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After being called out, Google rethinks Chrome’s auto-login feature

Wow, that didn’t take long.

How to check if google chrome is slowing down your computer
Image: Digital Trends

That was quick. Just days after it was revealed that Google Chrome now includes a nasty auto-login feature, the company is rethinking its approach. A future Chrome update will allow users to opt-out.

Earlier this month, Google introduced Chrome 69. With the update, Chrome automatically signs the browser into your account, if you’ve already signed into another Google property like Google Search, Gmail, or YouTube. Before this update, you had to log into your account in Chrome separately.

This change caused some in the privacy community to cry foul.

Matthew Green, for example, a cryptography expert and professor at Johns Hopkins University, said Google’s move “fundamentally changes the sign-in experience,” and not for the better. More specifically, he said, “Google needs to stop treating customer trust like it’s a renewable resource, because they’re screwing up badly.”

What happens to Google Chrome now?

In an early Tuesday post, Google raised the white flag.

Stressing the change was initially made to “simplify” the way Chrome handles the log-in process, Google said a future Chrome update would give users the option to opt-out of auto-login.

Chrome product manager Zack Koch notes:

While we think sign-in consistency will help many of our users, we’re adding a control that allows users to turn off linking web-based sign-in with browser-based sign-in—that way users have more control over their experience. For users that disable this feature, signing into a Google website will not sign them into Chrome.

We’ve reached out to Green for his opinion on Google’s decision to add an opt-out for auto-login. We’ll let you know when he responds. With that being said, kudos to Google for making the decision so quickly.

Opting-out of auto-login is set to arrive with the Chrome 70 release in mid-October.

Take it a step further

Chrome gmail login
Image: Screenshot / KnowTechie

If you want to make sure the connection between logging in on Google’s Web services and the Chrome browser is blocked, there is a workaround. It uses an option called “account consistency.” Here’s how to do disable the connection.

  1. Launch Chrome
  2. Next, type chrome://flags/#account-consistency in the address bar and press enter.
  3. Set “Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar” to Disabled.

Are you happy that Google moved so quickly to resolve this issue with Google Chrome? Let us know your thoughts below.

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Bryan considers himself a well-rounded techie, having written articles for MakeUseOf, KnowTechie, AppAdvice, iDownload Blog. When he's not writing, he's being a single dad and rooting for his alma mater, Penn State, or cheering on the Patriots.

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