We can all breathe easy now. Google says it will let users of its Chrome web browser opt-out of the controversial automatic login feature that debuted earlier this month.
Chrome had historically let users decide whether they wanted to log into the browser while using it across devices, saving them precious seconds while jumping between various Google services. But in the Chrome 69 update that rolled out earlier this month, the browser automatically signed in people who used sites like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Search.
Now, Google promises to do the right thing and give people a chance to opt-out of the automatic sign-in feature. The company says the feature was originally introduced to prevent data from leaking between accounts on shared computers (i.e. Google doesn’t want to mix up the cookies on a shared machine used by multiple accounts.)
“We want to be clear that this change to sign-in does not mean Chrome sync gets turned on,” Google Chrome product manager Zach Koch assured Chrome users in an announcement post. “Users who want data like their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on other devices must take additional action, such as turning on sync.”
However, not everyone was convinced. Cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University, Matthew Green, was a vocal critic of the change. He argued in a scathing blog post that there was no justifiable reason for the change — at least from a security perspective.
“Google’s reputation is hard-earned, and it can be easily lost,” wrote Green. “Changes like this burn a lot of trust with users. If the change is solving an absolutely critical problem for users, then maybe a loss of trust is worth it. I wish Google could convince me that was the case.”
Luckily for Green (and thousands of other concerned users), Google will make it easy to opt-out of the automatic login feature upon the next stable release of the Chrome browser. Until then, if you’re truly worried about being tracked, maybe try going back to Firefox.