The Chrome browser is powerful, fast and amazingly popular. The reason is it’s backed by Google and It has a lot of features, plugin support, and themes but there’s one thing that makes it not so good in terms of privacy and in this post you will learn what it is and what to do about it.
The browser lets you sync your bookmarks, tabs, locations, and other data to another chrome browser on a different computer or a mobile phone only if you login into chrome with a google account. It also helps you backup your passwords, plugins, browsing history and other things.
What is there to worry about?
There’s nothing big to worry about it’s just a few simple tweaks for privacy. Take a look at the image below. There is some information that reaches google servers without you noticing. Let’s take care of it.
These settings you see below in the image are enabled by default and give the browser the unlimited power to collect any information and send it to google servers until you manually take a look and correct it. Let’s take a look at each of them one by one and understand what it all does.
These screenshots of settings page were taken on chrome ver: “75.0.3770.142 Official Build (64 Bit) which is the latest at the time of writing.
1. Autocomplete Searches and URLs
This option when enabled sends cookies and searches from the address bar and search boxes to the default search engine which is Google in this case. So any web address you enter reaches the google servers even when you do not want that.
2. Show suggestions for similar pages when a page can’t be found
This option let’s Google know of any non-existing pages on the web and then they use this information for removing links from their search results but it also sends information of each and every URL you visit throughout the day, ultimately tracking your usage history and other data.
3. Safe Browsing
This is the Google website blacklist service that displays warnings on sites that are marked inappropriate by other users. Sometimes this may be problematic for few but if you’re unsure, I suggest you disable this one.
4. Help Improve Chrome Security
When enabled, chrome sends websites you visit and other system information to Google Servers. As said in the text below. It sends system information, page contents etc. I suggest you disable this option.
5. Help Improve Chrome’s feature and performance
When enabled, chrome sends usage statistics, crash reports data and other un-ncessary user information automatically to Google Servers. This includes your page content, memory information related to the crash, payment information & passwords. This was said by google itself, checkout the link here. You should disable this option immediately.
6. Make searches and browsing better
This option also allows the chrome browser to track and send websites you visit Google. Take control of your privacy by disabling this option.
7. Enhanced Spell Check
This is good but too much from a browser, there already are plugins which do the job better than this one. This option ultimately captures and forwards each keystroke you make inside the browser to Google servers, just in the name of spell-check. This is too much for most users and depends on your use cases.
What do we understand?
It seems clear and also well-known that Google is very hungry for data and it does not leave any stones un-turned in making the effort to gather it anyway but as a smart user it is our responsibility to take care of our activities. Some of which are (already) stored on the Google servers which you can see through by visiting the Data & Personalization section.
In the “Data & Personalization” section in you google account setting, you can see what information was sent to the server and stored in the account if you want to you can manually delete those stored details but that does not guarantee it is removed from the google servers but still good. Also there are options for activities you do not want to be stored. You can simply disable the ones you do not want to.
And at last, I suggest you, take a look at the Google’s privacy index https://www.google.com/chrome/privacy/index.html to check if something was missed.
Also there’s guide here that suggests Top 10 Mozilla Firefox Plugins for Privacy Concerned Users. Take a look if you are a firefox lover.