Google’s new browser Chrome is causing quite a stir, especially among people worried about privacy and security.
As I have mentioned in my previous article about Chrome, every installation of Chrome receives a unique ID number, which is submitted to Google, for example when the browser is updated or when the program crashes. In order to present personalized suggestions while the user is typing into the Omnibox, Google relies on an outside database. To feed the database and make these personalized suggestions possible, all entries are logged in combination with the user’s IP address.
Although Google claims that the ID and logs from the Omnibox are stored anonymously and are not being used to create user profiles that may reveal browsing habits and personal interests, doubts remain. As a matter of fact, users do not have any control over what the gathered information is really being used for. Trust is good, control is better.
Here are three things you can do, to gain more privacy when working with Chrome.
I. Change your default search engine
Go to >Customize and control Google Chrome >Options >Basics tab and select another search engine under >Default search.
II. Disable the suggestion service
Next to the >Default search engine click the >Manage button. In the Search Engines window uncheck the box at the bottom of the list that says “Use a suggestion service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar”.
As you may see in the screenshot above, Chrome has imported all my search engines from Firefox.
III. Remove the unique browser ID
There are two ways. Either you do it manually or you use a tool. Tech Yard has a thorough walk through on changing the ID manually, and preventing Chrome from re-assigning an ID later on. Tech Yard also recommends the tool, which provides a new exe file to be used to launch Chrome to create an anonymous session.
Alternatively, you can use UnChrome from Abelssoft. However, the tool is only available in German at this point. Since the file path in both XP and Vista is definitely different compared to the English version of the operating system, it may not work.
Latest news has it that Google now wants to save the user IP for only 24 hours.
On a different note you should know Google has released a new version of Chrome to fix at least two security holes. If you see version 0.2.149.29 in the About section, the update was installed successfully – automatically and without you knowing. Very comfortable. Again this is taking responsibility and control away from the user, which can be both a good and a bad thing. I remain sceptical. How about you?