Google clarifies Chrome auto sign-in feature as security experts raise fear
MANILA, Philippines - Google found itself under fire for its latest browser update called Chrome 69 which, according to security experts, undermines user privacy and trust.
Aside from a redesigned interface, the browser update automatically signs people into Chrome when they sign into a separate Google service such as Gmail, for instance. What alarmed security experts, however, is that Google does not notify users that they have also been signed into Chrome.
When you sign into Chrome, you can sync passwords, bookmarks, and browsing history in between devices by letting Google save your browser data in their servers. In the previous version, signing in was completely voluntary which makes the recent update all the more controversial, according to The Verge. (READ: Google tunes search for prescience and pictures)
But Adrienne Porter Felt, a Google engineer and Chrome browser manager defended the recent change and provided clarfication in a tweet. “Chrome desktop now tells you that you're 'signed in' whenever you're signed in to a Google website. This does NOT mean that Chrome is automatically sending your browsing history to your Google account!" she said.
She added that there’s an additional step to enable Chrome sync after sign in and further reiterated that browser data is not automatically saved to Google’s servers.
“My teammates made this change to prevent surprises in a shared device scenario. In the past, people would sometimes sign out of the content area and think that meant they were no longer signed into Chrome, which could cause problems on a shared device,” Felt explained.
Matthew Green, a professor at John Hopkins University, does not appear entirely convinced with Google’s explanation. “The Chrome developers claim that with ‘sync’ off, a Chrome has no privacy implications. This might be true. But when pressed on the actual details, nobody seems quite sure,” Green wrote in a blog post.
Chrome is among the most widely used browsers in the market. – Rappler.com