10 Scariest and Most Annoying Facts about Google Chrome

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Privacy Invaders by Lulu Vision.

Yesterday I wrote that Google Chrome is not a good idea (it got 100 diggs in 3,5 hours btw. to be buried at 120). I tested Google’s new browser nonetheless and even before I could find out “how much faster it is” I was put off by a whole list of concerns and annoyances. Read the 10 most pressing ones:


Registry:
GoogleUpdate.exe wants to mess with the Windows Registry, Spybot stopped that. I download legit new applications frequently but registry changes are rarely the case. Why does GoogleUpdate have to mess with my Registry? There seems not even a way to opt out of GoogleUpdate. I barred it from accessing the web via my ZoneAlarm firewall.

Passwords:
I was just like “wow” when Google Chrome “imported” my passwords from Firefox. Did I miss the “opt out” option again? Good to know that Google builds actual “password import” utilities.

Bookmarks:
I do not remember allowing Google Chrome to take my Firefox bookmarks either. I want to keep my FF bookmarks to myself, it’s none of Google Chrome’s business.

Most viewed:
Great, now my wife, children, employer can easily check out that I was mostly on arrestbush.org, sexygals.com and Digg.com instead of working. I strongly advise you to use incognito mode in such cases.

EULA:
Is this really a browser user agreement or is this just adopted from other “services”? Did you actually read it? I’m not a lawyer, but some passages sound crazy: It seems Google Chrome is entitled to share data with third parties working with Google and revoke your rights to use this “service” among other weird legalese.

Privacy policy:
Now this must be a joke! The privacy part of the EULA, the probably most important issue facing data hungry Google is just a link! It basically in other words says: “We’re known for our great privacy regulations from elsewhere, check them out”. So in case you downloaded the browser but want to install it in off line mode you won’t be able to check out the privacy policy.

Updates every 25h:
Am I really unable to opt out the daily (25h) updates? I do not even update Firefox before I decide to do so. I just recently switched from FF 1.5 to FF 2. So now Google wants me to update every single day? I want to know beforehand why I should update and what changes have been implemented and then I decide whether I update. You can’t scare me into submission with badware sites etc.

Conspiracy theory:
Now we already know that Google does not care that much about privacy here (in fact even Microsoft is ridiculing them). In fact Google chief engineer Matt Cutts (“Head of Webspam”) cites a NYT article to let you know what Google engineers think about users caring for their privacy, they are a bunch of “conspiracy theorists“.

Default language:
Google decides for me which language I should use. As I’m based in Germany I was forced upon the German version although I chose the default one (presumably English) and downloaded Google Chrome with my English language Firefox. Until now I did not find an option to change that.

Search engines:
I added Cuil to my search engines in Google Chrome just to find out that I can’t make it the default search engine. Only the 5 Google chooses for me can be made the default search.

Safari for Windows:
Google Chrome is based on the same engine as Safari, which was the buggiest and most insecure browser of all time from day one. Matt Cutts already announced that the daily update is for fixing security holes, so it seems they expect plenty of them. How about not building in such holes in the first place?



Now many of you will probably think that “I’m wearing a tinfoil hat” as they say about paranoid people. To be honest I use at least a dozen of Google’s services in spite of their shortcomings.

I use

  • Google search daily a hundred times.
  • Gmail also my mails are stored in the US and can be read by basically more or less 50 different law enforcement agencies
  • Google Analytics although I’m an evil SEO ;-)
  • Google Docs for writing blog posts although basically has the copyright for everything you write there


To make this a full disclosure I even work with a company which partners with Google. Let’s see if I lose this job after this post. So this is not about “conspiracy theory” as Mr. Cutts put it, it’s about the most basic privacy concerns plus the right to decide yourself what happens on your computer.

Google better retracts from referring to concerned users as “conspiracy theorists” otherwise you might really get suspicious. Usually only those who hide something refer to critics as conspiracy theorists while others face the concerns and treat them with due diligence.

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