...the question foremost in a lot of people's minds is: "if I'm using this new Google browser thingy, how much information is it going to be sending to Google as I browse?"
The answer, suprisingly, appears to be "not a huge amount"
. At least, a reasonably trustworthy person at Google assures us so. I'm sure that nonetheless, a slew of very un
trusting people are going to be closely monitoring what the browser does just to make sure. I shall await their results, but I don't expect there to be any unexpected dodginess.
Anybody who has a Google search bar installed, or has Google set as their default search in Firefox, should be aware that any search terms do go to google already, even before you hit "enter". This is how it comes up with that nifty list of auto-suggestions. With Chrome (a.k.a. "that new Google browser thingy"), the search bar and the location bar are merged into one. So if Google is set as your default search (and note that this can
be changed, even to the likes of Microsoft Live Search), then Google will be sent every URL you type, as you type it.
This is not something I personally like, so I'll probably turn it off when I install Chrome (and I will have to, eventually, due to my work). Which is a shame, because auto-suggestions are nifty.
So, in conclusion, Google Chrome gets a "meh".
What all this debate over Google is distracting from is Internet Explorer 8, that other browser that is in beta at the moment. IE8 has a feature called "Suggested Sites", which it describes in the following manner:"Suggested Sites is an online experience designed to show you which websites you visit most, and to provide you with suggestions of other websites you might be interested in visiting."
Those paying attention will already see the problem. The policy continues:"When you turn on Suggested Sites, your web browsing history is sent to Microsoft, where it is saved and compared to a frequently updated list of websites that are similar to ones you visit often. You can choose to pause or stop this feature from sending your web browsing history to Microsoft at any time. You can also delete individual entries from your history at any time. Deleted entries will not be used to provide you suggestions for other websites, although they will be retained by Microsoft for a period of time to help improve our products and services, including this feature."
As of a few days ago, when I first discovered this aspect of IE8, I didn't see any other sites flagging this up in red letters. Now there are one
pages crawling up Google's search results.
This really should be brought to people's attention. If people know exactly what the feature does, and are still okay to make use of it, then fine, I'm not going to push my own standards on them. But not everybody will
know what it is doing behind the scenes — especially those without a computing background.