Google Chrome remains the most popular web browser in the personal computer and mobile device market segments. It received acclaims and recommendations from technology reviewers and users because of its notable advantages that include speed and reliability, simplicity of the interface and user experience, and expandability.
However, fast forward to several years later, this browser from Google has undergone numerous criticisms due to several critical privacy issues. Numerous industry observers, cybersecurity experts, and technology reviewers have gone as far as advising users not to download and use this application and instead, choose better alternatives.
Criticisms of the Browser: The Privacy Issues of Google Chrome
Popular online technology-oriented magazines and publications such as Wired and ZDNet have argued that “it is time to ditch” the browser. Andrew Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet noted that Google Chrome is a “great tool” for Google to amass a huge amount of data to find out how people use the Internet and use them to its advantage.
Kate O’Flaherty of Wired specifically wrote that apart from collecting user data, the browser also gives Google a considerable amount of control over how the world wide web works. Note that an update to the application demonstrates the willingness of the technology giant to replace cookies with its own tracking technology called FLoC.
The popular browser has undeniably undergone stringent scrutiny over the years. Other technology companies, privacy experts, government regulators, and advocacy groups have also raised several points regarding the pressing privacy issues of Google Chrome.
Data Collection and Targeted Advertisements
Some people are uncomfortable with the fact that Google uses data collected from its browser to deliver tailor-fitted advertisements. Remember that one of the core businesses or revenue models of the technology giant center advertising. Services such as Google AdSense, Gmail, and Google Search earn revenues through digital advertisements.
The browser is undeniably well-integrated with the entire data-gathering capabilities of Google. Examples of data it collects include search and web browsing history, location, product interaction data, and other user identifiers. Experts explained that excessively using Google Chrome enables Google to paint a detailed picture of the personality of its user.
Advertisements can be intrusive to a certain extent. Of course, while it bridges the gap between consumers and businesses, as well as audiences and content creators, delivering targeted ads using the personal data of a particular individual can be both disruptive to the user experience and somewhat exploitative in nature.
Unfair Advantage of Google Over its Competitors
Furthermore, with easy access to a large amount of data from millions of users around the world, Google has a competitive advantage over its competitors, including other search engine service providers, software developers, hardware manufacturers, and other online-enabled services such as social media companies, among others.
Several competitors and observers might consider this advantage unfair. Through the popularity of Google Chrome, as well as the popularity of other products and services from Google, the technology giant has created an ecosystem that operates through the principle of data collection and advertisement delivery, while confining users away from other alternatives.
Workaround: Handling the Privacy Issues of Google Chrome
One of the best workarounds to handling the privacy issues of Google Chrome is to look for an alternative web browser. Some of the available alternatives include Mozilla Firefox, Safari browser from Apple, and the Chromium-based Opera, as well as open-source browsers to include Brave and freeware applications such as Vivaldi.
However, it cannot be denied that the browser from Google has notable advantages that appeal to several users. Users who opt to use Google Chrome despite its inherent privacy issues can tinker with its settings. Note that the application has a built-in incognito mode that allows private browsing by leaving fewer tracks and erasing browsing data each session.
There are also specific controls to make browsing safe and secure for users. These include cookie management, which allows blocking of cookies on some or all websites, site settings for managing permissions to include access to location and hardware such as microphone and camera, and options for deleting browsing history, as well as other browsing data.
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
- O’Flaherty, K. 2021. “It’s Time to Ditch Chrome.” Wired. Available online
- Kingsley-Hughes, A. 2021. “Google Chrome: It’s Time to Ditch the Browser.” ZDNet. Available online
- Meyer, D. “U.K. Antitrust Probe Targets Google Chrome Privacy Changes.” Fortune. Available online