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Google’s Chrome Web Browser “Has Become Spy Software”

Tyler Durden
June 24th, 2019
ZeroHedge
Comments (21)

This article was originally published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.

Google’s Chrome is essentially spy software according to Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler, who spent a week analyzing the popular browser and concluded that it “looks a lot like surveillance software.”  Fowler has since switched to Mozilla’s Firefox because of its default privacy settings and says that it was easier than one might imagine.

My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality.

Chrome welcomed trackers even at websites you would think would be private. I watched Aetna and the Federal Student Aid website set cookies for Facebook and Google. They surreptitiously told the data giants every time I pulled up the insurance and loan service’s log-in pages.

And that’s not the half of it.

Look in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. See a picture or a name in the circle? If so, you’re logged in to the browser, and Google might be tapping into your Web activity to target ads. Don’t recall signing in? I didn’t, either. Chrome recently started doing that automatically when you use Gmail. –Washington Post

When you use Chrome, signing into Gmail automatically logs in the browser to your Google account. When “sync” is also on, Google receives your browsing history. (Geoffrey Fowler/The Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Chrome is even worse when it comes to mobile devices – reporting the precise location of Android users unless location sharing is turned off, in which case it will send out your rough coordinates.

Cookie monsters

According to one study, tracking cookies from third-parties are on 92% of websites. The Washington Post, for example, uses around 40 – which the company said is “average for a news site,” and says they are designed to deliver better-targeted ads and track ad performance.

But cookies can also be found on websites with no advertising.

Both Aetna and the FSA service said the cookies on their sites help measure their own external marketing campaigns.

The blame for this mess belongs to the entire advertising, publishing and tech industries. But what responsibility does a browser have in protecting us from code that isn’t doing much more than spying? –Washington Post

Mozilla to the rescue?

For the past four years or so, Firefox browser has had a built-in anti-tracking feature for the past four or so years in its “private” browsing mode. Earlier this month, Mozilla activated this feature for normal browsing mode. While ads will still appear, Firefox is now separating cookies in real time to determine which ones are required for a website to function correctly, and which ones are simply spies.

Apple began to block cookies on their Safari mobile browser starting in 2017, using an algorithm the company calls “intelligent tracking protection.”

Chrome, meanwhile, continues to welcome cookies onto your computer and phone with open arms. That said, the company announced last month that it would require third-party cookies to better identify themselves, which will supposedly allow them to apply better controls. That said, the company did not offer The Post a timeline or say whether it would employ default tracking blockers.

I’m not holding my breath. Google itself, through its Doubleclick and other ad businesses, is the No. 1 cookie maker — the Mrs. Fields of the Web. It’s hard to imagine Chrome ever cutting off Google’s moneymaker. –Washington Post

“Cookies play a role in user privacy, but a narrow focus on cookies obscures the broader privacy discussion because it’s just one way in which users can be tracked across sites,” according to Chrome’s director of product management, Ben Galbraith. “This is a complex problem, and simple, blunt cookie blocking solutions force tracking into more opaque practices.”

Giving up on Google

In his decision to kick Chrome to the curb, Fowler cites a blog post by Johns Hopkins associate professor Matthew Green, who said last year he was “done” with the browser.

Like Green, I’ve chosen Firefox, which works across phones, tablets, PCs and Macs. Apple’s Safari is also a good option on Macs, iPhones and iPads, and the niche Brave browser goes even further in trying to jam the ad-tech industry.

What does switching to Firefox cost you? It’s free, and downloading a different browser is much simpler than changing phones.

In 2017, Mozilla launched a new version of Firefox called Quantum that made it considerably faster. In my tests, it has felt almost as fast as Chrome, though benchmark tests have found it can be slower in some contexts. Firefox says it’s better about managing memory if you use lots and lots of tabs.

Switching means you’ll have to move your bookmarks, and Firefox offers tools to help. Shifting passwords is easy if you use a password manager. And most browser add-ons are available, though it’s possible you won’t find your favorite. –Washington Post

Perhaps Fowler can reach out to some of his Washington Post colleagues to see what their many sources in the US intelligence community think of Chrome vs. Firefox…

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Author: Tyler Durden
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Date: June 24th, 2019
Website: https://www.zerohedge.com

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21 Comments...

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  1. Warchild Dammit! says:

    Really,folks,by now you know gaggle/fecesbook/twaddle/that info. whore alexis/many cell phones/apple/microdot ect. are spying on ya’s,do you still voluntarily use these cretins?!

    I realize that hard to avoid em all but with a little work could screw with em or just avoid completely.

    I do still wonder why there is a gaggle captcha in the right corner of site page,the captcha nonsense starts will be the death of another good site in my opinion.

    • Navy Vet says:

      While Firefox(FF) is better at some aspects of security, it’s not foolproof. For instance, there is a feature in FF that is supposed to delete ALL of your browsing history when you close FF when you check the box for it to do so. On my FF installation that feature doesn’t work the way it supposed to. The history file, which contains web site addresses, does get deleted, leaving behind cookies and site preferences among other things that can be accessed by web sites. These other bits of data are as insidious at identifying browsing habits as web site addresses, just not directly.

      In FF you can delete all of this data manually at Tools, Options, Privacy and Security, Delete History button.

      CCleaner also deletes all of this data.

    • TharSheBlows says:

      Yes indeed, I’ve know tis for at least 10 years. You can also disable Google Administrator on your cell phone and stop using all of the Google tracking apps. Or throw your phone away and get a new one and disable all Google Admin. Then add your info. And never Never ever charge your cell phone off your computer USB Port as that will instantly start syncing all your info from your cell phone to your Google home IP addy. Stupid is.

  2. The author suggestions the google privacy settings are useless. What about incognito mode? What about clearing cookies everyday? What about simply using Tor if we’d really like to be untraceable?

  3. ANGRY FROG says:

    Shoot I mess with them all the time.
    I write false stuff just to see if it ruffels there feathers, little do they know when I get 202 on my phone from the fat man or my phone rings in about a hour with a strange number they have given me Intelligence, so thanks guys.

  4. Heartless says:

    stating Google Chrome has become spyware is right up there with bears have been dumping in the woods.

    • John says:

      For years I sounded Alarm. No one listened. Now you people act like this is something new.
      NO. Nothing new. ALL Tech is surviellance tool.
      * * * There is a “use” to suck you into buying, using, carrying, allowing device into your home.
      * * * Then there is the TRUE/REAL purpose.

      Your cell phone is NOT a phone. It is a surviellance device.
      Your Internet TV is not a TV. it is surviellance device.
      Your Computer. Surviellance Device.
      Your new Automobile. Surviellance device.
      Key Fob for newer cars. Surviellance device.
      RFID chip credit cards. Surviellance Device.
      Credit Cards/ATM cards. Tracking and surviellance.
      SIRI. Alexa, etc. Are you kidding? Are you that stupid?

      IS ANYONE HERE PAYING ATTENTION???
      Do you see this message? Are you Awake?
      I have told you these things for YEARS. No one listens. Comments banned, shadow banned, erased, never seen.

      Look up something called “InteliStreets.”
      Your masters are building your cage.

  5. Clown World says:

    You can download Firefox, and use privacy settings, and then more-and-more add-ons, and manually remove elements of the script, all without curing someone of the mentality that you need to be followed.

    I personally liked the videos, where porch pirates are sprayed with stink and glitter, and robodialers are shut down by revenge spam — I guess, harmlessly.

    Let’s say social boundaries are dealt with, in a flowery and sugarcoated way, only. Let’s be real super nice about this.

    For so long as the reprobate is allowed to exist on shared infrastructure and interact with other people, there is only going to be a one track mind. Can’t make it clear enough.

  6. Clown World says:

    You can d ownload F irefox, and use p rivacy s ettings, and then more-and-more a dd-ons, and manually remove elements of the script, all without curing someone of the mentality that you need to be followed.

    I personally liked the v ideos, where porch pirates are sprayed with stink and glitter, and r obodialers are shut down by r evenge s pam — I guess, harmlessly.

    Let’s say social boundaries are dealt with, in a flowery and sugarcoated way, only. Let’s be real super nice about this.

    For so long as the reprobate is allowed to exist on shared infrastructure and interact with other people, there is only going to be a one track mind. Can’t make it clear enough.

  7. Bilge Pump McCoy says:

    I switched to Firefox and Proton mail a few years ago. I also disconnected by Alexa gadget after I learned that I was duped by Amazon into letting it listen to everything that was going on in my living room. And I just installed Linux and a VPN in an old PC so I can eventually make the switch to Linux after I learn how to use it. This spying crap is out of control. It’s about to force me in to an anger management program.

  8. rellik says:

    Firefox Browser and DuckDuckGo for searching.
    Linux operating system.
    I use Ubuntu set up to dual boot
    with the Windows crud.
    I own 5 computers and they are all
    different operating systems,
    but Firefox Browser and DuckDuckGo for searching.
    is common.
    Full disclosure – I have a degree
    in Computer science, so this stuff
    is my profession and hobby.
    My wife thinks I’m addicted to
    the computer.

    • Anyone ever consider Tor or Tails?
      It uses FF also.

      When surfing questionable sites (or sites of questionable PC content), or issues with anonymity – it works great.
      Add a sandbox (poss VM) and you’ve got a more secure browsing platform, whatever the OS.

    • Saul Badman says:

      Dont forget tor, privoxy, squid combo, and of course have a rpi that you can use as a home vpn to connect to the web for those apps that do not go through tor.

      Then configure tor to not only handle your ip address, but the DNS as well, therefore always having a switching DNS – now try logging my activity.

  9. Writing letters and sending them in the mail via the post office may take longer but it is less invasive. The post office can record the front of the envelope, but I doubt that they read the contents of mail, unless you are under investigation by the FBI or something.

    In any case, it’s best to limit what you put to paper.

    I see, there is less traffic here with each passing day. It’s been fun.

    .

    • rellik says:

      HP,
      Probably because we feel safer since we got rid of the
      crazy Democrat tyrant.
      What surprises me about this site, is it allows very
      wide variety of views, without bans, is that it is not more successful. You get sites like Free republic that will ban you if you use the word “bomb”. They are dominated by a select few, like this site tends to be, but it is widely read.
      I think a big problem is Mac won’t allow us to post articles.
      Ketchupondemand and Angry beaver had some interesting
      stories to share. All we get is doom porn that we often hijack
      to talk about prepping stuff.
      Speaking of preps, I helped harvest my pig this weekend.
      it is now in the freezer and smoker.
      The Pig paddock will be planted with watermelon, and beans.
      Soon as I repair the roto-tiller.

      • Do you have any other sites you would recommend besides this one?

        • Anonymous says:

          wtf,
          look to your Left ,lower side of home page here.
          there is sites listed there. (small blue letters on my screen.)
          some are good sites.

          go to youtube. c 0 m
          you can waste weeks there. but be careful of the source on youtube channels. some people there are kooks. their ideas don’t work. use your judgement. you should verify by actually doing.

          get a side business going. involve family.
          grow garden. Learn. Improve.
          get chickens
          get goat
          get rabbits
          reload ammo. give away reloads to all your family, neighbors, friends.
          take medical training
          ham radio and use, power setup for radio.
          get you vehicle ready and keep it ready for road trip.
          maps, compass, routes away from your location explored
          get off your ass and get into shape.
          Tough one here. get your family in physical shape. Good luck!
          Practice lights out, water out, for one week. Once summer. Once dead of winter. Learn. Improve.
          Hike out of you city on foot with family. Learn. Improve.
          now you are “prepped”. not rocket science. common sense.
          Be a doer. Not a reader, not a watcher. Do. Practice.

          Most important. Get out of any major city. Death traps ALL OF THEM.

          Find a good church. Find Jesus. When things are at their worse you will need faith. Might be all you have?

          There. I just saved you years of reading, watching.
          Do. Be a do’er.
          Buying and hoarding is not same as prepping.

          • Thx Anon,
            All great and valid recommendations.

            Common sense dictates :
            If you do, you will (be ready),
            If you don’t, you wont (be ready).

            I don’t claim to have it all together (yet), but at least I’m trying.

  10. Mensa Graham says:

    Try Opera browser then let all of us know your thoughts. So far it is working well for me.

  11. Has become spyware? LOL, where have you been?