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[dupe] Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch (mercurynews.com)
249 points by rahuldottech on June 23, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 112 comments

Isn't this just a copy from Washington Post or something?

Not that bashing Chrome or Googme bothers me, I made my own attempt at that recently, but no need to discuss the same article twice?

Yep. Was posted yesterday[0] which was marked a dupe from the original washpo article[1] also posted a day ago.

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20247077

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20243473

Article behind paywall. Please stop doing this.

I don't think everyone reads wapo and many probably missed the previous time it was discussed.

When Chrome blocks ad-blockers as Google intends to do soon, I will entirely drop Chrome. And likely all of their services, as well: in for a penny, in for a pound.

I still can't find an alternative to Chrome's Dev console, especially for responsive design testing.

Firefox's version is alright at the moment, but not nearly as polished.

People bring this up but I just can't fathom how that can be an argument.

Just use both. Use firefox for everything but keep chrome for development and potentially any google services you use. You really want to segment that anyway.


I switched to Firefox once Quantum came out and never looked back, I do tend to use Chrome occasionally when developing web apps, but FF has been my main browser for a while now and I'm perfectly happy with it and the development features it provides. What I'm saying is you can still use Chrome for testing/development and FF for browsing (with respect to your privacy)

I mentioned this earlier, but you could try "Brave" (https://brave.com/) a web browser based on chrome. same features just less of the google-stickiness.

You can use Chrome (or Chromium) for development and Firefox for regular browsing. Is that a big deal?

Using chrome exclusively as a devtool is also an option, no? Anything else I’ll do on Firefox including containerized Google, Twitter and Facebook (deleted my account but using to block Facebook from any activity online that might be using them).

Which part of 'responsive design testing' in particular do you mean? I use devtools pretty religiously to check elements, but put responsivetester.net together a few years back for rapidly testing across multiple breakpoints. Then I'll use lambdatest.com (because it's wonderfully cheap) to actually device test prior to launch...

Well, as responsivetester.net uses iframes it will not work if the site is properly protected from click-jacking using the X-Frame-Options or CSP headers, and it will also not emulate touch scrolling/events. The devtools basically bring you a little bit closer to the real thing, although you still need to test with real devices in the end either way. As for how to use it see here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Tools/Responsive_De...

Maybe this event will cause an inrush of new devs for firefox and more motivation from the core team ?

Getting more and more people using Firefox will most likely improve the dev tools.

actually I find the Dev tools of Firefox Better that Chrome. Far more intuitive

Safari is great for responsive design testing.

Not on windows...

Well yeah ok, if a couple of frontend developers use this as a valuable, okay, granted.

What about Chromium?

The new Edge has an almost identical one...


Are you comparing a web browser to the Holocaust?

No, the surveillance.

Edit: Not the web browser. I believe the current surveillance practices are dangerous to a free world. Hence the analogy with the train that goes to a bad place.

And newsbinator was talking about some feature, which is important but nowhere near the main issue. Hence the comfy chairs.

Can somebody explain why am I being downvoted?

MS Edge is good.

And downvotes why? Because you learned to hate MS or because can't respect different opinions?

Yup. I've already moved to Firefox, using containers, ublock origin and auto-cookie-clear. Also moved away from Google to DDG. I HATE the stupid name, it's slow, and sometimes I still have to use the !g thing, but overall it's decent.

Google was a stupid name too (a deliberately misspelled googol) but hey, it stuck and people are used to it now.

But DuckDuckGo just doesn't roll off your tongue, does it? Brand names are totally allowed to be stupid, as long as they're pronounceable.

Why do you care what it's named? Set it as the default search engine, and just type your query in the address bar and you'll get the results. In fact whatever you typed in duckduckgo's search field can be typed directly in the browser address bar (including switches like !g or !im)

Or if you use it frequently, just type 'd' and it'll be the first result.

As for the name, I call it DDG, which is also what I call David de Gea :-)

Google was originally called 'BackRub'. I can only imagine the jokes and double entendres, which would have followed with that naming scheme.



Not only are they used to it, it's been added into the English dictionary: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/googl...

I've been using 'ungoogled chrome' which is a chromium built with adblocker within it and I've been quite happy with it.

I want to use that but sadly no Windows release for a long time


I might need to compile on it my own

Iridium looks outdated too https://iridiumbrowser.de/downloads/windows

Does it support macOS key/password store?

I think it does. It's chromium with all the google domains blocked/stripped within.

I already uninstalled Chrome everywhere except my smartphone. It pains me because Chrome's UX suits me better than anything else. But I can't fathom their decision.

I use Firefox on my smart phone since quantum. It's worth a try, I don't even remember the differences, feels like a drop in replacement.

I use focus and nightly too. I don't know why I keep chrome still on my smartphone.

They're both super nice... but really I liked chrome.

I wonder if a fork will occur to keep chrome manifest open to adblockers .. in which case I would be super happy.

You have a mobile browser without an ad blocker? Brave

It doesn't. The amount of rules you can stick in a Chrome extension is sufficient to block the majority of spam. Current block lists are mostly redundant and unoptimized.

This is true! Running extension JS on every request is a big performance penalty and rule based blocking is much better.

Why wait then.

Inertia, tbh.

And if you don't want to switch, there are things like privacy badger[1] and ghostery[2]? Although, strangely Privacy Badger does not seem to mention their chrome extension[3].

[1] https://www.eff.org/privacybadger

[2] https://www.ghostery.com/

[3] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/privacy-badger/pke...

These aren't really a replacement when the browser itself is compromised and the corporation behind it is leveraging it to try to take control of the web standards.

Isn't privacy badger going to no longer work on Chrome once the adblocker change rolls out?

>Our latest privacy experiment found Chrome ushered more than 11,000 tracker cookies into our browser — in a single week.

Firefox doesn't support cookies or what?

>Firefox isn’t perfect – it still defaults searches to Google and permits some other tracking. But it doesn’t share browsing data with Mozilla, which isn’t in the data-collection business.

Much worse, it shares browsing data, including full URL history, with third parties. https://blog.mozilla.org/press-uk/2017/10/06/testing-cliqz-i...

> Support for Cliqz integrated functions in Firefox is ending.


> Much worse, it shares browsing data, including full URL history, with third parties

Not on my Debian. Firefox is free software, the community can always work around bad ideas.

The irony of being prevented from reading this article because the site “sees you’re using an ad blocker”....

Good to see them squirm I guess, that's how you know adblocking is sound tool for fighting back

I am on FF with uBlock Origin and Ghostery and didnt have this problem.

Of course a browser made by the biggest tracking company in the world is surveillance software, what else would it be?

It sounds like the author doesn't quite know how cookies work. It's great that Firefox does cookie blocking by default, but it's not like not doing that is chrome-only -- and it's not chrome that's setting all these cookies, it's the internet advertising business.

It'd be more honest to write an article about Firefox breaking bad internet standards in the interest of the user, and another one about internet tracking being out of control.

Chrome has issues, and it'd be good if it blocked more cookies by default, but the headline here is way overblown.

The headline might even be apt with a different article! But it seems we all want to be believe the headline so much that we didn't read past it.

Edit: the article this was duped into has a much better headline.

Dear Firefox implement tab to search already. Yes you can do ‘similar’ things with ! but it’s really not the same. So many Chrome users staying for this feature. Solve it already.

I didn’t know what ‘tab to search’, for people like me this is the simple explaination I found:

> For example, whether it's YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia, or any other site with its own search function, all I have to do is start typing "yout," Chrome will automatically fill it out to youtube.com with an option to press Tab to automatically start searching youtube from the address bar.


The workaround in firefox is described in the above page, and basically pre-saving sites as bookmarked search engines.

Doesn't Firefox show you relevant open tabs when you type in keywords in the address bar?

They're probably talking about the other feature: choose/write the domain name in the search bar, press Tab, and if you have previously visited the site, and it implements the OpenSearch "standard", the search bar sends your input to the chosen site instead of the default search engine (Google or whatever).

I forced myself to forget about this, but I agree, this feature is so easy, elegant and useful, I'm surprised none of the browsers (last time I checked) had implemented it except Chrome.

Isn't this trope getting a bit redundant? It's like Gmail ca 2012 all over again.

Chrome is free software, you're not being forced to use it, there are alternatives, the most relevant ones are even using the same engine.

It's like everyone is trying to capture some unique visitors because they know it works: $service is spying on you.

The clue is in the title: It’s time to switch.

> the most relevant ones are even using the same engine

Firefox is very relevant.

Yes, you're not forced to use it so well-meaning advice to stop using it is welcome.

Also, Google isn't exactly a randomly sampled spying $service. It is probably one of top two offenders in this regard.

> Chrome is free software

When did that happen?

Chromium is free software. Chrome isn't, by any stretch of imagination.

> Chrome is free software,

Chrome might be provided without cost but it is certainly not free software. It is proprietary.

The word "free" has two meanings, he/she obviously meant it free as in free beer.

"Free software" has a very distinct meaning.


it's interesting how many people think paying with your privacy costs nothing.

completely serious question, what does it cost me? It's not like my data is some zero sum thing that vanishes once someone else has it, and it's not like I have the ability to directly sell it to anyone else. How in material terms am I worse off by anyone tracking me.

Isn't this all just entire ideological, I don't see what cost I incur if Google knows that I visited hackernews, listen to bowie on youtube and like podcasts

The cost is the risk of someone using your data against you in the future, against your will.

For example, even seemingly benign page visits, like apolitical YouTube videos and shopping data can probably be combined with location history to infer political affiliation with good accuracy with some basic machine learning. That kind of data only needs to be collected once, and it's out there forever.

Now imagine the wrong authoritarian party gains access to such data in 5 or 10 years, and now knows that you've spent your life going to church and watching gun videos, or that you visited a planned Parenthood clinic and listened to a strongly liberal artist.

Google and a few other gigantic corporations are clearly aiming for a much larger power grab in the future, with their own money, hardware, complete control of the software stack, the web, messaging, transport, etc. In this future, a corporation becomes indistinguishable from a government and this is the long term cost. It's hard to see if you're only paying attention to immediate cost on the scale of a year or few.

Privacy in an individual context is irrelevant and only leads to folks glibly claiming they don't care about their privacy. Its like saying I personally doesn't care about the environment. That context and framing is wrong and misleading.

Privacy has a value on a one to one basis. That's why no one is going to give you their phone, yet they will make dissonant statements online. And privacy has a far higher value on a societal basis for a democratic society.

Surveillance capitalism is anti-democratic, hugely abusive and solely for the profit of a few. These are bad actors. That's why societal rule of law needs to kick in but as we know money and greed creates its own logic so that may take time. And till then there will be no shortage of apologists with a vested interest in surveillance trying to 'normalize' it.

Curious, what does it cost?

I was starting to think I was the only one against these claims.

There's no one pushing Google down its users' throats. Yet people ask Google to behave like they want. Well, surprise! Google is a private entity and they'll do whatever they want. If you don't like it, leave. I left a long time ago but I believe these claims are unfair to Google.

We are being bombarded with "Google's x product is a monopoly". No they are not. There are tons of alternatives to anyone of Google's services. The thing is, they do it better than their alternatives. Free market, my friend.

If x alternative to a Google's service gets better, people will gravitate towards it. But don't ask people to drop the better product in order to give (undeserved) attention to the not-so-great one. Earn it!

People also complain about Google making their services' sites suck on other browsers. Well, their site, their rules. Not so long ago all online services had dedicated clients instead of web apps. Those apps weren't called "monopolies", yet there was no alternative client. Because the root of the monopoly argument lies in the "service", if there are no alternatives to the "service", now we are talking, but there's no monopoly in the "client". If you don't like the "client", drop the service.

Unfortunately, your narrative fails due to the existence of standards and governments. Having a large enough market share and capital allows you to manipulate both to your advantage.

This weekend I started my degoogling. Gmail and Chrome are gone. Let's see if I can survive for a week.

What's your gmail migration strategy? My primary email is hosted @gmail.com -- and I need a reliable way to transition this to my own domain on a trusted (and 3rd world priced) provider.

Forward to the new address, unsubscribe from all the crap and change my address in every website that I care about. For humans I still don't know, I guess I will start writing from the new account and if they don't take the hint, I will tell them explicitly.

Forward your emails, while sending an automatic reply that your email address has changed.

I don’t recommend the automated reply, that lets anyone who happens to come across your gmail address, find your new address, friend or foe.

If you are forwarding it, you will know who to reply to and let them know to update their address book.

How about Amazon Workmail?

What did you / can you replace Gmail with? I have pretty much 10 years of Gmail history.

I recommend Fastmail. I've switched to it from Gmail last year and have easily moved about 10 years or archives. There's an easy built in import tool.

Fastmail's HQ is in Australia, and Australia's encryption law are dystopian. Make of this what you will.

Ok but what makes you trust Fastmail more than Gmail, while it's clearly advertised as a safe haven away from prying eyes?

Protonmail. From what I've understood, tutanota is better but I'm also a German resident and they are based in Germany, so better have a provider abroad than at home.

I give you a precious bit of information than blew my mind: if you move to a new email, you don't have to nuke the previous one. You can still access it and lose nothing important. I had 10 years of history too and yesterday I had to lookup a receipt and I was like: "ah, it's all still there, the email apocalypse that I envisioned was all in my head".

I wonder if the same applies to "Brave" ? (the browser built on top of chrome).

I stopped using chrome for a while and have been using Brave.

We scrubbed and stubbed chromium front end code of all sorts of stateful requests to gstatic and other Google domains. We have Mark Pilgrim (11 years on Chrome at Google) working for us along with top people from Igalia. We've little-snitched as well as grepped. Some of the signaling bottoms out in common objects, which make stubbing easy. Anyway, we've nullified all the surveillance.

A note on this WaPo story: I spent an hour with the reporter on the phone on 6/13 and practically wrote whole sentences in the piece. I've been calling Chrome spyware since last year. For some reason the piece ended up excluding not only Brave but Safari, which has deep anti-tracking history. Anyway, the story is getting out, and consciousness does not go backward.

Brave is built upon Electron, which is built upon Chromium (not Chrome). Electron and Chromium are both open source, unlike Chrome, although development is still concentrated in Google and GitHub/Microsoft. So I imagine it's fine unless something egregious happens with those projects and there isn't a strong enough community to maintain a clean fork.

> Brave is built upon Electron, which is built upon Chromium (not Chrome).

Brave has been built directly upon Chromium since December 2018[1].

[1] https://www.computerworld.com/article/3328781/brave-browser-...

Oops! I actually thought about double-checking that before writing it, but I vaguely remember reading some list of reasons why they had initially gone with Electron instead of Chromium, so I assumed it was still true.

Brendan Eich is against LGBT rights. For this reason I will never use Brave.

Here's the first link from a search https://www.reddit.com/r/BATProject/comments/9tsg2h/i_didnt_...

Wrote a little note on the same day about switching to Firefox https://dev.to/dtroode/why-you-need-to-give-firefox-a-chance... Hmm

I saw one of the other posts go by and briefly scanned it.

On this occasion:

* I immediately closed Chrome I was using to read the post,

* unpinned Chrome from the dock leaving only Firefox, and reopened my page in FF.

For some reason, the third time something clicked.

Best of the lot is Safari if you are on an Apple device.

I don’t know why you’re getting downvoted.

It’s slow to adopt new standards and a pain to develop for, but as a bit of consumer software it’s the best browser out there IMO.

And by far and away the most energy efficient, which is pretty relevant for most Apple devices. It's currently my main browser and has been for a while.

Source? That would be highly surprising.

Source: me. It's not a small difference, it's literally hours of battery life – or at least was last time I compared. Why would you be surprised? Note, though, that my browsing habits are very messy – I habitually have a number of windows open, some with many tabs. So if you're a neater sort you may not notice the difference as much. Also I haven't tried the most recent versions of Chrome, but I assume I would have heard something if they'd gotten that much better.

You're an interesting data point then. It's surprising because chromium has an order of magnitude more developers dedicated to optimizations. Webkit ~= 200K commits Blink ~= 800K commits

I wrote my original comment imprecisely and without caveat because I was under the strong impression that it was well-known and uncontroversial. I'm definitely not the only person that has observed this. This is the first result for me for "safari chrome battery life": https://www.howtogeek.com/273606/the-best-web-browsers-for-s...

I don't see why number of commits would be anything but an extremely weak proxy for estimating power consumption, certainly not anything to cause surprise. A very strange thing to say by a self-described "rationalist". "Optimizations" is a very wide term you've used. Unless you are specifically targeting power consumption, it's quite possible to optimize for speed and markedly increase power consumption.

Probably because Safari is IE6 of today. That's pretty much as far from "the best" as it gets.

Even as an user, if I want adblock, it will launch separate application, with separate dock icon. That's so un-Apple, as if they didn't want you to use it.

The problem is mainly that the user interface is in my opinion horrible. Especially for new users (I've helped a few newbies), it's hard to see the tabs and to be aware that the browser created a new one.

From my limited experience using it (while teaching an intern how to do web dev), the Dev Tools are horrible and byzantine for some use cases - seems like while Chrome super charged their Dev Tools after the blink fork, Safari's got stuck in the past.

I find Firefox's Dev Tools far better, except the JS debugging tab, which is behind Chrome's on almost all counts.

I stopped using chrome when it started to mess with RAM

Is there an alternative to Chrome’s profiles?

Give the Firefox Containers a try - they are a far better experience than Chrome's profiles IMO. You can define multiple containers for different use cases or personas, and all the browsing and history and cookies from that persona stays within that container only. There is even a special Facebook container, which always opens Facebook in a separate container, so FB can't track you across different sites.

I am quite satisfied with Firefox's Multi-Account containers. As an added bonus, tabs associated with different containers can share the same Firefox window.

It's not exactly the same though... I have clients where we access a Google account, which has access to Google services... it's like synching a whole Google eco system. Everything is staked on the Chrome login - Gmail, Analytics, Tag manager, password synch...

It could be undone, but those frackers at Google make it so easy. And so much is built off of Gmail as the mail service.

Also, there's `firefox -P <profile>`.

Are Google Chrome's practices allowed by EU/GDPR?

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