One change Google didn’t explicitly call out? Starting with Chrome 69 any time you login to a Google website you’ll automatically be signed into the browser. Logging out of one will also log you out of the other.
That might not sound like a big deal: if you’re using Google’s browser there’s a good chance you may also want to use Gmail, YouTube, or Google Maps, right? But there are some interesting implications to the new behavior.
Google still lets you use the Chrome web browser in two modes: Basic or Signed-in.
If you’re signed in, Google will save your browser history, bookmarks, currently open tabs, password and autofill data, and other settings to the cloud. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for users since it allows your data to be synchronized between devices, allowing you to pick up on your phone where you left off on your PC, for example. But it does mean Google has access to some of your most personal data.
Update: Google’s Adrienne Porter Felt points out that the change was made to make it easier for users to see when they were logged into Google services… but that logging into a Google service on the web will not automatically start Chrome’s browser synchronization. That requires an additional step. The Chrome privacy notice has been updated to reflect this.
Basic mode, meanwhile, allows you to surf the web with data stored only locally on your device. Your browser history, cookies, passwords, and other data is not shared with Google’s servers.
So… if you like using Chrome because it’s a fast, convenient browser but you’re not thrilled with the idea of sharing your data with Google, you can continue to use the browser without signing in.
But… the moment you login to a Google website, Chrome 69 (or later) will sign you into Chrome using the same account and begin sharing your browser history and other data with Google.
It’s not hard to imagine a situation where you may want to use Gmail or Google Maps, but don’t necessarily want to share all of your browser data with Google. But now the default is that if you want to login to a Google web service while using Chrome, you’ll also be logged into the browser.
There are three workarounds I can see:
- Open an incognito window every time you want to login to a Google service.
- Toggle the chrome://flags/#account-consistency flag (it’s not clear if this will always be an option).
- Use a different web browser (such as Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, Pale Moon, Edge, or Safari).
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