Search engine giant Google is prompting users of its popular Chrome web browser to try its latest version, but privacy advocates are warning about certain features that may go too far in terms of data collection. According to a recent news story published by Tech Radar, the Chrome 69 update forces users to sign into certain Google services for the purpose of collecting search history and other personal data.
The problem with Chrome 69 is that it acts as a Google service that has been locally installed and programmed to use the browser engine as an extension; in other words, the Chrome experience is similar to signing into a remote network where all information is captured. In the past, Chrome could sign into their Google accounts and allow the browser to manage their username and password credentials for services such as Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube; however, there was also the option to sign into each service individually so that Google would not capture search and browsing history.
With Chrome 69, accessing Gmail also links their browsers to their Google accounts, which means that their search history, the websites they have visited and the content they have browsed is uploaded to Google. In essence, this is a forced login procedure that many users will not be aware of. The way Google explains it in the Terms of Service document bundled into each copy of Chrome is that browsing information is stored locally and kept private as long as users are not logged into their main Google accounts; however, this stops being the case when users check their Gmail accounts because a data sync procedure is initiated at that point.
Information security analysts have previously warned about Google’s extensive data collection practices, and the release of Chrome 69 makes these concerns valid. The data privacy implications are greater when devices are shares by more than one user and someone forgets to log out of their accounts. For this reason, Google Chrome is not considered to be a browser ideal for internet cafe settings or family computers.
Chrome users who are concerned about their data privacy may wish to consider other software options. Mozilla Firefox, the Tor Browser and Firefox Focus are considered to be among the best in terms of security and data privacy; other options include Opera and Vivaldi, but these two browsers require a certain level of configuration to ensure that they maintain privacy and security.