So in the last day or so a few things have come to my attention. It seems Chrome has some issues and their name is Google. In the past Google has often been accused of serious privacy violations. Many of those were completely unfounded, the ones that had some basis were generally not a result of Google doing something but concerns about the type of information Google stores. Chrome is a victim of both Google policy and gathering far too much information. That second one doesn’t sound so bad right?
Too much information doesn’t seem like it could be a bad thing, until you realize that it’s conceivable that a hacker might be able to get at that information. Your entire search history, including secure sites, is what Chrome indexes. Go ahead, go to your banks website, log in and check your balance. Now type balance into your search bar and click on the “recent pages in history” link. On the resulting page you’ll probably see some of your account information right there. That information is stored on your harddrive, in files it’s conceivable a hacker could get to. While it’s not a specific security hole, we all know someone will eventually find an actual security hole in Chrome. In fact two have already been found, neither really all that bad, but it shows security holes are everywhere. These security holes are nothing new, not even anything to get excited about (similar flaws were found in the first release of Firefox 3). What happens when a real hole is found though? The information Google indexes is stored in an easy to find folder. Should this cause a freak out? Certainly not, but it’s something that should be addressed especially in this day and age. So there is no immediate danger and as I said yesterday, if Google responds to the risks efficiently enough we’ll be ok. The other issue is far more disturbing, at least to me.
Google has really outdone itself. In the first version of the End User License Agreement (EULA) for Chrome, they actually secured rights to reproduce anything you submit through Chrome. Any text you wrote they could reproduce royalty free. Wow, just wow. Imagine being a writer and using Google docs. Big consequences. Google has since removed the wording from the EULA, but I believe the damage is done. What kind of “do no evil” company puts that in their EULA? How is it ok for them to have the rights to everything else another person writes through their browser? There seems to be a growing mentality at Google “whatever it takes”. Googles goal is to index everything, not just on the internet but everywhere and be able to use it however they want.
I’m all for free information and I think copyright laws, as written, are stupid, but I don’t think anyone should have to rights everything ever written. Sorry Google, you’re starting to lose sight of your motto as you reach for your goal. It seems power does corrupt, I’m starting to wonder if Google can get back on track.