Google Chrome 70 Helps Fight Multiple Battles, Privacy and PWAs
posted Saturday Oct 20, 2018 by Scott Ertz
When Google released version 69 of their Chrome web browser, they introduced a new "feature": if you log into any Google service using the browser, Google will automatically sign you into the browser. This is a small but important change. It means that as soon as you sign in to Gmail or YouTube, all of your browser activity is immediately attachable to you - no more anonymity using Chrome. Geek News Central describes the problem in detail.
Needless to say, privacy groups were immediately concerned about this change. Forced and purposeful removal of privacy from a product as ubiquitous as a web browser is a special kind of problem, for which consumers should definitely be concerned. Fortunately, after privacy groups and tech outlets made a lot of noise, Google quickly agreed to fix the problem. This week saw that fix, which is far less of a fix and more of a joke.
In Chrome 70, Google has added a new setting under "Privacy and security" which allows you to toggle on or off the "Allow Chrome sign-in" capability. Unfortunately, the setting is ON by default, meaning that it is an opt-out feature rather than an opt-in feature. That means that, unless you are aware of the privacy violation, you don't know that you need to turn it off. While this is technically a fix, it is far from what privacy groups or consumers would want. We recommend turning this setting OFF immediately.
In addition to "fixing" their privacy violation, Google has also doubled down on a technology that no one else appears to care about: Progressive Web Apps. These "apps" are nothing more than websites, a rehashing of the failed technology that was Cordova and PhoneGap. This is a technology that Microsoft already supports (the Windows 10 Twitter app, for example). It seems that Google is catching up with Microsoft on web technology, despite the overall disinterest in it from most developers.