Also known as one of the 4 big tech companies, google does more than just your typical search. It has branched out to so many more services and products since its humble beginning which include emails (G-mail), video sharing (YouTube) and as will later be important, web browsers (google chrome). As well as “google.com” being the most searched website in the world, google chrome is a web browser juggernaut in its own right with a 70.05% market share on traditional PC’s and 63.16% on all platforms. In comparison its closest competitor, Firefox, has less than 10%. However, something this massive doesn’t come without its problems.
what did it get wrong?
A huge criticism google has is its lack of privacy and its breach of personal information. Though many have criticized this in 2009, Eric Schmidt CEO of google at the time said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know about, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines -including google retain this information for some time and its important,”. In 2007, google was ranked as “hostile to privacy” in its consultation report. It was the lowest rank and the only company to receive that rank.
One of their guilty parties is google chrome’s extension system which are in-built software which personalize each user’s browsing experience. They can do things from showing icons on tabs to completely overriding a page. The abilities of these extensions don’t stop there though, they can monitor your to-do lists and even find you shopping deals based on your previous searches. The main problem with these extensions is that most extensions require a lot of personal data before the download is allowed. Nonetheless google vowed to make changes last October to make extensions more trustworthy. These changes are said to be put in place in the summer of this year.
Some of these changes include:
Being more restrictive on the information the creators of the extensions can access.
Requiring extensions downloads to only request necessary and appropriate data in exchange of its download.
What they are aiming for now
Despite the clear push for transparency and lack of anonymity 10 years ago, better privacy has been Google’s more recent goal. Last year they updated their user data policy to restrict apps from accessing your Gmail data and later this year they are improving their extensions to provide a more reliable browsing experience. Ben Smith, vice president of engineering at google says “To make this ecosystem work, people need to be confident that their data is secure, and developers need clearer rules of the road.”