Chrome didn't survive long...

September 3, 2008 at 9:31 PMAndre Loker

... on my computer. Less than 24 h after I downloaded Google's first own browser I already uninstalled it. Sure, it's slick and lightning fast. But I can't help it: I don't trust it.

Excerpt from the "Google Chrome Privacy Notice":

Your copy of Google Chrome includes one or more unique application numbers. These numbers and information about your installation of the browser (e.g., version number, language) will be sent to Google when you first install and use it and when Google Chrome automatically checks for updates.  If you choose to send usage statistics and crash reports to Google, the browser will send us this information along with a unique application number as well.  Crash reports can contain information from files, applications and services that were running at the time of a malfunction.

It's not completely new that software has a unique ID which is frequently sent back "home". Firefox also has a unique ID used for the auto update feature (see Firefox Privacy Policy, search for "Automated Update Service"). It's the fact that everything you search for, everything you enter into the "Omnibox" is sent to Google (at least in the default configuration if Google is your search engine). It does not take much to come up with some really scary scenarios in which your ID is combined with your search profile. I'm not saying Google is doing it or planning it, I'm just pointing out that with Chrome there's a much higher potential for Google to profile individual usage behaviour.

Still convinced of Chrome? Read on. Excerpt from the "Google Chrome Terms of Service" (Update: this has been changed in the meantime by Google and does not represent the current state of the EULA, see "Update 3" below)

11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.

I'm no lawyer, but this sounds very much like "Google has the right to do whatever they like with the data you send and receive using their services". This is unacceptable.

Call me a follower, call be paranoid, call be simple-hearted. But I'm not willing to take part in this new chapter of informational transparency. I know that Google is by far not the only threat for privacy. But the more we combine different services of one specific provider the more traceable we become. I'm always open for a discussion, so if you feel like being able to convince me, have a shot at it!

Thanks to Hennie for pointing me to the Chrome terms of service.

Update: "This Post Not Made In Chrome; Google's EULA Sucks" - a nice post from someone who actually is a lawyer.

Update 2: As far as I understand, Chromium (the open source project on which Google Chrome is based) does not fall under the same terms of service, so chances are that if you're using a Chromium build you don't grant any license for submitted content to Google.

Update 3: In the meantime Google has replaced paragraph 11 of the Chrome Eula:

11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

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Comments (25) -

Want to borrow my tin foil hat?

Google has rewritten section 11 of the EULA:

11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

12. Software updates ...

So then I guess you don't have a gmail account, you don't use picasa, you don't use google docs... poor guy...
Why do you have a computer? Live in safety and switch back to pen and paper!

I do not have a gmail account, I prefer my account, it means a lot and I don't need gigs to store mails, for transfering large files there is something called ftp, it works rather well.
I do not use picasa, I do not see any use of it since I am not enough narsisic.
I do not use google docs, it's to limited for my usages, Open Office fullfils my needs and can be installed on a usb key to be run everywere.

If you only use google tools, then why do you need a computer? a tv box is enough for you.

Oh, and I do not use paper either, it's not safe, any one can read it and it can burn or disapear too easily

Poor child on you avatar, having such a ridiculous father...

I just wanted to point out that in the internet world there's a lot to be paranoid about.

ps: Please don't get personal ;)

@Craig: I prefer my paper bag but thanks anyway!

@Simon: Thanks, that's good news

@TweeZz: I'm well aware of privacy threads around me and that using the Internet "safely" is virtually impossible. But I have the strong believe that blindly relying on and binding to a provider that already has incredible power over the way we use the Internet is the wrong direction. BTW, I actually don't have a GMail account.

@Longinus: I completely understand your point - there *are* alternatives - but please don't get personal.

orangemoon says:

hmmmm, get a life

"But I have the strong believe that blindly relying on and binding to a provider that already has incredible power over the way we use the Internet is the wrong direction."

And yet you develop for the Microsoft platform, a company that has a long history of abusing market power.

I'm well aware of privacy threads around me and that using the Internet "safely" is virtually impossible.
@andre: I am not a native English speaker, but do you mean "threats" instead of "threads" ?

@Craig: that’s a valid argument, indeed. On the other hand I’m as much an opponent of a Microsoft monopoly as I disagree with Google taking over the net. Using .NET does not mean sticking to MS everywhere. And I’m not alone with this, movements like ALT.NET don’t exist for nothing. In my daily work I use a lot of non-Microsoft tools and libraries.
I don’t say we should avoid Google. They provide excellent services and write great software. But I try to advise people to strive for diversity.
Everyone who thinks that it was a fault to let MS gain that much power in the software sector should realize that we’re about to let the same thing happen with Google and the Internet. Only that this time it’s not the tools we are talking about, it’s the content (ie. information).

@keskiya: neither am I speaking English natively. You're right, that should have been ‘threats’

@orangemoon: I tried once or twice. Didn't work out for me, though.

Chrome will be awsome once it is out of beta.  

Personally, you need to stop blogging about stuff that everyone else is blogging about.   So the EULA has been changed, big deal.

So Chrome tracks everything you do for targeting ads.  Who cares. You don't want to be tracked? Then stay off the internet.

protect the pr0n!

No doubt the technology behind Chrome has great potential. V8 rocks.

I find it interesting that there are obviously a lot of people out there who believe informational self determinism in the Internet is a binary thing: either stay away from the net or tolerate that your privacy is void. I hope and believe that there is a way in between...

Anyway, I'm glad to receive that much feedback. Keep 'em coming! says:

i totally agree...and removed Chrome just as fast...  There is indeed a happy medium regarding privacy...and I totally prefer the privacy capabilities in IE8 beta2 anyday over Chrome...

This is stupid. Google can already track you to an individual IP based on your searches. Using their own browser doesn't give them any extra information about you than they already have.

Its not just the searches, its whatever you type into the onmibar. So you could directly type in an address, and google would be able to track you. Oh well, if youre a developer you better get used to having chrome around for testing!

i think gmail works under the same rules, so i dont see no big deal here.

@anonymous: first of all, unlike the installation ID my IP address changes daily. Secondly as Ryan mentions, a default Chrome installation sends every URL you type in to the omnibar back to Google. This is much more than a specific keyword search using Google. This behavior is configurable, but I'd find it much better if Chrome asked the user whether they want this feature enabled or not during installation. Even the Windows Media Player asks the user clearly which online features should be enabled during installation.

@Ryan: that's right, sooner or later I will have to use Chrome for development. On the other hand I'm primarily developing Intranet apps which are used mainly with IE so I don't have that much pressure coming from that direction.

@raveman: the terms of service for Chrome (ie. the offending paragraph 11) have been changed by now, so this concern is no longer an issue. Anyway, gmail's terms are clearly different from the controversial old version of the Chrome EULA:

See: paragraph 5, "Your Intellectual Property Rights":
Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content, including any text, data, information, images, photographs, music, sound, video, or other material, that you upload, transmit or store in your Gmail account. We will not use any of your content for any purpose except to provide you with the Service.

I think you are missing the big picture. May be Google have some hidden agenda but I think they created chrome to reduce the market of IE. Google and MS are rivals and they are always trying to tap into each others market. I am a .net web developer and need both Google and MS. Since you are not in US may be privacy is an issue to you. I am Muslim and pretty sure my phone calls get monitored on my most private calls.

The point is I don't care if Google tracks my usage or the programs I use. If you are a developer you should know that Google need to know what programs were running when Chrome crashes in order to resolve the issue.

@Tareq: sure thing Google is trying to compete MS. As of now they will more likely compete with "alternative" browsers on Windows (FF, Opera), however. Most casual users stick to IE anyway, as it comes out of the box. I know a lot people who don't even know what the word "browser" means, yet they are using IE. It's mainly the enthusiasts who switch to other browsers. So it will be primarily those enthusiasts who use an alternative browser already who'll use Google.
On the other hand, unlike Firefox and Opera, "Google" is something even the casual users have heard of or used, so this might be a chance for Chrome to gain market share a bit quicker.

A crash report can indeed be useful. I wonder, however, why such a report needs to be tagged with a unique ID; similarly why does the update function need a unique installation ID? This concern is not limited to Chrome, but counts for Firefox and others as well.

i totally agree on a lot of points:
-Google has too much power already
-Firefox works just fine for me, why would i use another browser?
-MS also knows too much, that's one reason i work on linux most of the time (except for games, everyone knows they don't run perfect on linux yet >_<)

Some people who are posting things like "if you don't want to be tracked stay off the internet" are damn crazy...
there ARE tools to stay anonymous, there are tools to hide what you do, or who you are.
I don't understand how anyone is WILLING to give away his freedom and privacy without any reason.
I don't understand how some people can actually agree with it, and just not care when their entire internet life can be controlled by big companies, or governments, or who knows who...

I also don't see why people agree with the entire "google tracks your content to specify adds".
For hell's sake... why WOULD you want to see adds anyway, this entire world is full of it.
let me tell you: some people still don't like to be told what to do, what to buy, and what to think, it's just sick.

You're a moron, get a life geek.

Who cares about Google Chrome? It's a flash in the pan. Google has brought to "market" a lot of products that have fizzled. Chrome is a still-born browser. Nuff said.

Google has released chrome in a hurry without doing last minute checking. A lot of security vulnerabilities are coming up though. And I also see they’ve released an updated version of chrome just after one week of the chrome launch. Im sure more updates are to continue.

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