EARLIER THIS WEEK, Google was under fire for a sneaky change in Chrome 69. Hidden behind the new curvy tabs was a profound change in behaviour where you would be automatically logged in to Chrome as soon as you hit a Google site, be it Google, YouTube or Maps.
Chrome uses the same accounts as Google, and the rationale, according to the company, was to avoid data leaking between accounts on shared computers. Chrome users were nonetheless alarmed, as this would theoretically make it far easier for Google to link browsing data to individual people.
Well now Google has backed down - kind of. Chrome 70 will feature a very clear opt-out to the feature, the company has explained in a blog post. "We've heard - and appreciate - your feedback," Chrome's Zach Koch writes, announcing changes that will "better communicate our changes" and offer "more control over the experience."
In other words, it's a "sorry you didn't understand" rather than a "sorry we screwed up." But hey, at least things are changing as a result.
First off, there's a simple toggle which turns off the feature. We say "simple", it is hidden away in the "privacy and security" menu which only a certain type of person ever visits, but still: it'll be there, should you want to press it.
Finally, Google is changing how it handles auth cookies. Currently, Google auth cookies are kept so you stay signed in when cookies are cleared. In future when cookies are deleted, you'll be signed out.
"Chrome is a diverse, worldwide community, and we're lucky to have users who care as much as you do," Koch writes. "Keep the feedback coming," he adds, though carelessly omits to mention where that feedback should be delivered. No comments on the Google blog, y'see.
All these features will be coming in Chrome 70, which will arrive in mid-October. If you can't wait until then, it's possible to make Chrome 69 behave more like the glory days of Chrome 68 if you really want. Head to "chrome://flags/#account-consistency" and disable the setting that reads "Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar" and automatic sign-in will vanish. µ
So that's why she's smiling…
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Alexa, is this exploitation?