Is Chrome Spying on You?

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The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog
has called on Google to amend several features in its new browser that,
they claim, seriously compromise your privacy on the Web. You may have
noticed that whenever you start typing into Google’s search field, the
site starts suggesting topics for you. Google is, in fact, recording
and storing every keystroke you type, regardless of whether you hit the
search button or not. The company also stores your IP address, which
can narrow your physical location down to within a block or two. In
short, Google has compiled a profile of who you are and what you’re
like, along with a damn good idea of where you live. If the government
would like to know as well, and can get their hands on a subpoena,
there’s not much you can do about it.

This isn’t exactly news; Google’s been doing this for quite some
time. But everyone knows Google is doing this, so if you’re planning to
surf the Web with Google, you’re at least forewarned that your Internet
privacy is a joke. With Chrome, it’s a different story. Chrome has an
"incognito mode," which theoretically preserves your anonymity. But as
Consumer Watchdog points out, the mode often switches off automatically
without your knowledge. You may think you’re surfing the Web without
someone looking over your shoulder, but the reality is considerably

Consumer Watchdog has called on Google to display the incognito
button prominently and remove any chance of hiding it behind pages of
irrelevant text. It has also demanded that the incognito become a
toggle switch, staying on until users explicitly choose to discontinue
it. In fact, Consumer Watchdog wants an incognito button for all of the
company’s applications, including Gmail. At a minimum, they insist,
Google must more prominently warn users that their keystrokes are being
stored somewhere.

Needless to say, Google hasn’t exactly agreed. Consumer Watchdog has
now launched a campaign to pressure the company into complying, and
they have created an online form letter for
users to send to the company. They’ve also produced a short film on how
Google is keep tabs on what you do—which, of course, they’ve posted on

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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