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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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  • 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. []

  • Re:Correct (Score:4, Informative)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:29PM (#31695076) Journal

    I'm assuming you didn't actually read the article because you wanted to look like a jackass.

    And what did you wanted me to read about it? This?

    We downloaded Fiddler to make some comparisons of our own. As we suspected, Chrome can be set to send information on every keystroke to Bing (or any other search engine that supports Search Suggestions) instead of Google. The same behavior occurs in IE8, but only in the search bar. LePage is only correct in his assertion that IE8 does not send information to anyone when the user types into the address bar.

    The last sentence is a major point.

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

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> 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 [].

  • Re:Look.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:41PM (#31695246) Homepage

    Bu not Opera Mini, which routes all your traffic through their proxys. [] (third question).

  • Re:Correct (Score:2, Informative)

    by Handlarn ( 911194 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:43PM (#31695274)

    Except that they filter out any user data and passwords when they publish the search terms. Any other situation would have generated a huge outcry by now. Try finding any login information this way yourself and you'll notice it can't be found.

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

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .werdnaredne.> 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. []

  • Re:Look.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by jo42 ( 227475 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:47PM (#31695330) Homepage

    And when you looked closer, you saw that Flash was taking up 99% of those resources in Firefox.

  • Re:this is news? (Score:3, Informative)

    by kronosopher ( 1531873 ) <> on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @07:50PM (#31695354) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • Easy Fix (Score:2, Informative)

    by kemushi88 ( 1156073 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:00PM (#31695470) Homepage
    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"
  • Re:Look.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by AaronW ( 33736 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:02PM (#31695488) Homepage

    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 your setup. For me, it's much much faster than Firefox, especially when I have a lot of tabs open.

    The difference is even more apparent on my I7 desktop. Firefox seems to be single threaded whereas Chrome will make use of all of the cores and threads.


  • Re:Bogus argument (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:05PM (#31695514)

    "And Saved. Forever." is FUD. Google has a 9 month retention policy for search data:

  • 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 [] (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 on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:08PM (#31695542)

    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.

  • Re:Look.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:08PM (#31695546)

    Trust me, it's slow as balls EVERYWHERE. It sits there at "resolving host" for anywhere from 2-3 seconds to 60 seconds or more before I give up. Sometimes the page loads, sometimes I close the browser in disgust.. and when the page DOES load, it's so slow loading that I want to claw my brains out. here's the background color. wait for it... Here's an ad at the top. wait some more... Here's the left frame. wait a little bit more, ah here is the page text.

    I'm running this on a 3.8ghz multi-core cpu with 4gb of ram under a modern 64bit OS, but chrome makes me feel like I've got dialup in 1998 again.


    I'm not hitting obscure sites here.

    I just went and got a stopwatch (ok, I used my Droid's stopwatch app) to time it here. Chrome took 42.837 seconds to load facebook's login page. not my home page with tons of updates, graphics etc. the LOGIN page. Firefox loaded the same page in 1.112 seconds. Bit of a difference there.

    Even reloading forum pages I've got open (i.e. 90% of the page is cached, and the rest is simple text) is an exercise in frustration.

    I don't know what Chrome's problem is, but I don't care to ever find out because I've got FF handy which works wonderfully.

  • Re:Look.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by victorhooi ( 830021 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:10PM (#31695578)

    I think there must be something funky in your setup. Like, 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 synthetic benchmarks as well as user experiences all show it to be meaningfully more performant.

    Cheers, Victor

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

    by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:34PM (#31695800)

    No, actually I didn't look closer, because it doesn't really matter specifically which part of the application or which plugin is causing the problems, does it? The end result is the same. If Flash was such a problem then I would expect the same memory usage in every browser using Flash. In fact, considering the fact that other browsers use the exact same plugin which Firefox does for Flash, but don't exhibit the same problems, doesn't that sort of rule out Flash alone as the culprit? Wouldn't it be more likely that the problem is a combination between Firefox and something else? The common denominator is Firefox, not Flash.

  • by Rhodri Mawr ( 862554 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:49PM (#31695950)
    If you want to use Chrome without Google spying on you then use SRWare Iron instead. This page details the major differences between the two Chromium sourced browsers: [] Download SRWare Iron here: []
  • Re:Correct (Score:2, Informative)

    by Aikar ( 1158019 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @09:09PM (#31696084)
    Wrong For one, google only saves QUERIES as the "trends" etc for auto complete. When you type [] the browser realizes this is a real address and goes straight to it... now if you type plain 'slashdot' into the url bar, it will then query google, I hate to tell you guys a little secret, Firefox does the EXACT SAME THING!
  • Re:Not Correct (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @09:38PM (#31696276)

    People might not go into the "Options" screen, but anyone doing something they want private has a fair chance of using the "incognito" feature which has all of that type of stuff disabled.

    Personally, I think the URL suggestion thing is helpful and will continue to use it.

  • *source code* (Score:5, Informative)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <> 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Correct (Score:3, Informative)

    by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @10:30PM (#31696574)

    Not really. is something you might type into the url bar that would pose a very real security threat when shared. Google search terms are automatically published and your login information would be accessible to anyone.

    Considering that Internet explorer stopped supporting that method of sending credentials in 2004, I don't think its an issue. [].

  • by Spewns ( 1599743 ) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:22AM (#31697308)

    So then what is a good browser? I do value privacy so I don't use Chrome (I figure google can have either my search history or web browsing history but not both, and adblock for Chrome really sucks). I hate ads so I don't use Opera (the adblock solution also sucks). I don't care about bloat, but I do care about speed, and firefox is the slowest of the main browsers I use (I do not use IE8). The four things I care about are security, ad-blocking, speed, and privacy. It looks like this is another case of "choose 3 out of 4".

    1. Take off the tin foil hat and spend 5 seconds disabling whatever it is that offends you in the clearly labeled and displayed Privacy settings in Chrome.
    2. Download a good hosts adblocking file [].
    3. Download a good extension that'll hide the blocked elements and text ads [].
    4. Enjoy using a blazingly fast and responsive, free browser.

    Or if you're still paranoid that Google is using Chrome to hijack your life, you could even do this:
    1. Download Opera.
    2. Use this guy's stuff [].

  • Re:Look.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:41AM (#31697416) Journal

    Don't use Windows, I use ubuntu 9.04

    The most likely explanation for your troubles is the problem that recent Ubuntu releases have with IPv6 with some non-conformant (but very common) home routers. Here [] is the Launchpad bug for this.

    If so, the reason why Firefox works fine for you in the meantime may be that you have network.dns.disableIPv6 option enabled in it (check in about:config).

  • Re:Not Correct (Score:3, Informative)

    by Undead Waffle ( 1447615 ) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:51AM (#31697472)
    I still prefer the way Opera does it, which is if I want to search I can type "g " or "y " to search google or yahoo. I use this all the time. This way if I want to search using the bar it is explicit. On the other hand most people wouldn't bother to figure out such a feature even exists...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @12:54AM (#31697494)

    I only use Chrome for surfing porn, because it helps to have all the cookies, etc, enabled and safe from IE exploits. Because I only use it for porn, I'm not worried about cookie crossover from porn sites to email/banking/slashdot/etc.

    I use Firefox for all of my serious browsing - i.e. anything that isn't porn and requires a password - because I can use "Request Policy" and "NoScript."

    For casual browsing, I use IE but I have everything disabled (no javascript, no active x, etc.)

    I encourage others to do the same... let chrome be the default browser for all your porn and return to firefox (with all of those lovely addons to give real security) for your serious stuff.

  • 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.

  • Re:Correct (Score:2, Informative)

    by red456 ( 1760250 ) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @06:57AM (#31698934)
    don't think you understand the issue. if you have history turned on, Firefox save your history to your places.sqlite file. if you subsequenty decide to 'remove your history' it might delete rows from the db, but the data is still available in the file - until sqlite overwrite it - which may be 'never' if you turn off history completely if i have a bookmark setup and then decide to remove the bookmark some time later, why can everybody still see what i've chosen to remove in the bookmarkbackups directory? you seem to have a problem with what the word 'remove' means

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray