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Chrome “bug” allows Google to keep site data even after users deleted browser data

Via The Register

A researcher found that Chrome exempted Youtube.com and Google.com when users cleared cookies and site data from the browser, allowing those sites to continue tracking users.

The Issue

By default, nearly all browsers collect and share data with the websites you go to. Websites also drop cookies, tracking code that allows websites to remember you even after you leave the site. This is what allows sites to keep you logged on, even after you close the browser. However, cookies are also what allow sites to track and they can be quite invasive and bad for privacy (which is why third-party cookies are blocked by default by Safari and Firefox). Site data is also kept by browsers and sites and include personal information and device information that can be used to track you.

To prevent further tracking, you can clear your cookies and other browsing data. On Chrome, a setting option was available that would “Clear cookies and site data when you quit Chrome” so the data would clear every time you closed the browser.

However, a researcher found that Google.com and Youtube.com, were exempt from this setting. The cookies were deleted but those sites still held onto other site data which could be used to identify users and track them.

Google claimed that this was just a programming error and it will be fixed in an upcoming update to Chrome. However, this “error” only adds to the negative perception Google has in relation to user privacy and this isn’t the only time setting changes related to privacy didn’t work how users expected.

Your Move

If you want more privacy, we recommend changing your browser. We’ve dubbed Chrome the anti-privacy browser before this new issue was even known. Chrome collects and shares a lot of data and you have very few options to opt out of it, especially if you’re signed into Chrome.

Better options include Safari, Firefox, Brave, or even Microsoft Edge, which has more granular controls over the data you give up and allow to share.

If you want to continue using Chrome but want to ensure those sites aren’t keeping your data even after you tell Chrome to delete it, you can go to Privacy and Security in your settings, click on Cookies and other site data, and click on Sites that can never use cookies. Add both Google.com and Youtube.com and ensure the third-party cookies box is checked as well.

For more details on this bug, check out The Register’s article here.

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