Google Chrome is Dangerous

I recently read Farhad Manjoo’s drooling review of Google Chrome, naming it “the best browser on the planet”.  Maybe it is.  But it’s also the most dangerous.

The reason is one particular “feature” that Google Chrome has that other browsers wouldn’t dare.  In Firefox, there is a big box on the left where you enter the URL you want to go to, and a smaller box on the right that does a search.  Chrome merges the two boxes into one.  As Manjoo puts it:

Type in an address or a search term and Chrome will figure out what you want. Indeed, Chrome does something even better—it gives you search results right in the bar. Type in “jd salinger” and the first result in the drop-down list is the Wikipedia entry on Salinger. Want to visit your favorite political blogger? Type in “nate silver” and you immediately get a link to Silver’s site, Fivethirtyeight.com. This is a terrific way to navigate the Web—you never have to remember URLs, or even the names of sites, and you don’t even have to make a stop at Google to find what you’re looking for.

Sounds great, and fairly innocuous.  Except, as more people rely on Google to navigate the web, Google gains more control over where people end up.  At some point, entering a URL directly will become quaint – why bother typing “http://www.facebook.com” when you can just type “Facebook” into Google?  That’s already a trend that I’m seeing more and more of.  Chrome takes this a step further, by making the address bar of the browser identical to the Search box on Google’s home page.  In this manner, Google is setting itself up as a proxy for the rest of the internet.

Note that this argument leaves aside the question of how wise it is to tell Google every site you visit, since, using Chrome, every request now goes through Google first. That is, I’m not even getting into the vast privacy problems here.

My main concern is that, given a certain critical mass of Chrome usage, Google can simply “disappear” a website it doesn’t like, and Chrome users would have no way to get to it.  Even if you entered the site’s URL directly into the box, it would still be going through Google.  Your access to information will be completely dependent on what Google wants you to see.

I’m not worried about anything for the next few years.  Chrome doesn’t have the market share to allow Google to exercise this kind of power.  The backlash would be too great if they tried that now.  But make no mistake, Google’s aim is to take complete control over the internet.

What makes this even more disturbing is Google’s parallel goal of putting everything on the internet.  Just a run-through of Google’s “free” services belies their agenda.  Assuming Google took complete control of market share with all their services, they would have access to/control over:

  1. Your documents
  2. Your calendar
  3. Your email
  4. Your phone service
  5. Your website’s traffic
  6. Your entertainment
  7. Your access to news
  8. Your access to maps
  9. Your health records

Again, it’s not clear what Google is doing with all this information.  Right now, they’re just biding their time, building market share, and collecting.  And this is not about advertising.  Advertising is small potatoes compared to the real power Google is slowly amassing – control over everyone’s information, information that we are voluntarily submitting to it.

I don’t care how good or fast or free Chrome is.  Google is already too big and too dangerous for us to allow Chrome to be our primary gateway to the internet.

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20 Comments on “Google Chrome is Dangerous”

  1. T says:

    And I’m paranoid?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Posts Google, Tweeter Lover. Tweeter Lover said: Google Chrome is Dangerous « Daniel Tsadok's Weblog: The reason is one particular “feature” that Google Chrome has… http://bit.ly/bovmNA […]

  3. AndrewCase says:

    I thought very similar things when they released their DNS service. But, wouldn’t you still be able to get to something directly (despite it’s new URL bar and DNS service) if you know it’s IP address? Everyone knows their favorite sight’s IP right? So what’s the problem? ;-)

    • Michael Cole says:

      ” Everyone knows their favorite site’s IP right?” Er … I doubt whether 5% of internet users know what an IP address is, let alone how what to do with it.

  4. AndrewCase says:

    How I Became (Mostly) Google-free in About a DayHow I Became (Mostly) Google-free in About a Day: http://zenhabits.net/2010/03/google-free/

  5. […] seems like every couple weeks I’m hearing new tales of how our privacy is being digitally stripped away from us. And the only thing we can really […]

  6. […] 7, 2010 I recently wrote about the potential dangers of Google’s Chrome browser to user privacy. However, Google has […]

  7. magg0thead405 says:

    truly i think this guy seems a little paranoid but I have to agree that google is starting to gain a little too much power over the internet

  8. Antony says:

    Power is good as long it is in safe hands. You wont blame the President because he has power, but you will blame him when he abuses (or does nothing) his power.
    The same goes with Google (or anybody) . So stop being paranoid and don’t fret around about your privacy. You don’t know what stupid things you do to jeopardise your own privacy.

    • Who’s to say what “safe hands” is? No, I don’t have complete blind faith in Google, or anyone else collecting information about me. There’s always a chance that sensitive information can be used in a way that causes harm. I originally wrote this post because non-technical people I was speaking with didn’t realize the extent of data collection that goes on in a typical internet session today.

      I highly recommend Steve Rambam’s “Privacy is Dead – Get Over It” talk, which provides a bigger picture of the potential dangers of tracking.

      • As long as I agree with both of you, I would tell you, Daniel, to provide some source of abus (? not sure for this one…) from Google. Those same non-technical people you talked with deserve to have every informations in their hands, not just the demon-ish ones.

        (Forgive my attempts to construct some expression. I’m a silly french guy who think being smarter than he really is ;))

  9. Jim Guderjohn says:

    I’m a “no nothing” where computers are concerned but I have long been concerned with the emerging power of Google – – and I use Google as my primary email. I had to do some looking to find a commentary about the danger associated with Google’s data gathering. I appreciate Daniel’s article. Google’s information gathering seems so relentless and it is out of the view of the public. We have no idea what their “end game is”. They may have good, rational intent now but what will the intent be five years from now, or twenty years from now? I am not the paranoid type, but I think this is really spooky.

  10. […] seems like every couple weeks I’m hearing new tales of how our privacy is being digitally stripped away from us. And the only thing we can really […]

  11. Thanks for posting, Jim!

    Adrien, I have no such evidence of abuse. My intent is not to demonize Google, which is a company that tends to do a lot of good, but to try and make people aware of the extent of the data collection that is happening.

  12. Kevin says:

    You guys make it seem like the end of the world.You crack me up.

  13. Mr. Noetol says:

    It’s not paranoid. He’s speaking the truth. It’s so easy for people to throw that term around when unpopular opinion is being demonstrated but don’t let big corporations fool you; Google is most likely using this information to build enormous profiles of all of its users. Imagine the selective advertising… They’re one step away from invading our dreams ala Futurama. Yes, I know that sounds paranoid. But think about it.

  14. tlwsyf says:

    Yes, you’re totally right but currently the best browser solution is Chrome. For this reason I recommend SRWare Iron. Because their privacy policy doesn’t like Google. It’s quite well alternative for Chrome.

    Aww, and I recommend StartPage for searches. Their privacy policy is unbelievable and their results of course getting from Google.

  15. jah rastafari says:

    Your predictions are coming true. Core Google products (search engine, youtube) are starting to crumble in terms of functionality. The internet is becoming so centralized on Google services that they’re beginning to censor and control everything.

    Try searching for things you used to years ago.. they aren’t there anymore. For example: It’s impossible to get good quality music videos of older songs on youtube, and since youtube is all we use anymore all the old resources are becoming extinct.

  16. Naruto Uzumaki says:

    Google can simply disappear a website that is doesn’t like? Well you know what this article should be one of the articles that google chrome does’t like.. still it didn’t disappear. I AM READING THIS ARTICLE IN GOOGLE CHROME! According to your article this website has to be deleted by google. Its simple google does’t delete any website that it doesn’t like…


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