Google Chrome Begins 'Syncing' All Browser Data to Your Identity Without Asking

Kelley Robertson
September 28, 2018

Nearly all users who never used Chrome's Sync feature before might find it surprising that they are logged into Chrome right now, as they read this article, if they've also logged into a Google account somewhere on Gmail, YouTube, or any other service.

Google reportedly tweaked how its Chrome sign-in process works with its latest redesign, by logging users into the browser when they access a Google site.

Matthew Green, a cryptocurrency professor at John Hopkins University was one of the first to spot the change, calling it a "user-unfriendly forced login policy" and approached Google for an explanation. Apparently, Chrome 69 will log you into Chrome automatically whenever you log into a a Google service. It is because Chrome doesn't clear cookies created by Google even if you clear browser data.

Google Chrome 69 was released on September 5, more than two weeks ago, and if you haven't been probing the depths of Twitter, Mastodon, or Hacker News, you wouldn't have known of this change in Chrome's behavior.

Chrome has long included a feature that lets you log in, connecting the browser directly to your Google account.

Google recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of their popular Chrome browser a few days back.

Before Chrome 69, this sync feature was already there for a long period.

In one tweet, she confirmed that Google has changed the login procedures. Essentially, Google is forcefully logging users into Chrome. As a matter of first importance, they are irate in light of the fact that they don't have this capacity to choose when they sign into their program, and second, they are furious in light of the fact that Google had neglected to educate them regarding this new move.

But on the minus side for people concerned about privacy, Google can add that data to the vast amount that it already has about you through other linked accounts, such as Maps and YouTube. With the implementation of the new auto-login mechanism, it was easy to mistakenly assume that Google has actually enabled the Sync function automatically which is why there are concerns from users. The company also dumped Google as the browser's default search engine in France and Germany, replacing it with privacy-focused search tool Qwant.

We've learned that Android phones were sending location data to Google even when location history was disabled.

The problem, if there is one, certainly comes from Google's lack of transparency about the change.

Eric Lawrence, a former Google employee who worked on Chrome but is now employed by rival Microsoft, said he doesn't see any reason to be alarmed. Google is making is really hard for users to avoid being tracked. Lawrence said the dialog box asking if users want to enable Sync appears in the same location as the button to save a password and might be clicked by accident.

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