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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Google Chrome Receives Heavy Criticism in Germany

It doesn’t get any more “official” than this here. Yesterday, Saturday at around 20:07, Germany’s oldest and perhaps biggest prime time news Tagesschau announced the following under the headline “Warning against internet browser"*:

The Federal Office for Information Security warned internet users of the new browser Chrome. The application by the company Google should not be used for surfing the internet, as a spokesperson for the office told the Berliner Zeitung. It was said to be problematic that Chrome was distributed as an unfinished advance version. Furthermore it was said to be risky that user data is hoarded with a single vendor. With its search engine, email program and the new browser, Google now covers all important areas on the internet.

If the Berliner Zeitung is to be believed, then this kind of strong warning from an official source seems slightly curious, in particular in comparison with say Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 release. As I was not able to find any such warning on the federal office’s homepage yet, I asked the office for a clarification yesterday and will update should they reply with more information.

Previously, the Electronic Frontier Foundation also expressed their concern with Chrome over an address bar feature that sends information back to Google as you type, in order to provide suggestions. Google recently activated an auto-suggest feature for their homepage as well, sending back character strokes to Google even before you hit return (and when you turn off that feature, it will come back next time your cookies are cleared). Features like these may be important to Google – perhaps of special importance to them in Chrome to offer a feature that sets their browser apart – but it adds a new privacy discussion to the list.

[Via Corax at Spreeblick.]

*German original: “Das Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik hat Internetnutzer vor dem neuen Browser Chrome gewarnt. Das Programm der Firma Google sollte nicht für surfen im Internet eingesetzt werden, sagte ein Sprecher des Amtes der Berliner Zeitung. Es sei problematisch, dass mit Chrome eine unausgereifte Version in Umlauf gebracht werde. Außerdem sei das anhäufen von Nutzerdaten bei einem Anbieter bedenklich. Google hat mit seiner Suchmaschine, einem Emailprogramm und dem neuen Browser nun alle wichtigen Bereich im Internet abgedeckt.”


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