Google Exposed for Harvesting User Data — Why You Should Disable Chrome
In a recent interview with Forbes, security researcher Tommy Mysk discussed an extremely concerning way that Google Chrome harvests Android users’ data.
The news comes just over a couple of weeks after it was revealed that Facebook was secretly collecting users’ data by accessing the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer. The Facebook app was using the accelerometer to track people’s movements and monitor their behaviors. This data can even be used to pinpoint people’s locations in relation to one another, whether they know each other or not.
Well, it turns out that Google is doing the exact same thing, and they’re not shy about sharing the data with others.
Mysk told Forbes that “the motion sensor is accessible to all websites in Android/Chrome by default”. And perhaps what’s even more worrying, is the fact that Chrome can still access motion sensor data even when it is being used in private browsing mode — or what Google calls “incognito”.
In his interview with Forbes, Mysk went on to explain how he and his team were able to test Android’s data-harvesting capabilities. His team implemented pedometer functionality in an app and discovered that even without the app being open, user accelerometer data could still be collected because the data harvesting logic was implemented as a background process, meaning it would always be running.
Google is the market leader in online advertising, and it has been for over a decade. In 2020, Alphabet, the holding company for Google, generated a jaw-dropping $147 billion from Google’s ads business. To put it simply, your data, and how it can be used by advertisers to deliver targeted ads to you, is very, very valuable information to Google.
As Mysk explained, the motion sensor — and the data it collects — is freely accessible to all websites that request it in Chrome by default, meaning you don’t even get a chance to consent to the sharing.
Fortunately, however, the default setting can be disabled, and Mysk strongly encourages every Android user to do so. If you’re an Android user and you value your privacy, please follow the instructions in the video below. The video was posted to Twitter by Tommy Mysk.
Still not feeling confident in Chrome? Here’s how to disable Chrome on Android
With Chrome being a default Android app, it isn’t possible to uninstall it, but you can disable it. Here’s how:
1. Go to Settings.
2. Select Apps.
3. Scroll down to find Chrome and click on it.
4. Select Disable.
Protecting privacy is massively important. If you found this article interesting or useful, please share it with anyone you know who has an Android phone!