Revamp of Google Chrome web browser risks new European Union scrutiny

28 September, 2018, 02:15 | Author: Leah Owens
  • Google secretly logs users into Chrome whenever they log into a Google site

Google's surprise change to a privacy setting in Chrome, the web's No. 1 browser, is raising hackles from privacy advocates and some users of the product who say that the company has not been upfront enough. Google, naturally, wants as much data as possible: Its parent company, Alphabet, is one of the world's biggest advertisers, and it got and remains that way by eking as much value from its users' data as possible.

From now on, every time you log into a Google property (for example, Gmail), Chrome will automatically sign the browser into your Google account for you.

By being logged in, Chrome users could unwittingly send their browser data to Google, according to Green.

"Developers built this browser on Chromium, an open-source project that also serves as the basis of Chrome, so you might notice some similarities with the look and feel of that app", the publication wrote in praise of courageous.

"I use a Mac, but was using Chrome for a few websites that didn't work very well on Safari", wrote one user, calling it a "Forced Login Policy". While it is important to note that what frightened users the most - the slurping of browser history - won't start automatically, the problem is that even if a user has happily been using Chrome throughout its 10-year life while declining the offer to sign in, that option has silently been taken away.

Felt does have a point that the new Chrome now clearly shows in the upper-right corner which user, if any, is logged in. Johns Hopkins professor and cryptography expert Matthew Green has also raised privacy and trust concerns about the change on his blog.

Google secretly logs users into Chrome whenever they log into a Google site
How to escape Google’s forced logins on Chrome 69

When he wrote about his issues with the change, he also anxious that Google's "Sync" feature was automatically being enabled, but it appears that's not the case.

He also criticizes the user interface that Google makes exhaust of to count on whether or not it goes to sync your recordsdata. Perhaps the user simply doesn't want to risk any of his or her browsing data "leaking" into Google's servers.

What this has ultimately done is make Google Chrome another "Google service", rather than a neutral platform to surf the web. Theoretically, that means that you will automatically begin sharing data with Google, like it or not. Chrome is a default browser in Android which is the most used mobile OS and we can't delete Chrome from it. Chrome still asks me that question-it's just that now it doesn't honor my decision.

Chrome engineer and manager Adrienne Porter Felt explained further over several posts. Green said that when it comes to the other browsers, "for the most part, if you're not signed in, you're not going to have your info uploaded anywhere".

Felt also explains that the reason Google decided to make this change was to put an end to any confusion users may have had when trying to sign out of public or shared devices. "But when pressed on the actual details, nobody seems quite sure".

Blogger Bálint pointed out this unannounced change and how it could potentially cause confusion among users.

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