back to article Awkward. At Chrome summit, developer asks: Why should anyone trust Google?

Google held an online Chrome Dev Summit last week, including an "Ask me anything" session in which the company was posed some awkward questions concerning its browser standards strategy. "It's difficult for developers to meet growing expectations for privacy," said Barb Smith, global lead for Chrome and web platform …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trust Google?

    Are they mad?

    The moment you trust any big-tech company then you are a lost cause.

    Google will sell your soul to the highest bidder time and time again. They are in a race with Fecalbook to the bottom in terms of benefits to humanity.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Trust Google?

      Unfortunately most of us are forced to trust Google to some degree.. At least the other tech companies are avoidable, but Google is insidious. It has complete control over your Android device and all apps on it. Many of us are forced by our government to own a smart phone of some kind. Nobody can avoid needing to use email, web search, etc.

      • Facebook: Easy. Just don't use facebook.
      • Amazon: Don't use it.
      • Microsoft: Run Linux. Use GitLab. Suspend your LinkedIn when you're not actively looking for a job.
      • Apple: You joined the cult, you are a lost cause, serves you right.
      • Intel: Well, as long as the CIA or Mossad aren't after you, you probably have nothing to fear from them.
      • Google: Bend over. We're not evil, remember. Trust us, this won't hurt a bit.

      But can anyone really get around having a Google account? Short of running your own mail server, they are a better option than using an ISP or Employer's email service. Even Google Search is becoming impossible to use without being logged in and tracked.. "Sorry we can't verify that you are over 18.." (even if you ARE logged in with an account that you've had for 20 years)

      And of course, anyone stupid enough to use OnmiAuth puts Google in control of their secondary accounts too.

      And even if you use none of that, you still get forcibly redirected to AMP.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Trust Google?

        I know someone will be along in a minute but...

        ...several in my family run Android phones and don't have a Google account. Ok, so the phones are still under Google's wing, but they work well enough. My own phone runs LineageOS without any GApps. I've never had a Google account.

        Yes, I do run my own email server, but I also have email via a third party which is absolutely not Google.

        And, of course, I don't use Google search, at least not directly.

        M.

        1. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: Trust Google?

          But how often do you all bump into a web site that demands you enable a Google captcha before they will deal with you?

          Do you all ensure that the even more ubiquitous google-analytics is disabled, even on sites which ought to know better (and I'm looking at you, Vulture Central)?

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Trust Google?

            But how often do you all bump into a web site that demands you enable a Google captcha before they will deal with you?

            Far too often. Sometimes even for read-only access! I really don't understand that.

            Do you all ensure that the even more ubiquitous google-analytics is disabled

            NoScript is your friend. (Or at least, it's mine.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Trust Google?

              Does TheRegister require going through a reCaptcha to create an account?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google Captcha

            how to avoid? Quite simple really

            Just go elsewhere and blacklist that site.

            I'd been a member of a forum for years and years and then they go and implement Google Captcha WITH a 15 min timeout on logins.

            I took the hint and walked away. Many others did the same. The site changed hands several times and became more 'googly' every time it did. Shame really but that's life.

          3. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Trust Google?

            Google captcha

            Rarely. I'll decide on a one-by-one basis if the website I am accessing is important enough to need Google's scripts to be enabled for access, but I genuinely can't remember the last time a capcha frustrated me. Usually I meet them on some entirely trivial website that I'm only visiting because something piqued my interest or I followed a link from a link.

            google-analytics is disabled

            google-analytics and doubleclick are just some of the permanent blocks NoScript is responsible for.

            Look, I know I am not entirely invisible to Google, but it's surprising how many people think it's impossible to avoid Google so it's not worth trying, or who believe that the web will fall apart if they block Google's scripts and trackers, when those assumptions aren't entirely correct.

            M.

        2. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Trust Google?

          Yes, I also run /e/os although I do have a google account (which is not linked to my phone). However I suspect we are in a minority of less than 0.1% of Android users who are running OpenGApps.

          It means that I also have to trust a 3rd party App store, which is not ideal but no worse than trusting Google. I wish that I could build apps from source on my Linux PC and remove all the shitty trackers from them, but I don't know how to do that and very few Android apps are open source.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trust Google?

          Judging by the downvotes there are some Google shills out and about.

          Google is evil to its rotten core.

          More and more people are realising that fact and looking elsewhere for services. The same goes for Facebook etc.

          These nasty businesses will find it harder to get fresh blood to rape in the future and that is a great thing IMHO.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Trust Google?

            Judging by the downvotes there are some Google shills out and about.

            Google is evil to its rotten core.

            It is possible that people who have a less extreme view than you are not shills. If Google are evil then tobacco companies are... what?

      2. Lomax
        Holmes

        Re: Trust Google?

        > But can anyone really get around having a Google account?

        Let me turn that question around: how can anyone really stand using any Google product once they know just how toxic and corrosive their business practices are?

        I use the KolabNow groupware, the Qwant search engine and a SailfishOS smartphone. I do watch YouTube, but would stop if it required me to sign into a Google account. If you don't exercise your right to choose you will end up losing it. Be the change you want to see. Support the alternatives.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. O RLY

        Re: Trust Google?

        Amazon the store: Don't use it.

        AWS: well, odds are good that many of the entities who get your custom or with whom you interact have some services in AWS. Just refer to the list of things that go down when AWS loses a region.

        Same thing with Microsoft and Azure, Google and Captchas

      4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Trust Google?

        I trust Google 100% ...

        ... to steal all my data and sell it.

      5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Trust Google?

        Gmail is hardly an important feature. There are lots of cheap mail providers providing excellent service.

        I blocked Amazon's and Google's networks on my personal mail account a year ago because they're an endless flood of spam. People can go find themselves a reputable mail provider or figure out another way to contact me.

      6. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: Trust Google?

        Not using Amazon is easier said than done. Of course you can opt out of Amazon.com but they also own a slew of subsidiaries. I started using AbeBooks for used editions. Imagine how disappointed I was when I discovered AbeBooks was acquired by Amazon in 2008... Sometimes you can't win. (I use Hive.co.uk for new books, which come direct from the distributor and benefits independent book stores).

        Apple: You joined the cult, you are a lost cause, serves you right.

        GFY. Apple or Google. Which is the lesser evil? Pick your poison. Some people opt out of Google. Apple at least have a business model that isn't built on selling your data. Yes, you pay a premium for that.

        But can anyone really get around having a Google account? Short of running your own mail server, they are a better option than using an ISP or Employer's email service.

        Say what now? Yes, you can. You've always got the option for Hotmail/Outlook. Or ProtonMail, Tutanota, Mailfence, Posteo, etc. or you can pay for Hey!. For sure, GMail is a technically solid solution - it's definitely secure and well run, even if it's not private. But there are a bunch of perfectly serviceable alternatives.

        Provided that you then don't have a desperate need to comment on YouTube or access Google Webmaster, Analytics, AdWords... you can easily make do without a Google account.

        No one here is stupid enough to use their employer's email for personal correspondence are they?

      7. elbisivni

        Re: Trust Google?

        as a matter of interest - which government forces its citizens to own a smartphone? Or are you talking about Government employees?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trust Google?

          Force and force, but make ever so convenient to do so, and inconvenient not to.

          Sweden: e-ID which is not possible with Linux but works on Android and iOS, used for everything from doing your taxes to checking your health records as well as logging in to my bank.

          I also get government mail sent to a secure mailbox, where the e-ID is the sane (only?) way to access.

          1. elbisivni

            Re: Trust Google?

            Ah, I see.

            Mum, who is 81 and lives in the UK had trouble with that with her bank. Because OMG Teh rAdIaTiOn NIMBYs stopped a mobile phone tower being erected in the village there is no signal.

            At least the UK version seems to be quite happy on a desktop browser. They've moved away from mandating IE or Chrome, thankfully. Wasn;t always thus.

      8. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Trust Google?

        Unfortunately most of us are forced to trust Google to some degree..

        I don't think you're really talking about trust, here. You're saying that many of us make an informed decision to suffer Google's intrusions into our lives in return for some of the services that Google provide ... because it's easier than obtaining those services in some other way.

        Each of us will have our own notion of the amount of privacy we're prepared to surrender to get the free stuff ... and that notion will change as the degree of intrusion changes, and as the quality and usefulness of the free stuff changes.

        For some, Any intrusion by Google's is unacceptable. That's fine. Others see the privacy issues as minor when weighed against the usefulness and ease of use of Google's services. That's fine too. Not everyone minds being a product.

        The important thing is that the decision should be an informed one, and that we should all have the right to eschew the services if we consider the price too high.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Trust Google?

      You mean metabook ;o)

      I'll get my coat.

  2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Technologies

    The only technology I want in a Privacy Sandbox is FUCKOFF. No ads, no tracking. Simple enough for anybody to implement.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Technologies

      I'm ok with a limited amount of static(!) ads. A picture of a product here or there: sure, why not? Might be relevant (most likely not), or lead me to see something interesting (yeah... right) - not that "targeted" ads are any better. Meh.

      As for anything "script" or "cookie" or whatever: I totally and completely agree to that single option above.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Technologies

        I'm ok with a limited amount of static(!) ads. A picture of a product here or there: sure, why not?

        If it was the web site itself supplying the ad I'd probably agree with you, but most ads come from third party companies running on the thinnest of margins, so with zero budget or concern for security, and there's no way I (or the web site) can be sure it isn't malware targetting a new zero-day vulnerability that's being delivered.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Technologies

          That's why he said "static". No JS.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Technologies

        If I search for 'doggie daycare mycity' and I get an advert (yes, STATIC!, no dancing or noisy crap) for a doggie daycare service in mycity, fine. Even a veterinarian in mycity would be OK since it's related. But there is ZERO need to track me all over the internet and barf up doggie daycare adverts at me long after I've come back from vacation and no longer need the service. Show me what may be useful when I ask for it, then go away. How hard is that?

        1. Ace2 Bronze badge

          Re: Technologies

          I love how when I buy a lawn sprinkler online, everything is covered in ads for lawn sprinklers for a few days. I just bought one! Don’t need another! Fools.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Technologies

            What are these ads of which you speak? I avoid Google and Microsoft - Although I have ancient mail addresses with both of them; mail from Google account is almost always sent straight to trash, most of MS mail is filtered. I use Amazon very sparingly and always log out; and we record live TV, and then run Comskip. I did work for government, so I am (still) in a number of databases...

            Orwell thought it would be just government >>==========>

        2. Brad16800

          Re: Technologies

          Had the same when searching for a new keyboard. Bought one then nothing but ads for keyboards for the next month. Why would I go buy another...

          I'd hardly say their 'targeted' ad have much value.

        3. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: Technologies

          Show me what may be useful when I ask for it, then go away. How hard is that?

          It's not hard, it's just not (as) profitable.

          This is the 21st century, goddammit. Profit isn't everything, it's the only thing.1

          1Ob. American sports ref.

    2. Robert Grant Silver badge

      Re: Technologies

      Privacy is nothing to do with "no ads".

      1. find users who cut cat tail

        Re: Technologies

        You are being tracked to get better targeted ads – they say. No ads, no need for tracking.

        1. sad_loser

          Re: Technologies

          Adnauseum is your friend

          Poisons their well!

        2. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: Technologies

          You can have ads that don't track you. And who knows what other reasons people might want to track other people. Consumer behaviour analysis? State surveillance?

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Technologies - Simple, But

      No ads is simple - use Firefox and uBlock to kill ads and trackers. When a website you need to access (like one of my medical providers) requires Chromium, use Microsoft Edge which allows the uBlock extension.

      BUT, that has little to do with privacy. Assume that anyone who can track you is tracking you and many are selling whatever they can to whomever will pay for it.

      Google is the biggest offender only because they're the biggest. They are by no means the only one.

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Google is the biggest offender only because they're the biggest.

        Well that's insightful.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "the web is an open, interoperable and universal platform"

    Effectively, not for a long time now.

    By virtue of the scramble for search ranking, Gooooooooogle defines key attributes of most web sites, so homogenisation has set in. Constant site changes to maintain rankings makes bookmarks pretty much obsolete, so users treat Gooooooooooooogle search (biased as it is) as a dynamic index to web content. Web sites increasingly render only in certain browsers, notably Chrome with its propensity for tracking users, and sites that work today in a given browser may break tomorrow.

    In some ways we're back to the days of the 'browser wars', but that was a more innocent time of vastly less privacy violation in proportion to the benefits of access.

  4. SiggyMax
    Pirate

    $$$

    Google is the new Micro$oft, money is all that matters. So in that way Google CAN be trusted - to shaft everyone and everything that comes between them and the mighty dollar.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. arthoss

    "Google engineers, funded ultimately by web advertising, have made a substantial contribution to the rapid and impressive evolution of the web platform and in making Chromium and the V8 JavaScript engine among the most critical and successful open-source projects".

    You're saying it like it's a good thing.

    1. find users who cut cat tail

      Exactly. Many of the ‘contributions’ should not be developed at all. And definitely not at Google. And become critical on top of it.

    2. chasil

      Remeber IE

      This situation is preferable to Internet Explorer v6.

      Going back to "Best Viewed with IE" would likely cause resignations of 3/4ths of all web designers.

      1. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

        Re: Remeber IE

        You say that like losing 3/4 of all web designers would be a bad thing...

        1. Tomato42

          Re: Remeber IE

          It is, a good thing would be losing high 90's percentage...

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: This situation is preferable to Internet Explorer v6.

        Bollocks it is!

        MS got told they had to stop pushing their browser and promote others. No-one's going to stop Google promoting Chrome on every search page they render in a non-chrome browser.

        MS were distributing a paid product, Google give theirs away.

        MS didn't own the means of searching for a different browser. Do you trust Google to honestly search for "Chrome replacement"?

        MS didn't own loads of the internet and cripple it when running on other browsers. Google fucked with Youtube until MS stopped developing their own rendering engine.

        When MS were trying to own the browser they weren't also running the internet.

        I fail to see how the current situation is preferable. Care to elaborate?

        1. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: This situation is preferable to Internet Explorer v6.

          Go and use or develop a web page for IE6. Then you'll remember.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Go and use or develop a web page for IE6. Then you'll remember.

            I do remember, I was coding for web when ie6 was about.

            I notice you haven't actually argued against any of the points I made.

      3. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Remeber IE

        And now it's "Best viewed with Chrome". Some sites won't work on other browsers.

  7. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff
    Holmes

    If Your Product is Dependent on a 3rd Party Platform

    You do not have a product.

  8. DS999 Silver badge

    I'm glad Apple only allows Webkit on iOS

    If there was true competition in the browser world I'd be against it, but given that Google is doing their best to own the web and corrupt browser standards it is a good thing the OS that offers Android its only competition in the mobile world insures that developers can't go full IE6 and design everything for Chrome.

    Because you know damn well Google would push/bribe/incent them to do just that if they were able to make full Chrome available on iOS. Something like "if you add these particular features that are only available on Chrome and add a 'best viewed using the Chrome browser' logo we'll give you a 5% bonus in ad revenue!" Bingo, done deal!

    They'd rely on the web designers to bully customers into downloading Chrome to avoid issues, and their hegemony over the web would be complete. They already own the desktop/laptop market, Apple's stand (whether you like it or not independent of Google's actions) is the only thing preventing a total win for Google at this point. Not that Apple is doing it for that reason, but that's its main practical effect at this time.

  9. tekHedd

    Innovation

    "You'll remember an era on the web where innovation slowed down and even stopped"

    No. I don't. I /do/ remember an era when one vendor used every bit of power their monopoly position afforded to make sure nobody else could compete with them. That was a very bad time indeed.

    There are several statements even in this short article that are "arguable" at best. I don't know what I actually expected, but I suppose I still have enough optimism to be disappointed. What's that quote from Fury Road? "Hope is a mistake; if you can't fix what's broken you'll go insane".

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Those are questions

    During my short stay at Google, they used to pass around a microphone at Google all-hands (TGIF). The rules were that it had to be a question so people would ask if the newly announced products were, in any way, not blatantly criminal, evil, doomed, or helping overthrow a country's democracy. It was brave in a company with a cult-like culture.

    1. Tomato42
      Meh

      Re: Those are questions

      Oh, so it's mostly mismanagement, not enginerds? I'm almost surprised.

  11. sreynolds Silver badge

    The pot calling the kettle black....

    A bit rich for my liking. A group of predominately White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) calling for diversity. Oh the irony.

    Why does anyone give the likes or orifice 360 and scroogle access to confidential business communications? Does anyone believe them that they don't look at the data that they store?

  12. HammerOn1024

    Well, it is pretty simple:

    Stop! Using! Their! Products!

    They'll get the hint sooner or later.

  13. TRT Silver badge

    Of course you can trust Google...

    You can trust them to always find a way to bypass the next thing in anonymous browsing, you can trust them to make money off your data, you can trust them to crush or envelope the competition, you can trust them to... etc

  14. heyrick Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The W3C doesn't get to be the boss of anyone

    If that's the way the tech lead thinks, I feel we can pretty much guess how this will go.

    I'll load the cannons and prepare the medipacks for Browser Wars 2.0.

  15. jollyboyspecial

    Google (and the rest of the bad guys) break various data protection laws regularly. This is a given. They also facilitate their customers in breaking data protection laws.

    What I find frustrating is that various data protection regulators around the world ignore these flagrant breaches. I could understand this if Google et al actually paid taxes. After all the worlds governments turned a blind eye for decades to the health issues with tobacco simply because they were making so much in taxes from the sale of tobacco. The same could be true of Google, they are making fortunes all over the world if they were paying the tax due on those fortunes then maybe it would make sense for regulators to ignore their flagrant breaches of privacy laws.

    What takes me beyond frustration and towards incandescent rage is the excuses they make when they actually come close to admitting that they are doing something that is morally or legally questionable (to put it mildly). The excuse is almost always that doing otherwise would break the internet. When what they mean by "break the internet" is actually "reduce Google profits".

  16. Abominator

    Time for a break up. The company is a danger to society as a whole. Facebook should just be banned. Its even worse.

  17. Svampa

    No, but... Android. Net effect

    You can trust that google is getting as much data from you as it can, from where it can, let it be searches or tools for developers. They know you better than yourself. Period.

    That is not going to change. That is like tobacco companies. What can they do to be concerned about public health? Sell less product. What can google do to be less privacy invader? Collect less data, so making its advertising less effective.

    Can you set your Android for not using google at all?

    1-No, 99.99999% of people can't, unless they have tech savvy friend (very savvy) or pay a technician

    2-What they would get without google would disappointing for many people

    Can you stop sending emails to any contact that uses gmail? No

    That is like Whatsapp, there are other alternatives, but I only have a couple of contacts that use signal or telegram. No. I'm not going to stop texting all the other contacts that use whatsapp

  18. Kiss

    So nothing good ever came from Google?

    Unless you own shares in Google, why trust them. Their job is to make money for their shareholders that probably includes your pension fund.

    I am tired of negative pointless press like this. We have enough monolopies like Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Google that limit innovation by intentionally commercially destroying competition. Don't you see that articles like this actually further enforce their power?

    What we should promote is competition between the major players to drive new ideas e.g. use Google to fight MS O365 monolopies, MS to fight Chrome etc. Also give a platform to support new small players - they need all the help they can get.

    Whining about successful large monopolies helps no one. But then again A-Register needs clickbait to drive revenue for their shareholders. This is the world we live in, so understand it and try to make it a better place.

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