Google has been catching some flak for a feature it recently introduced into its Chrome browser, one that automatically logs users into the browser whenever they visit a Google website or service, such as Gmail. Starting with Chrome 70, Google will give users the option of disabling this controversial feature if they want to.
"While we think sign-in consistency will help many of our users, we’re adding a control that allows users to turn off linking web-based sign-in with browser-based sign-in—that way users have more control over their experience. For users that disable this feature, signing into a Google website will not sign them into Chrome," Google stated in a blog post.
In announcing the change, Google reiterated that signing into Chrome does not mean that the sync feature also gets turned on. Users who want their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on multiple devices will still have to manually turn that feature on.
Be that as it may, there has been some push-back among Chrome users about automatic logins. Part of the concern is the the automatic login occurs without a prompt that would allow users to override it. Moreover, the only indication that it even happens is a small profile picture in the upper-right corner of the browser.
Some users have viewed this as a breach of privacy and trust, and worry that Google may be using it as a way to collect more data.
"User consent matters. For ten years I’ve been asked a single question by the Chrome browser: “Do you want to log in with your Google account?” And for ten years I’ve said no thanks. Chrome still asks me that question—it’s just that now it doesn’t honor my decision," Matthew Green, a cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in a blog post explaining why he's ditching Chrome.
The feature will still automatically log users into Chrome when version 70 rolls out, though users will have the option of disabling it. Furthermore, Google is updating its UI to better communicate the sync status, the company says.