Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Tech | By

Chrome Now Logs all Google Users Into the Browser. Should You Care?

Chrome Now Logs all Google Users Into the Browser. Should You Care?

"Sync is not turned on unless you later turn it on", wrote Chrome engineer Adrienne Porter Felt on Twitter, clarifying the change and explaining that the feature required an additional step to activate. Essentially, Google is forcefully logging users into Chrome.

Over the weekend, Google found themselves in the middle of a small internet uproar over a change in Chrome. She stressed that though someone is logged on to Chrome, they must still consent to a sync before their data is transferred to Google.

Sync's been part of the browser for years, but a Chrome sign-in was previously separate from a logged-in Google account.

The outcry came from people who assumed the profile photo meant they were signed into the browser and all of their information was being tracked by Google. The company also dumped Google as the browser's default search engine in France and Germany, replacing it with privacy-focused search tool Qwant.

This policy change was identified by cryptographer Matthew Green, also a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a scientist with the Zcash project, who wrote in a blog post that the change was sufficiently anathematic to user security and privacy that he will no longer be using the Chrome browser. First and foremost, they are angry because they don't have this ability to decide when they log into their browser, and second, they are angry because Google had failed to tell them about this new move.

But the criticism doesn't stop here. With settings options presented by a design and in a language Google sees fit, do Google Chrome users even know what they're really opting in for if they choose to opt-in to Sync?

People working at Google have apparently claimed that this feature was created to help avoid complications when someone is logged into Chrome, and another person uses that browser to log in to their own Google account when visiting a Google website.

Dismissing arguments that, if he wanted to keep using Google products he should expect privacy violations of this kind, Green said: "I reject this argument". Some claim that Google hid this new change in the Chrome 69 release, hoping that nobody would spot it among all the goodies the company added to its browser, hence, the reason why it did take over two weeks for Google aficionados to spot the update. Twitter is also known to be flooded with bots, fake news, and political influence campaigns, and Reddit is a home for communities dedicated to abuse, harassment, and physical threats.

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