“Google seems to be hiding,” Chrome rival Brave warned this week, as the trillion-dollar tech giant quietly confirmed a shocking update for 2.6 billion users. “Google is buying time to regroup,” Brave said, “to consolidate its control over web tracking.” If you’re a Chrome user, this nasty new surprise is a genuine reason to quit.
We already know that Chrome harvests much more of your data than other browsers. And now a critical update to stop you being secretly tracked online, an update that was due in just a few months, has been delayed by at least two more years.
Third-party tracking cookies are sneaky little spies on your phones, tablets and computers, following you around, reporting back to their masters—it’s the tech that built up the vast targeted ad industry. But as Firefox developer Mozilla warns, this “ubiquitous surveillance is used in ways that harm individuals and society… The advertising ecosystem is fundamentally broken in its current form.”
You don’t want hidden tracking on your devices. Your browsing and transactions recorded. Your identity “fingerprinted” by vast databases mined by billion-dollar algorithms, shaping how you shop, vote, think. Survey after survey find that “most of us do not want to be spied on online, or receive ads based on tracking and profiling.”
Google is the gorilla in the cage here. Chrome dominates the browser market, with a staggering 60-70% market share. Most of its revenues come not from apps and services, but from selling access to you and your data, targeting you with ads.
Google admits the problem is out of hand. This “proliferation” of harvested user data, it said back in March, has “led to an erosion of trust… 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or others, and 81% say the potential risks from data collection outweigh the benefits.”
But until this week, Google has been telling us that it’s fixing the problem, delivering its self-styled privacy first web. “Chrome [has] announced its intent to remove support for third-party cookies” by early 2022, the company assured us in March. “We’re…