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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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September 3, 2008 4:26 PM

Google taking heat for Chrome's privacy

Posted by Brier Dudley

Google's new browser is getting as much scrutiny as McCain's Thrilla from Wasilla.

In response to some of the questions about the "Chrome" browser's privacy, Google has already revised a spooky user agreement it recyled for the software's launch.

Google search guru Matt Cutts is also responding with a flurry of blog posts, such as one titled "Preventing Paranoia: When does Google Chrome talk to Google.com?"

CNET's Ina Fried pointed out that Chrome will actually talk to Google.com a lot, if users don't change its default settings. From her piece on the Chrome's "Omnibox" feature:

"Provided that users leave Chrome's auto-suggest feature on and have Google as their default search provider, Google will have access to any keystrokes that are typed into the browser's Omnibox, even before a user hits enter.


What's more, Google has every intention of retaining some of that data even after it provides the promised suggestions. A Google representative told CNET News that the company plans to store about 2 percent of that data -- and plans to store it along with the Internet Protocol address of the computer that typed it.

In theory, that means that if one were to type the address of a site -- even if they decide not to hit enter -- they could leave incriminating evidence on Google's servers."

Cutts acknowledged that "Chrome will talk to the current search service to try to offer useful query/url suggestions."

His take: "I love this feature, but you can turn it off."

UPDATE: Matt suggested an elaboration in a comment below ...

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