If you don’t know (see The Long Story below), Chrome is Google’s browser product using Chromium, its own open source project. Being open source, Chromium is available to other developers to create altogether different browsers; you can learn more here and (as an aside) the Chromium OS is typically avoided at the cafe and will continue to be so until it can integrate Google’s Play Store apps.
The Short Story
I once regularly shared my laptop with someone who also had a gmail address. Laptop’s gone, there’s no more sharing but sure enough, if I wander to Pintrest for any reason, Chrome offers to sign in as that person or continue as that person even though I’m signed in otherwise to other services including Gmail. This happens on my one-week old tablet too – so it’s a long, long memory Chrome has. (I guess it didn’t get the email?)
The behavior of persistent passwords, staying logged in, certainly isn’t horrible in my mind; it’s a terrible security lapse but only if you can’t punch a would-be thief in the face before they get away with it. Nonetheless, users are entertaining other web browser options. I’ve tinkered with Brave enough to know I rely too heavily on staying logged in but like it.
When investigating private browsers, it’s easy to find a half-dozen contenders based on Chromium. A wobbly dev base and serious dearth of addons make most unattractive but it’s still worth a snoop. The TOR browser might add a few steps to your routine but serves as a fake ID making you feel like an Internet Hacker Spy (until you log into Facebook of course). Just about all VPNs have been cracked or exploited but this isn’t about anonymity…
It’s your privacy this is about. This is about not passing your credentials around site after site and sharing your image and sharing your email and on and on. It’s about you making the choice when that sort of sharing takes place. With enough push back, I’m almost willing to bet that Chrome 70 or 74 or something makes the news for reversing course yet again and becoming the peoples’ browser at which time I’ll be happy to come running back.
The Long Story
Chrome began as a free, underdog of a web browser to combat the supremecy of Explorer and stop users’ privacy and surfing habits from being exploited. It quickly came to dominate the internet and also evolved into a cutting edge rendering tool for what developers were really into. Websites were snazzier and Chrome was safer!
Chrome was also the first experience for most people with cloud-based software. Users weren’t aware they were receiving updates seamlessly (unlike Internet Explorer which let users decide on upgrades and acquired a long tail of legacy versions that annoyed Microsoft and web developers).
Chrome is now up to version 69 and what began as the rebellion browser that vowed safety, privacy and speed did away with the third of those three pillars: Privacy. Safety and speed casulties aren’t the focus here but a decade has made the rebel fat and lazy. It’s not too much to ask that a browser be fast and safe but what people love most seems to be browser extensions. Chrome has tons; other browsers have few and that alone may keep Chrome in favor.
If you like a clean experience and your privacy from one site to the next is something you value, Chrome is no longer the way to go – imagine a city street lined with shops. As you explore, how would you like to be greeted at each new shop you enter? I’d prefer to be a stranger every time. I’m unconfortable with all the vendors knowing my email, phone and name before I cross their thresh holds. What’s more, there’s power in being able to start anew with each new doorway entered.
There’s a double-edged sword here which is why the arguement exists at all. For starters, legitimate internet users can have multiple ID’s online: Webmasters, team leaders, organizers, etc and; bad actors use multiple ID’s online to keep a public guessing and better the odds of ensnaring victims. I could argue both sides but would prefer Goole Chrome to come back into the brawl of Privacy Protection an ally.