Quick. Can you name the world’s most popular web browser? Internet Explorer? Nope. Firefox? Uh uh. Safari? Close. Opera? You’re getting colder. The most used browser on planet earth belongs to Google. Chrome.
Stop using Chrome. Your life will be better. Yes, Chrome has been around a decade and it’s likely everyone you know that browses uses Chrome. Unless they’re iPhone or iPad users. Then it’s Safari. Don’t let Google’s playful, colorful logos fool you.
No entity on planet earth tracks you the way Google’s Chrome tracks you. If you’re not being tracked by Google because you chose Safari or Firefox, then Google tracks you using the de facto standard website tracker, Google Analytics. Even apps track you using Analytics (Mac360 dropped Google Analytics a few years ago– no trackers here).
What’s wrong with Google Chrome now? For Mac users, Chrome is a power hungry beast that sucks up battery life on notebooks worse than Safari or Firefox. Chrome does not have the built-in tracking protections that Safari and Firefox use. If you Remember The Alamo then you need to Remember The Business Model. Google’s model is to sell advertising and does that by gathering personal information about you.
OK. Fair enough. Just don’t log into anything Google, right? Wrong. Let’s say you use Chrome but you don’t log into Chrome because you don’t want to be tracked by Google. The 10th anniversary Chrome release has a sneaky new feature you need to know. If you log into Gmail on Chrome, then you get logged into Chrome, and now Google knows exactly who is browsing wherever.
Lily Hay Newman explains:
Chrome now takes a single login to a particular Google service as carte blanche permission to log a user into other Google products, and starts sharing data like browsing history.
Bingo. Gotcha. You’ve been Pwned.
Google, of course, doesn’t want you to know exactly what’s going on which is why the change was handled without fanfare, but they did respond to the public controversy.
Google says that the new Chrome login resembles Google’s general Single Sign-On feature, which allows your login on Gmail, say, to carry over to Google.com, or any other service in the ecosystem.
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. Sync is only enabled if you choose. To customize the specific information that you synchronize, use the ‘Settings’ menu. You can see the amount of Chrome data stored for your Google Account and manage it on the Chrome Sync Dashboard.
So, some data that Google could collect while you’re signed into Gmail may not happen the same ways as if you sign into Chrome; tantamount to giving Google the number of hairs on your head.
Uh huh. It’s not as if Google struggles to find information about users.
The best option for continuing to use Chrome seems to be using a secondary browser for your Gmail and other Google services. Which is a pretty unappealing prospect.