Google Tweaks Chrome in Response to Privacy Criticism


SAN FRANCISCO — Under fire from security experts, Google is making tweaks to the way it manages how people sign in to its popular web browser, Chrome.

Because of a recent update to the browser, if a user signs into a Google account — such as to use Gmail or Google Docs — Chrome also logs in the user automatically.

Now, Google says that in the next version of the browser software, being released next month, users will be able to opt out of the automatic sign-in.

Google said it was making the change because of complaints from users.

“Every time you log into a Google property (for example, Gmail), Chrome will automatically sign the browser into your Google account for you. It’ll do this without asking, or even explicitly notifying you,” Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University, explained in a blog post outlining the forced sign-in issue.

Some people had expressed concern that being automatically logged in to their browser meant that their search queries and browsing history would be linked to their Google account, known as syncing.

But that is not the case, Zach Koch, a Chrome product manager, wrote on Tuesday in a blog post about the change.

“Users who want data like their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on other devices must take additional action,” he wrote.

Mr. Koch wrote that Google was tweaking Chrome’s interface so that it was clearer to users when their history is and is not synced.

Follow Kate Conger on Twitter: @kateconger

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