New Google Chrome Update
Google Chrome has been updating a lot lately and this time. While updates are always necessary (whether for good or bad) their latest update may have generated some kind of heat and a bad kind of heat at that. But before we get to that let’s dive on a few things that deserve a bit of our attention. Google Chrome’s update this month gave it some new features and a new look. In this new update for the Google Chrome 69, users will no longer see the “www.” in their address bar because they’re basically dinosaurs now or a “trivial sub-domain” whichever term strikes your fancy is fine, but as per Google, the “www.” before every website is going the way of the Dodo.
So on to the controversial part. It appears that the latest update in Chrome 69, when you log in to a Google related service or website like Gmail or Youtube or what have you, this, without your prior knowledge automatically logs you into the Chrome browser as well. This is something many people are displeased about. This is something that they did on top of what they did before this update which was the Chrome Sync where once a user logs in to the browser, his or her information, such as passwords, bookmarks and even your browsing history (good God, not the browsing history!) will be shared across all your devices. Understandably so, this caused some major concern to many a user. And with good reason, because information security experts are worried about this too. This is because your data is likewise stored in the Google Database. Many worry that this kind of practice will lead to an abuse of power and a breach of privacy, as it is very tempting for these Silicon Valley giants to just sell or swap your personal information out there to whoever is looking for it. This basically, 21 st Century lead mining and telemarketing.
One of the experts in this field, John Hopkins University cryptography professor Matthew Green, voiced his concerns about this new update. He says that this fundamental change in the sign-in experience has huge implications for Google and the future of Chrome and thus needs more mainstream attention. In addition, he thinks that the rationale of Google to push for this kind of log-in procedure makes no sense because if a friend or, anybody else for that matter, get a hold of your computer or device, you can accidentally get your friend’s cookies to your account and this is something people would generally want to avoid. This would, in turn, cause serious repercussions for user privacy and not to mention trust for the company. For the meantime, Green says he would part ways with Google Chrome.
This issue is certainly complex. Speaking from the side of Google is Chrome engineer and manager Adrienne Porter Felt. She explained, mostly on her Twitter account, that users need not to worry about people finding out other people’s browsing data and web statistics because so long as the user logs out completely, then his or her information won’t be carried out or won’t stay in that device for the next user to freely peruse.
This does not absolve Google from the fact that the passwords and other possibly sensitive information that’s been input by users get stored in their database. This opens the possibility of data sharing to other companies. And with the controversy faced by Facebook, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before the Senate precisely because of this controversy, trust between users and major tech companies have been in shaky waters since. This is also on top of the automatic pan-device log-in that Chrome 69 does that does not give the user a chance to choose whether to log-in or not. And to add insult to injury, the system does not let you know that such a sync took place, it just happens right under your nose.
With Google Chrome 69 just recently out and the backlash it took, we are all waiting to see what it’s real impacts are. Is the reasoning by Google justified and this hullabaloo about this update is nothing of significance? Will Google capitulate and change its policies regarding this matter? Or will this change the way big corporations handle our private information and social media marketing for good? Only time can tell.