When Google released Chrome 69 earlier this month, the company highlighted the web browser’s updated user interface and new features for searching, saving passwords, and more.

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.

This is the message I saw when logging out of Gmail in Chrome 69

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).

via ha.X0.r.be, Hacker News, and @matthew_d_green

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10 replies on “Chrome 69 effectively requires you to stay logged in (if you want to use any Google services)”

  1. And don’t forget there are still public computers (in libraries, schools, internet coffee places, etc’). There you’ll find simple users, unknowingly leaving all their bookmarks, history, etc’ to the next person… A heaven for mal-users…

  2. Is it just me, but I don’t want my 20-something browser tabs I’ve been kept open on the desktop for ages to automatically sync with my mobile (and vice versa – my zero open tabs on my mobile to replace my 20 open tabs on the desktop) – for simple reasons like convenience and resources?

    1. This. Install and set up about one half dozen browser and use each according to its strengths and weaknesses

    2. I’m not sure it’s that extreme. If you have 100 sites you’ve visited on your desktop it will autocomplete to those sites on mobile if you start typing in the address. It’s not going to open 20 tabs on your phone.

  3. I use Chrome but this is EXACTLY why I don’t trust Google. Thanks for the tip as I hadn’t noticed it yet. It’s not the fact that they are doing it, it’s the fact they didn’t announce it. This isn’t 1 of those situations they can just say blame on a mistake or rogue employee (like when political biases get exposed, similar with Twitter).

    Personally, I wouldn’t trust incognito mode either. I use Firefox in “always forget” mode for anything privacy related.

    Why didn’t you recommend Brave?

  4. Well, you can also control what is sync’d in the settings. I would think you can just turn off syncing and sign in and out of services as you like. I haven’t tried it though. I’ve been logged in on Chrome as I use it for a long time now. So no change for me anyway.

    1. Correct. The settings page is chrome://settings/syncSetup .

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