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Google could abandon Chrome automatic login



Matthew Green
Green, a security and cryptography expert and professor at Johns
Hopkins University.


  • Google has indicated it will make changes regarding the
    new and controversial automatic login feature for the Chrome
    web browser.
  • After just over a decade on the market, Google made a
    controversial change to Chrome: If you signed into YouTube,
    Gmail, or any other Google-owned site, it would log you in on
    the Chrome browser itself with the same account. 
  • Security analysts, including Matthew Green, said the
    automatic login resulted in less security for Chrome users —
    when you’re logged into Chrome, it keeps track of your browsing
    history and other information.


Parisa Tabriz, director of engineering at Google Chrome,
indicated on Tuesday that the company is ready to make changes
involving a controversial new Chrome feature that some security
researchers have called
a threat to privacy

In an Twitter
, Tabriz, who calls herself the “browser boss,” said:
We’ve heard — and appreciate — your feedback from the last
few days, and we’ll be making some product changes.” 

Tabriz offered no specifics about the changes.

On Sunday, Matthew Green, a cryptography and security
researcher as well as a professor at Johns Hopkins University, on
Sunday helped bring to light that Google had quietly begun
logging users into the Chrome browser without their knowledge or

In a blog post
titled, “Why I’m done with Chrome,” Green
wrote Google tucked the login change into the latest Chrome
update. The way it works is that anytime someone logs into one of
Google’s properties, such as YouTube or Gmail, they will
automatically get signed into Chrome.

For years, Google has given users of Chrome, the world’s
most popular browser, the option of surfing the web without
logging in. What’s important about that is that users had to
login first and then consent to the sync feature before their
private browser history was shared with Google.

Because Google was logging in people involuntarily, and
because of changes to the sync-consent page, it had become much
easier for users to accidentally agree to share their browser
histories, Green said.  

Tabriz said Google made the login change to
“clarify when you’re signed in/out of the browser as
well as Google websites.”

Green was skeptical and said Google’s reasoning made no

Green’s blog stirred debate
among Chrome fans, with many not seeing the change as a problem.
Still, dozens of others criticized Google via the social
networks. On Tuesday, some Chrome users were exchanging
on Twitter on how to disable the auto-login

One of the main questions of the critics: Why would
Google’s managers make this change without notifying users?
Answers are not immediately forthcoming.  

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