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Microsoft Claims Google Chrome Steals Your Privacy 522

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft is going on the offensive against Google, accusing the search giant of creating a browser that does not respect user privacy. The company posted a video, embedded below, on TechNet Edge with the following description: 'Watch a demo on how Google Chrome collects every keystroke you make and how Internet Explorer 8 keeps your information private through two address bars and In Private browsing.' Microsoft's first criticism is Chrome's combining the address bar and the search box into a single entry box; IE8 keeps those fields separate. 'By keeping these boxes separate, your privacy is better protected and the addresses of the sites you're visiting aren't automatically shared with Microsoft, or anyone else,' says IE product manager Pete LePage."
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Microsoft Claims Google Chrome Steals Your Privacy

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  • Correct (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:11PM (#31694870) Journal

    Pete LePage is spot on with this. The privacy intrusion by Chrome is outstanding. Every key you type to the address bar is sent to Google. Your Chrome installation has an personal UI number to track where you downloaded Chrome from, wherever you use it and how you use it.

    I am still surprised how many people (even here on our geeky slashdot group who should know better) choose something based on it being offered for free, no matter what happens to their privacy. The same people who complain about casual people using Facebook and how much information they're putting there, and not realizing how much privacy they are losing by using Google's free products and search engine.

    It's a known fact that every software needs to be funded in some way. Personally I rather choose a paid solution where I know my privacy wont be lost and I can save documents, emails, etc on my own hard drive instead of relying on cloud computing and all the marketing and privacy intrusion to make it possible. After all Google is a marketing company while Microsoft is an software company. The fact they're doing business by selling me a product instead of whoring to advertisers kind of shows that.

    • Re:Not Correct (Score:5, Insightful)

      by parallel_prankster ( 1455313 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:18PM (#31694946)
      Did you not read TFA at all ? You can not only choose which search provider to use the search suggestions, you can also turn off search suggestions in chrome !!
      • Re:Not Correct (Score:5, Informative)

        by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:45PM (#31695300) Homepage Journal

        Chrome actually has a bunch of fine-grain privacy controls they added in the last release.

        http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/more/privacy.html [google.com]

      • Re:Not Correct (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:53PM (#31695398) Homepage Journal

        I've read the title of the summary, and dismissed it as an especially smelly load of swine shit. Every browser has it's own issues, and the user should be familiar with them. Yeah, all the browsers tend to keep records that are unnecessary. All the browsers tend to report data that is unnecessary, to websites, to developers, to the authors, if left on default settings.

        But, for MICROSOFT to point fingers is just preposterous.

        Maybe they can try again in 10 years, after they've created a clearly superior browser. I mean, CLEARLY superior to anything else on the market. When those of us who really dislike and/or hate microsoft HAVE to admit that their browser is at least as good as any of the competition, THEN MS can find fault with the competition.

        Wait - did I say "10 years"? Hmmmmmm. More than likely, browsers will be obsolete before Microsoft makes the browser that is clearly superior to any competition that can be found.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by galego ( 110613 )

        Exactly ... and as for suggestions ... they may be sending requests with keystrokes, but I would imagine they are not 'storing' them along with their order and identifiable data (They could be, but I doubt it). I would think that would be too unreliable and risky in terms of performance. Firefox does essentially the same thing via it's search box when Google and/or Yahoo are selected.

        I bet they do store *queries*. A Request does not automatically equate to storing something in a database. Do MSN/BING/Yahoo

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:20PM (#31694972)

      Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

      The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

      And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

      My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

    • Re:Correct (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:21PM (#31694994) Homepage Journal

      Personally I rather choose a paid solution where I know my privacy wont be lost and I can save documents, emails, etc on my own hard drive instead of relying on cloud computing and all the marketing and privacy intrusion to make it possible.

      You do that. I'll stick with Firefox, thanks.

      • Re:Correct (Score:5, Interesting)

        by red456 ( 1760250 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:01PM (#31695478)
        do you not think that Firefox is becoming the new IE? If I can remember correctly through my drunken history of the last 8 years, Firefox was first promoted as an alternative the bloated Mozilla - and quite rightly so. Recently though, despite all the releases and the announcements on brand new 10x-faster JavaScript interpreters I find it's bogging down to an almost unusable level.
        Once upon a time there used to be configuration to permit or deny javascript to run - now this is split into 12 different parameters, 7 of which are hidden behind the about:config screen. The default is now for pages to be able to open windows hiding the menu and status bar. WTF?
        Once upon a time there used to an option to open new pages as a tab or in a new window - now this is split into 2 different parameters (browser.link.open_newwindow and browser.link.open_newwindow_restriction) which make no sense to anybody.
        Do you expect 'backspace' to go 'backwards' in your browsing history? Everybody does - on all browsers, except for the Linux release of Firefox - for no understandable reason they decided that the Linux Firefox should do nothing upon pressing backspace, but all other versions should continue the convention.
        Do you actively use the overly complicated features of the re-written Bookmarks functionality on Firefox 3.x? I don't, nobody in my office (20 people) does. Everybody hate it.
        And lastly... privacy. Firefox 3.x made a real big push for 'privacy'. They said 'you can toggle private browsing on and off' - and 'you can delete browsing history over the last hour, day, month etc..". SUPER LIE. Try deleting your history (everything!) then go to your .mozilla/firefox/{UID}.profile directory. Now...try running 'strings' on your places.sqlite file and try running strings on the files in the bookmarkbackups directory. Yeh, privacy, HUH?
        • Re:Correct (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Trinn ( 523103 ) <livinglatexkali@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @11:11PM (#31696884)

          I've accidentally gone back while filling out a major form (that won't remember its state on a click of forward) enough times to want to simply remove the backspace key from my keyboard. I am happy to hear someone's getting rid of this asinine default. cmd/alt-left/right are fine. backspace has a specific meaning that has nothing to do with history navigation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          do you not think that Firefox is becoming the new IE?

          Well, seeing as Firefox supports HTML5 and web standards well enough for me to create pages that work as well in Firefox as they do in Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc... ...and said pages break in IE, and only in IE...

          When Firefox starts breaking the fucking Internet, it will be the new IE, and not before.

    • by Lux ( 49200 )

      I have no idea why people who wouldn't buy a television that was designed, built, or sold by an advertizing company so commonly choose to use a web browser that was designed, built, and given away for free by an advertizing company.

  • Look.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:12PM (#31694884)
    Even if Chrome -was- violating your privacy, why switch to IE? Especially when there is Firefox... Myself I don't like using Chrome because it is not customizable the way Firefox is. You can't even change history settings on Chrome!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Well, that and your keystrokes are sent to Google...

      • YOU CAN TURN IT OFF. (Score:5, Informative)

        by ivucica ( 1001089 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:58PM (#31695454) Homepage
        Unless you go to Preferences->Advanced and turn off the appropriate option in the Privacy category.

        Or am I missing something major here? Is it possible that most people on /. didn't see that option? I saw only a comment or two mentioning that.
        • by tftp ( 111690 )

          Unless you go to Preferences->Advanced and turn off the appropriate option in the Privacy category.

          It would help if you were a bit more specific what browser you are talking about, and what the "appropriate option" is called. There is nothing like that in Chrome; no "Preferences" in FF; and IE has "Tools | Internet Options | Advanced" and there are 50 options; which one is appropriate is anyone's guess (and none of the categories is called "Privacy".) If you name it then it's possible to debate its va

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I don't like chrome because:

      A. It's incredibly god damn slow, like the "I'm sure this must be broken, it's so amazingly slow". I was having a problem earlier with a page in firefox, so I loaded up chrome to see if the page had issues there. It was so slow that I gave up, loaded up my 10.04 beta VM, loaded up firefox in that, and checked the page there. It was faster to do that. really. REALLY. I'm not kidding.

      B. "Adblock" in chrome is trash. The ads are still there, they're just not flashing at you. If I mi

      • Re:Look.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zegota ( 1105649 ) <rpgfanatic@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:41PM (#31695242)
        Are you kidding? That first comment surprises me. Speed is the reason I switched to Chrome. It's so much faster than Firefox, it's not even funny. It sounds like the single page you tested your speed premise on had some issues. You might want to expand your sample.
        • Agreed. Speed is the main reason I switched to Chrome. Speed is the main reason why everyone I know who has switched to Chrome decided to switch.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AaronW ( 33736 )

        I love Chrome because it's so fast and doesn't have all the bloat that's crept into Firefox. It's more stable than Firefox and I like the single search bar. Granted, I still think it could use improvement in a number of areas, but Firefox also has a lot of really annoying quirks to it.

        On my netbook I will only use Chrome. It's far more efficient with the limited screen real estate than Firefox, plus with the slower processor the difference is night and day.

        Something is really wrong if Chrome is so slow on y

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by victorhooi ( 830021 )

        I think there must be something funky in your setup. Like, really...lol. Chrome is blazing fast where I am - on work computers, on my laptop (under both Windows 7 and Arch Linux). Firefox, on the other hand, feature-packed as it can be, is a bloated nightmare, chewing up RAM, and lagging like molasses. It's fine when your number of tabs is low (I think I'm not the only one, popular consensus with me is on this, pretty much everybody that tries it finds Chrome to be faster - feature-lacking yeah, but s

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 )

      Even if Chrome -was- violating your privacy, why switch to IE? Especially when there is Firefox.

      This may come as a huge shock, but not everyone likes nor enjoys using Firefox.

      • by 16384 ( 21672 )
        And besides, who sponsors firefox? Various google "features" creep into the browser, and it takes some effort to disable them. I still use firefox though (what else is there, really?).
  • Let me introduce you to Mr Kettle. But, you two should be very well acquainted by now anyway.

    If this is the best MS can do then they need to work on their game. I expect the whole MS/Apple/Google wars to get ugly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ironhandx ( 1762146 )

      The unfortunate thing here is that when it comes to google, they really don't have much else.

    • Exactly. While it's not nearly so explicit, MS has been able to collect the web addresses you enter into the address bar. Ever fat finger an address? Ever get sent to a MS search page instead? Enough data on typos can give you some good data on the addresses you meant to type in.

      Google went the next step and does the search on all addresses, not just bad ones. People also enter addresses into the search field, too. It's just that Google made the relationship between the address bar and search bar more

  • this is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alen ( 225700 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:16PM (#31694918)

    Google wants to know everything you do. from the user opinions i've read about the Nexus One it sounds like Google is doing the same thing there. Along with Google Wave. they want to know everything you type in and keep a record of it

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Google Wave uses AJAX to show other users in your wave what you're typing as you type it. This does not mean "they want to know everything you type". It's a feature, and a tool. Like any tool it can be used for both benevolent and malevolent purposes, but itself is not inherently either.
  • Bogus argument (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:18PM (#31694940)

    "By keeping these boxes separate, your privacy is better protected"

    Umm, the boxes are all controlled by the same program, so whether or not there is physical separation between them (does that have any meaning in a user interface?) has nothing to do with whether or not the data is collected or not.

    This guy is a product manager?

    • Re:Bogus argument (Score:5, Informative)

      by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:30PM (#31695092) Journal

      Umm, the boxes are all controlled by the same program, so whether or not there is physical separation between them (does that have any meaning in a user interface?) has nothing to do with whether or not the data is collected or not.

      And you don't understand the problem. This isn't a trust issue with the Chrome application. If it was, you would have lost the battle as soon as you installed it on your computer. This is a privacy problem (a recurring theme with Google's applications).

      The issue that MS is pointing out is that because Chrome combines the address bar and the search box, when you start typing hotmidgetoatmealpor, that information is sent directly to Google so they can do auto-completion/auto-searching. Where it is associated with you. And saved. Forever.

      In IE, the search box is a separate entity, and you can turn search suggestions on or off for each search provider. Because of this, the only information sent to MS (or whatever search provider you use) is what you type in the search box. You can visit whatever URLs you want to and Bing/Yahoo/Google will never know about them.

      Honestly though, I still struggle to figure out what the point of search suggestions are. I suppose they're helpful for people who don't know what they're looking for, but when I go to Google, I already know what I'm going to search for -- that's why I'm there! That said, I suppose it does provide some entertainment [googlelolz.com].

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        Just as a side point- there's some browsers such as seamonkey which use a single edit box, but don't do search hints, and thus don't send the per keystroke data to google. This is my preference- less UI clutter with total privacy.

      • by D Ninja ( 825055 )

        Because of this, the only information sent to MS (or whatever search provider you use) is what you type in the search box. You can visit whatever URLs you want to and Bing/Yahoo/Google will never know about them.

        Or, so Microsoft says. They could still be sending data behind the scenes and just not showing you that they're doing that. (And, I realize you are saying this is a privacy vs. trust issue - to me it's sort of the same thing.) Not being visible in the user interface != not happening at all.

      • Re:Bogus argument (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:05PM (#31695520)

        The issue that MS is pointing out is that because Chrome combines the address bar and the search box, when you start typing hotmidgetoatmealpor, that information is sent directly to Google so they can do auto-completion/auto-searching. Where it is associated with you. And saved. Forever.

        From Google's Privacy Blog [blogspot.com] (in 2008):

        That's what occurs on the surface of Google Suggest. Here's what happens under the hood. To provide its recommendations Google Suggest needs to know what you've already typed, so these partial queries are sent to Google. For 98% of these requests, we don't log any data at all and simply return the suggestions. For the remaining 2% of cases (which we select randomly), we do log data, like IP addresses, in order to monitor and improve the service.

        However, given the concerns that have been raised about Google storing this information -- and its limited potential use -- we decided that we will anonymize it within about 24 hours (basically, as soon as we practically can) in the 2% of Google Suggest requests we use. This will take a little time to implement, but we expect it to be in place before the end of the month.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You can un-check the option to use the auto-completion suggestion service for anything you type in the omnibox. Its under Options->Under the hood. At least, that's the case for the latest beta releases. I just started using Chrome and have only used the latest beta software, which is extremely stable.

  • by kaffiene ( 38781 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:20PM (#31694984)


    I don't care. I know the deal with Google. Everyone knows the deal with Google - they mine your data so they can target ads, you get useful software.

    I don't mind Google's targeted ads so I feel no need for a tinfoil hat over this one.

    If Google were trying to break into my bank account, I'd be worried, but I don't fear non-obtrusive advertising.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rivalz ( 1431453 )

      I'm with you and to be honest it is more about perception of the company than anything else really.

      When I upgraded to IE 8, their questioneer about what I want IE to do. Everything microsoft related was disabled.
      If google wants to collect data I could care less because I have a fuzzy warm trust feeling when I use their software.
      Microsoft on the other hand I feel like I have to keep them at bay.

      Same with other companies even ones I trust to provide antivirus software, handle my accounting ect. I just don't p

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 ( 928602 )

        "If google wants to collect data I could care less because I have a fuzzy warm trust feeling when I use their software."

        What happens when they burn your trust? Bit late to take all your information back. Oops.

        That warm fuzzy trust feeling...its called good will. They are trading on that. Its an entry on their balance sheet. Its valuable to them. But they'll sell it tomorrow for the right price.

        What if they're hacked (again)?

        And who knows what direction the next CEO will go? What if their advertising revenue

    • I'd rather have Google get my information that all the malware using the frequent IE exploits. That may eventually change, but currently ... I'd stick with Chrome over IE.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:27PM (#31695054)

    Has anyone ever tried to implment the Microsoft privacy policy? Here is one guy who did. [privacy.net]

  • Chrome under Linux. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:28PM (#31695066)
    I use Chrome under Linux simply because the fonts look beautiful. I also never type stuff into the address bar - that's what all my bookmarks are for. When I actually am looking for something I use, tada, Google anyway. I am fully connected to a whole wack of Google services so I'm sure they know everything I do. So what. Google is benevolent and any information that could actually be used against you will be gathered anyway by someone with the motivation and resources no matter what browser you use. Now if I get a shiver up my spine I go into the tools menu and choose: "Incognito Window" and for every keystroke being entered into the address bar you can turn that off as well by turning off the suggestion service. So, if you don't use it correctly when privacy matters to you then there are privacy concerns. If you change the convenient settings the privacy concerns go away. Harping on Chrome for its suggestion features is a straw-man, if you want to talk real privacy issues then you talk about Cloud services themselves and laws about whether or not warrants are needed for them and also under privacy you talk about how easily compromised the browser is to leak your information. The address bar and suggestion services are just cross-camp sniping: they are easily changed to what you value if you have half a brain cell. Marketing.
    • So far, I consider the services I get from Google to be a fair trade for the information they get from me.
  • Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nashv ( 1479253 )
    Oh, so you mean the morons who are typing "My bank account number is 223344" or "My credit card is visa 2303232300022000 from citibank with cvv 100" into the address bar of their browser have a serious problem ?

    Gosh, who knew.

  • If you search for everything with google anyways this shouldn't worry you. If you send data to your ISP unencrypted which almost everyone does you shouldn't be too worried. If you allow cookies this shouldn't really bug you. If you use facebook/myspace or some regular social media you shouldn't care at all. I'm sure there is a long list of other crap invading your privacy as well. I'm not saying it doesn't matter, I agree with MS. Just, there is lots of crap data mining you, live with it or become a hermit.
  • Let's try to think clearly here.

    Microsoft seems to be saying that you have more privacy when you type a URL into their address bar.

    But that just means that your DNS server is now the "evil" thing that knows every place you've visited.

    And of course your ISP can trap every URL you access.

    So if you use Microsoft's model, you've just hidden from Google, but still exposed to your perhaps Ma and Pa ISP and DNS providers.

    another web page.

  • So, if I get this right... when you use Chrome, you're in risk that it will track your every Google search, your every Gmail mail, your every YouTube video, your every Blogger comment, your every Google Groups post, your every Picasa picture, your every visit on sites using Google Analytics, and while we're at it, they also have a deal with Twitter to get your every tweet and they crawled your every website page.

    In short, Google got you long before you started using Chrome. Using any other browser. You may

  • Just when you think you've seen everything from Microsoft they go and outdo themselves. They really are a bunch of obnoxious motherfuckers, who wouldn't know quality or taste if it slapped them in their monkey-dancing faces.
  • Spin (Score:5, Funny)

    by vikstar ( 615372 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:58PM (#31695464) Journal

    Earlier that day at Microsoft...
    "Hey Pete, we can't get the combined search and address bar to work properly"
    "Hmm. Ok, don't worry, we'll just spin it as a security feature".

  • Easy Fix (Score:2, Informative)

    by kemushi88 ( 1156073 )
    At least on the OS X version...

    Preferences -> Under the Hood -> Uncheck "Use a suggestion service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar"
  • So Chrome is a keylogger. Most of the new commercial stuff probably is. Nobody seems to care enough to do some deep checking...

  • actually as someone who has researched this , Microsoft are actually correct, and Google are the bad guys here, sorry to break it to you, but whats the difference between a company worth $billions and $slightly less Billions, so exactly why do you trust Google more than Microsoft, did Ms rob your house last and torture your kitten, I see nothing but sheep here at slashdot, i fear google far more than MS,IBM or Apple (last one open to debate). time for a new search engine as that's all they really do and it
  • *source code* (Score:5, Informative)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <almafuerte&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:05PM (#31696428)

    What a lame attempt, microsoft ...

    1) - If you use explorer, you are using windows. The chances of someone exploiting your browser and getting access to all your files is 90%
              - You can use Chrome in Mac or GNU/Linux. Both Chrome and your OS keep your data secure

    2) - I have the source code for Chrome (Chromium) and I can study it, make sure it's safe, or change whatever I want. Also, I know the community has reviewed it, and the company is not trying to hid anything behind a binary
              - I don't have the source of explorer, and microsoft has a huge history of phoning home and spying on users

    3 - Chrome is standards compliant, so there's no vendor tie-in. If I find something I don't like, I can move on to another browser
              - Explorer is platform specific, and non compliant with standards. That means, if I develop anything for it, it'll probably be incompatible with other browsers and moving away will be hard.

    Sorry microsoft, Google published the source code for their browser, it's well developed, multi-platform, they'll take my patches and if they are good implement them on their source, and they are open and transparent about everything the browser does. They are doing all the right things, and I just love this browser.

    • Re:*source code* (Score:4, Informative)

      by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @02:52AM (#31697964)

      Did you even read the article? Did you even read the summary?

      Yes, you may be able to get the source of Chrome, but you don't have the source of the search provider that it connects to. Microsoft's point is that if you're using Chrome, any URL you type in is sent to Google (by default, anyway) and you don't know what happens to information when it gets there.

  • So...Use Iron (Score:3, Informative)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:15PM (#31696476) Journal

    Use SRWare's Iron.

    It's google Chrome without the reporting bits (and actually with newer rendering java, so it's actually faster).

    It's screamingly fast, and emulates IE-dedicated pages (including nasties like MS Webmail) far better than Firefox. I love it.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp