace to Google Chrome, Qt WebEngine relies on Qt being updated to receive the latest Chromium.

With a bit of trial and error, users have been able to bypass the error and log in to their Google Accounts as normal by simply disguising their browser as Firefox by changing the browser’s user agent. That being the case, the block seems to be unrelated to a lack of any particular features.

Some have suggested that it may be related to protecting accounts from bot attacks by limiting the sorts of browsers allowed to sign in. Google themselves have not yet explained why these niche browsers are being blocked.

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