Google Chrome Privacy Problems

/*--- holy mAcar00ns!! --- */

From the ACLU of Nothern California:

Google Suggest is a new Chrome feature that suggests possible completions for partial search queries, such as when you misspell a Web address or otherwise encounter an error. This feature comes at a high price paid with personal data, however. Every keystroke typed into a Google Suggest-enabled area is sent to Google, along with your IP address and any Google account information stored in cookies on the user’s computer.

While Google Suggest is found in several products, it is particularly problematic in Chrome because Chrome features only a single input area, called the OmniBox, for entering both URLs and search queries. Chrome users are thus likely to send information about all of their Internet activity to Google, not just search queries.

Google says they will "anonymize" the data they collect:

To provide its recommendations Google Suggest needs to know what you've already typed, so these partial queries are sent to Google. For 98% of these requests, we don't log any data at all and simply return the suggestions. For the remaining 2% of cases (which we select randomly), we do log data, like IP addresses, in order to monitor and improve the service.

However, given the concerns that have been raised about Google storing this information -- and its limited potential use -- we decided that we will anonymize it within about 24 hours (basically, as soon as we practically can) in the 2% of Google Suggest requests we use.

But bloggers are calling bullshit:

Google has now revealed that it will change "some" of the bits of the IP address after 9 months, but less than the eight bits that it masks after the full 18 months. Thus, instead of Google's customers being able to hide among 254 other Internet users, perhaps they'll be able to hide among 64, or 127 other possible IP addresses.
By itself, this is a laughable level of anonymity. However, it gets worse.
First, remember that Google will not delete or anonymize user cookies from the logs when it slightly smudges IP addresses after nine months. Second, remember that as long as you use a Google Web property at least once every two years, the company will maintain a unique identifiable cookie value within your Web browser.

The alternative to Chrome is Iron but who knows if they can keep up with development. Chrome should have its own opt-out system. It's not hard to implement, and most people won't even bother to opt-out so they'll still get the data they want while protecting privacy of people who want that privacy. So why won't Google just do it? Don't be evil!

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