Chrome Privacy

Dave Winer ends an otherwise quite reasonable piece about his concern at Facebook’s “frictionless sharing” with a non sequitur attack on Chrome for, as far as I can tell, nothing it’s actually doing:

One more thing. Facebook doesn’t have a web browser, yet, but Google does. It may not be possible to opt-out of Google’s identity system and all the information gathering it does, if you’re a Chrome user.

Ben Brooks picked up on that, adding:

Read Winer’s take on this, it’s pretty creepy of Facebook — what’s more scary is the possibility of Google doing this to Chrome users.

A direct response to this sort of speculation about Chrome’s potential for evil, slipped in as a conclusion to a discussion about an unrelated company being evil, is difficult, so let me step back a bit. Chrome founded a privacy team here in Munich back around the release of Chrome 4. I’m proud to be a small part of this clever group of developers who care about making Chrome’s use of data transparent, and giving you control over how it’s used to whatever extent possible. We build APIs that enable privacy-relevant extensions and apps to fine-tune a browser with an already good set of privacy features, and review features built by other teams for potential impact on user’s private information. I’m biased, but I think we do a decent job.

So, to Dave, Ben, and everyone else: If you see Chrome doing something you don’t like with your information, or you have specific questions about some feature or another, send an email to the team at, or to me directly, You can also file a bug on the public tracker at and mail me the bug ID. I’ll make sure it gets triaged into the right team.

With that in mind, here’s a direct answer to what I think is being criticized: The browser doesn’t secretly send information about your browsing habits to Google, nor will it. The feature that comes closest is Sync, which is a) opt-in, b) encrypted locally before being sent to Google, optionally with a password separate from your Google account.