Enforced Google logins in Chrome spark privacy concerns

Security expert Matthew Green has some harsh criticism for Google

Now it has begun automatically logging users into Chrome sans their consent - which can lead to all your personal data getting shipped to Google's servers.

What he discovered was that if you were logged into Google and tried to clear all cookies, the Google authentications would not be removed, of it they were removed, were quickly recreated. "Whether intentional or not, it has the effect of making it easy for people to activate sync without knowing it, or to think they're already syncing and thus there's no additional cost to increasing Google's access to their data".

Google is saying that the browser history data doesn't go to Google automatically and that users must opt in to have that happen.

Furthermore, they also revealed that the reason why this mechanism was added was for privacy reasons in the first place. Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world with a almost 60 percent market share globally and about 50 percent in the US. The changes include tweaking a section title from "Signed-in Chrome mode" to "Signed-in, Synched Chrome mode" as well as the addition of two sentences: "On desktop versions of Chrome, signing into or out of any Google web service (e.g. google.com) signs you into or out of Chrome".

But despite this clearly logical decision behind this move, users are still angry.

Prior to this change, users had the option to specifically log into browsers if necessity arose.

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Google, for its part, has not formally responded to the concerns, though its developers have stated that a now-outdated privacy policy which makes a clear distinction between Chrome's signed-in and signed-out modes will be updated to reflect the changes - suggesting that there's little chance the company will reverse the change in the browser's functionality.

But the criticism doesn't stop here.

Recently, though, Matthew Green, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University and a cryptography expert, discovered that an update to Chrome has been signing users into their Chrome browsers whenever they logged in to a Google website. He called the Chrome sync-consent page a "dark pattern", a term describing a user interface created to deceive or mislead people.

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.

Over the weekend, Google found themselves in the middle of a small internet uproar over a change in Chrome. If this kind of thing bothers you, consider not using Chrome. The company also dumped Google as the browser's default search engine in France and Germany, replacing it with privacy-focused search tool Qwant.

Microsoft has suffered a major reputational blow due to its initially hidden Windows 10 telemetry practices, and so has Facebook in the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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