Google recently launched Chrome 69, the latest version of World’s most popular web browser. It comes with a new design — you must have noticed the rounded edges of the tabs and some of the round buttons that are part of Google’s material design. It is also faster and it will remind you not to repeat passwords on websites. But along with the new nice features, the Chrome 69 also comes with a new feature that it tries to sneak onto users and which has serious privacy implications. Apparently, Chrome 69 will log you into Chrome automatically whenever you log into a a Google service.
In other words, if you log into Gmail using Chrome 69, you will also be logged into the Chrome browser, which in turn may mean that Google will get to see all your browsing history and associate that with your account. This could be useful information for Google to build a better advertising profile for you. For example, if you looked for best TV to buy on the web using Chrome 69, Google will probably know it and serve you advertisements related to TVs.
This change in the way Chrome 69 treats users when they log into a Google service was noticed by Matthew Green, a cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University. In a blog post titled “Why I am done with Chrome” he wrote, “From now on, 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.”
Although, he acknowledges that this doesn’t necessarily mean Chrome 69 will sync your browsing history with Google servers although he hasn’t find a proper explanation of why Google will do such an automatic login. “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,” he wrote.
So what’s the issue here. A quick explanation. Chrome browser can be accessed in two modes: Signed-in or basic mode. If you are using the browser in sign-in mode, Google will track all your data like your browsing history, active tabs, passwords and cloud settings. This is helpful in a situation like if you are working on something important and need to halt your work for sometimes. The data is synced so you can pick up from where you left in the sign-in mode.
Basic mode is the opposite of the sign-in mode. It allows you to access Google websites like Gmail, browser or Google Maps without the need to sign-in your main Google account. Google servers do not access your data like your browsing history, passwords or other data. However, this apparently changes now. Starting from the version Chrome 69 and after that, the browser will track your data and share it with Google server every time you access any Google website.