Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Chrome After New Privacy Disclosure (2023)

If you’re among the billions of people using Chrome, then Google’s stark new data harvesting disclosures should come as a nasty surprise. Worse, a new Chrome revelation, one that hasn’t yet made headlines but which is detailed below, should serve as an even more serious warning. Here’s what you need to do now.

Google is under fire this week, after the surprising amount of your data harvested by Chrome has been disclosed. This is a genuine threat to your privacy. Worse, a more serious issue for Google, detailed below, hasn’t even made headlines yet. Chrome is totally out of step with Safari, Edge and Firefox, shattering Google’s “privacy first web” claims. All of which should give you a serious reason to quit Chrome today.

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Last year, when Apple said that it would force app developers to disclose the scale of data collected and linked to its users, all eyes turned to Google and Facebook. Many suspected that this level of scrutiny would shine an alarming light on the world’s two most valuable data machines. And that’s exactly what has happened.

The issue for Google is that, unlike Facebook, it sits both sides of the fence. Guarding your privacy on one side—with Android and its mail, docs and drive ecosystem, and an advertising behemoth on the other, collecting $100 billion plus in ad spend, the majority of its annual revenue. In that regard, it’s really no different to Facebook.

And so, there’s little surprise that Apple’s mandatory privacy labels have shown these two ad giants to be well out of step with their peers when it comes to collecting your data. If your business model is monetizing your users’ information, then you’ll want to collect as much as you reasonably can—and Google and Facebook don’t disappoint.

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“Google doesn’t care about protecting user privacy,” privacy-centric DuckDuckGo warned this week, when Chrome’s privacy label was finally revealed, “they care about protecting their surveillance business model. If they really cared about privacy, they would just stop spying on billions of people around the world.”

DuckDuckGo focused on the data that Google collects, linked to its users. But there's a different dataset in the detail, included below, that’s much more damaging to Google and which shows Chrome to be shockingly different to its major rivals.

(Video) Google Chrome Gives you NO Privacy. Protect your Online Privacy

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I have already warned thatGmail collects more datathan other leading mail platforms. In its defense, Google pointed me at comments made by CEO Sundar Pichai, that “we don’t use information in apps where you primarily store personal content—such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar and Photos—for advertising purposes, period.”

You’ll note that Chrome isn’t on that list, nor is it an app “where you primarily store personal content.” But itisan app where you enter private and sensitive search terms and conduct private transactions. But what Chrome does have in common with Gmail is an avaricious and out of step approach to data harvesting.

Google took its time adding privacy labels, with a gap between app updates of some three months after the labels became mandatory. But now we can see the detail for Chrome, just as we did for Gmail. As I commented on Gmail, protecting user privacy is a binary philosophy, “you either believe it’s the right thing to do, or you don’t.” And these new labels have made Google’s (and Facebook’s) privacy claims sound hollow.

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Just as with Gmail, Chrome collects your user ID and device ID in too many categories. Unlike Safari, Edge and Firefox, Chrome says it links all harvested data to devices and individuals. Safari collects but doesn't link browsing history, usage data and locations to users. Neither Firefox nor Edge link usage data. But Chrome says it collects all those data fields and links all of them to user identities.

This isn’t complicated. The fact is that Chrome collects more data than any of the other browsers, yet is the only one that doesn't appear to collect any data that isn't linked to user identities. This is a much more shocking illustration of the different philosophies at play. Chrome hasn’t even attempted to protect its users’ privacy in this way. This isn’t about specific data fields, this is about an overarching attitude to privacy.

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(Video) Why I Suddenly Deleted Google Chrome Years Ago

“You don’t become a multi-billion-dollar company without grabbing as much data as you can then monetize,” says Cyjax CISO Ian Thornton-Trump. “It’s like there’s some sort of crossroads well maybe a three-way intersection. Collect all the data you can, collect all the data you need or collect the bare minimum of data. The companies in the bare minimum category are few and far between.”

“Why does a web browser need my financial data?” asks security researcher Sean Wright. “I think that says it all really. I really struggle to think of a suitable justification for that.” Google will argue that you can elect to provide your financial data when you choose to transact. But it’s yet more data collected under the guise of convenience.

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Google didn’t offer any comments in response to this story, but did insist that the justification for its data collection is to provide features and functions—for example tailoring searches to a user’s location. Again, this misses the stark difference between an in-session function and collecting linked user data, as suggested by its privacy label.

Google’s viewpoint, that it only collects the data needed to provide its service, is the same rationale WhatsApp gave me for collecting its own treasure trove of data. The issue with that reasoning, though, is that competing apps that collect significantly less data offer similar features and levels of performance and security.

Clearly, not every user will provide every data field on the privacy label to Google—they’re intended as a worst case, this is the data thatcouldbe collected. This is why comparisons are so critical—no privacy label should be taken in isolation. It’s also wrong to only compare mainstream apps with privacy-first specialists. Chrome versus DuckDuckGo, or WhatsApp versus Signal, for example.

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Comparing Google, Apple and Microsoft makes more sense. Looking across both emails apps and browsers for the three tech giants does not paint a pretty picture for Google—bear this in mind before you install its apps on your phone.

On the surface, Google does appear to be making privacy-related changes. Google told me it will “no longer use the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA)... on iOS for personalized advertisements and ad-related measurement in the near future.”Google has also committed to ending cross-site tracking cookies. But the devil’s in the detail, as seen in the news this week that Google killing these cookies might be anticompetitive.

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(Video) Episode 44 - No More Ads No More Privacy Problem

Google makes its money selling ads tailored to you as an individual, contextualized by your search or activity. Most of those ads are geared around search queries. And so, Google’s plan to replace cookies with so-called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), a clever way to say the “anonymization” of individual users into groups of individuals with common characteristics, is the kind of cleverness you’d expect from an ad giant.

The shift to FLoC has been criticized as putting too much control and, ultimately, monetization in Google’s hands. And, because this approach is handled by the browser you use, that control is enabled by Chrome’s dominance of the browser market, with a greater than 60% market share. “Users and advocates must reject FLoC,”says EFF, “and other misguided attempts to reinvent behavioral targeting. We implore Google to abandon FLoC and redirect its effort towards building a truly user-friendly Web.”

You might decide that you don’t like your browser analyzing searches and collecting your data to target you with ads. You might assume that a browserallegedto have tracked users even when those users enabled its “incognito” mode isn’t a privacy-first kind of platform. You might also ask if Safari and Edge deliver a degraded service absent that data harvesting. Remember, you can use Google without Chrome.

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This new Chrome warning is especially relevant for iPhone and iPad users, given they can now change their device’s default browser away from Safari. You certainly don’t want switch this to Chrome—ever. Why would you open yourself up to additional data harvesting when it does not add to your online experience?

Whether it’s mail or browsers, the pattern is clear. And before people email me to tell me they see some of the missing data types in other browsers or email apps, remember the difference between data fields being used and actually being linked to your identity. There’s a world of difference between the two.

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Andy Yen, the founder and CEO of ProtonMail, was heavily critical of Google’s data collection from Gmail. He sees the same pattern here, telling me that “a picture paints a thousand words. The only legitimate reason for a product to collect data is to make sure it has the information it needs to function. This necessity will vary from product to product, but as the chart shows, a browser clearly doesn’t need to collect any information on its users to do its job. The biggest players have profiteered off users' trust for too long and it’s time for alternatives.”

(Video) Everyone Uses Chrome. But Why?

The best browser for privacy is DuckDuckGo, albeit it’s likely too much of a departure for most users. But in whichever browser you use, turn off cross-site tracking where you can and consider using private browsing modes, albeit you’ll miss the convenience in accessing previous sites and being remembered when you do.

DuckDuckGo says it is now seeing a surge in downloads. “Looking at app store rankings,” a spokesperson told me, “our mobile browserhas been the second most downloaded mobile browser in the U.S. after Chrome.”It also says, unsurprisingly, that it supports Apple’s mandatory privacy labels, which have highlighted its benefits, “and we hope other app marketplaces will follow suit.”

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This is the crux, though. Apple does not monetize data in the same way as Google, its business model is to sell devices and services within its ecosystem, and privacy does genuinely appear to be in its DNA. The same cannot be said for Google. Google is not going to crack down on data collection in the same way. What it will do, though, is to adopt some of Apple’s initiatives, ensuring that it doesn’t fall too far behind.

The last decade has seen a steady erosion of your privacy. Free to use apps and platforms have monetized you and your data. You have traded away your privacy for that convenience.But when two of the world’s largest tech companies, Google and Facebook, generate most of their revenues from advertising, and when that advertising is driven by your data and interactions with their services, the balance is very wrong.

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“Facebook said that ‘privacy is a thing of the past’,” recalls security expert Mike Thompson, referring to Mark Zuckerberg’scommentsa decade ago, before he began to advocate more private interactions. “So why would Google not take the same stance? If Google took my privacy seriously, I wouldn't see repetitive ads all over my social media,” Thompson says, referring to ads that link back to activity on his phone.

But privacy is now on the agenda more than ever before. You have the opportunity to restore some of what has been lost. But only if you take initiatives like privacy labels seriously, if you show some correlation between the apps you use and the data they collect. If you look at the relative privacy labels and chose Chrome over Safari, or Chrome over Edge, then you send a message that its data harvesting is fine by you.

As I’ve said before, what happens next is down to all of us—all of you.

FAQs

Why You Should Avoid Google Chrome? ›

10 Reasons To Stop Using Google Chrome
  • Performance and Stability. Just because it's the most used doesn't mean it's the best. ...
  • Extensions Security. ...
  • Settings Bloat. ...
  • Slow Feature Development. ...
  • Ecosystem Lock-in. ...
  • Tracking and Privacy. ...
  • False Sense of Security. ...
  • Google Monopoly.
25 Feb 2022

Is it safe to use Chrome now? ›

Chrome is secure by default, protecting you from dangerous and deceptive sites that might steal your passwords or infect your computer.

Should you use Google Chrome? ›

Security/Privacy

Chrome keeps you safe and sound with its built-in malware and phishing protection. It has safe browsing technology and will show you a warning message before you visit a site that is suspicious.

Is Chrome good for privacy? ›

However, its privacy is lacking. Google Chrome is notorious for user data collection, tracking, and other privacy violations. One of its primary sources of revenue is user profiling for ad targeting. You can't expect a very private browser from such a company.

What is the safest browser to use? ›

Secure Browsers
  • Firefox. Firefox is a robust browser when it comes to both privacy and security. ...
  • Google Chrome. Google Chrome is a very intuitive internet browser. ...
  • Chromium. Google Chromium is the open-source version of Google Chrome for people who want more control over their browser. ...
  • Brave. ...
  • Tor.

What should I use instead of Google Chrome? ›

Top 10 Alternatives to Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox.
  • Apple Safari.
  • Internet Explorer.
  • Brave.
  • Opera.
  • Microsoft Edge.
  • Chromium.
  • Iron.

Has Google Chrome been hacked? ›

G oogle has announced that Google Chrome has been successfully hacked as it discovers 30 security flaws–seven of which pose a “high” threat to users. In a blog post, Google revealed that a new update will make improvements for Windows, Mac, and Linux, to fix the security issues after the hack.

Which is safer Google or Chrome? ›

Even though Chrome is good at protecting users against external threats, Google itself is a major threat to your privacy.

Is Safari safer than Chrome? ›

Safari measures up fairly well against a cross-platform browser like Chrome. But it lacks the extra safety and privacy features of privacy-first browsers like Brave. Given Safari's known shortcomings regarding newer web platform features, many users prefer to switch to a more secure browser.

Which browser is the safest in 2022? ›

Brave is arguably one of the best web browsers for all-around security. The open source browser includes a built-in ad blocker, a script blocker, automatically upgrades to HTTPS, blocks all third-party storage and protects against browser fingerprinting.

Is Safari more private than Chrome? ›

Apple has made privacy a top priority in all of its products, including its Safari browser. For the Brave browser, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft are touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google Chrome.

What is the disadvantage of Google Chrome? ›

Disadvantages of Chrome

No customization and options as are available on the chrome browser. for example, if the chrome browser window is closed with several open tabs, you won't be asked if you are closing or not all tabs. both tabs and windows are locked right away. Chrome does not have a sync option on Google.

What happens if I uninstall Google Chrome? ›

Because no matter what device you're using, when you uninstall Chrome, it will automatically shift to its default browser (Edge for Windows, Safari for Mac, Android Browser for Android). However, if you don't want to use the default browsers, you can use them to download any other browser you want.

Is Firefox safer than Chrome? ›

The Verdict

With your security settings fully optimised, there is not a huge difference between Firefox and Chrome. That said, many cyber security experts consider Chrome to be the market leader for a range of anti-malware threats that you might come into contact with while browsing.

Which browser do hackers use? ›

When performing penetration testing of any web-based application, the Mozilla Firefox browser is the most favorable browser of almost every Ethical Hacker and Security Researcher.

Is Microsoft Edge safer than Chrome? ›

In fact, Microsoft Edge is more secure than Google Chrome for your business on Windows 10. It has powerful, built-in defenses against phishing and malware and natively supports hardware isolation on Windows 10—there's no additional software required to achieve this secure baseline.

What is the difference between Google and Google Chrome? ›

When some people refer to Google, they are often referring to Google Search, which is a search engine. Google Chrome is a web browser, which serves its purpose for both the user and the device that it is running on. Search engines and web browsers are intertwined, which is why it is best not to separate them.

Can I have Google without Chrome? ›

You need a web browser to open websites, but it doesn't have to be Chrome. Chrome just happens to be the stock browser for Android devices. In short, just leave things as they are, unless you like to experiment and are prepared for things to go wrong!

Is Firefox is better than Chrome? ›

Is Firefox Really Better Than Chrome? Firefox is a more private and secure browser than Chrome, but Chrome is faster and contains more features. Is Firefox Safer Than Chrome? Both browsers are safe, but Firefox's tracking protection is more comprehensive than Chrome's.

Is Safari better than Chrome? ›

Both Safari and Chrome are good browser choices for Apple users. However, Chrome takes the lead over Safari in terms of performance, ease of use and customization, making it a better all-round browser choice.

Is Safari safer than Chrome? ›

Safari measures up fairly well against a cross-platform browser like Chrome. But it lacks the extra safety and privacy features of privacy-first browsers like Brave. Given Safari's known shortcomings regarding newer web platform features, many users prefer to switch to a more secure browser.

Is Google Chrome been hacked? ›

G oogle has announced that Google Chrome has been successfully hacked as it discovers 30 security flaws–seven of which pose a “high” threat to users. In a blog post, Google revealed that a new update will make improvements for Windows, Mac, and Linux, to fix the security issues after the hack.

Should I use Safari or Chrome? ›

Chrome, as you might guess, is certainly a better fit if you have Android devices or use Windows operating system (there's no Safari for Windows). It also works seamlessly with Chromecast so you can easily stream anything from your computer to your TV.

Is Edge safer than Chrome? ›

In fact, Microsoft Edge is more secure than Google Chrome for your business on Windows. It has powerful, built-in defenses against phishing and malware and natively supports hardware isolation on Windows—there's no additional software required to achieve this secure baseline.

What browser does Apple recommend? ›

Safari is the best way to experience the internet on all your Apple devices. It brings robust customization options, powerful privacy protections, and optimizes battery life — so you can browse how you like, when you like. And when it comes to speed, it's the world's fastest browser.

What is the best browser to use? ›

The 6 best web browsers
  • Best overall: Google Chrome.
  • Best for security: Mozilla Firefox.
  • Best for customization: Vivaldi.
  • Best for social media: Opera.
  • Best for macOS: Apple Safari.
  • Best for Windows: Microsoft Edge.
31 Aug 2022

Why do I have to agree to Google every time I open Safari? ›

This is normal behavior in private browsing mode. There's nothing you can do to stop that. Cookies are not saved from private browsing sessions.

Has Google Chrome been compromised 2022? ›

CVE-2022-2296 impacts Windows only, and Use After Free (a memory exploit) is the most common route researchers have used to exploit the browser in recent years. Almost 100 UAF vulnerabilities have been found in Chrome in 2022 alone.

Has Google Chrome been hacked 2022? ›

However, Google does confirm that CVE-2022-2856 was reported by hackers from within the Google Threat Analysis Group, Ashley Shen and Christian Resell, on July 19. It is, the advisory states, an "insufficient validation of untrusted input in Intents."

What is the first thing you do when you get hacked? ›

Step 1: Change your passwords

This is important because hackers are looking for any point of entry into a larger network, and may gain access through a weak password. On accounts or devices that contain sensitive information, make sure your password is strong, unique—and not easily guessable.

Is Safari more private than Chrome? ›

Apple has made privacy a top priority in all of its products, including its Safari browser. For the Brave browser, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft are touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google Chrome.

What is the difference between Google and Google Chrome? ›

When some people refer to Google, they are often referring to Google Search, which is a search engine. Google Chrome is a web browser, which serves its purpose for both the user and the device that it is running on. Search engines and web browsers are intertwined, which is why it is best not to separate them.

Is Firefox is better than Chrome? ›

Is Firefox Really Better Than Chrome? Firefox is a more private and secure browser than Chrome, but Chrome is faster and contains more features. Is Firefox Safer Than Chrome? Both browsers are safe, but Firefox's tracking protection is more comprehensive than Chrome's.

Which browser is most secure for online banking? ›

Brave is arguably one of the best web browsers for all-around security. The open source browser includes a built-in ad blocker, a script blocker, automatically upgrades to HTTPS, blocks all third-party storage and protects against browser fingerprinting.

Is Firefox safer than Chrome? ›

The Verdict

With your security settings fully optimised, there is not a huge difference between Firefox and Chrome. That said, many cyber security experts consider Chrome to be the market leader for a range of anti-malware threats that you might come into contact with while browsing.

Which is safer Google or Chrome? ›

Even though Chrome is good at protecting users against external threats, Google itself is a major threat to your privacy.

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