Google Chrome to Remove Unique ID

To quell privacy concerns

By Lucian Parfeni on March 16th, 2010 09:39 GMT
Google is the target of plenty of privacy concerns, justified at times if only by the size of the company. And, while people may be overreacting at times, the company is trying to calm those concerns as much as possible, except when it's telling people that privacy doesn't really matter, an interesting point of view shared with Facebook. Mostly a token move, Google will now remove the unique ID associated with each Chrome install after plenty of people were worried it could be used by Google to track a person's browsing behavior, though there has never been any evidence of this happening.

A unique client ID is assigned to any Google Chrome install to keep track of the number of installs and issues that may arise afterwards, a metrics tool in short, but Google says it has never used it to keep score of individual users. The ID itself is changed to a randomly generated one each time the browser is updated, which happens quite a lot in the dev or beta channels.

Now, a new whitepaper published by Google claims that the unique ID will be removed altogether after the first time Chrome successfully checks for updates. Starting from the next stable update in the Google Chrome 4.1 line, the ID will only be stored for a brief period of time. This should quell some of the criticism, though it's not going to change much in the practical sense.

Google has always claimed that the unique ID is used to keep track of installs, updates and the Google crash handler, which isn't enabled by default. There have been attempts to find if Google was indeed misusing the feature, but they have failed to uncover anything substantial. However, other features may prove to be more important, though they have failed to catch the public eye as much as the unique ID, things like the web search suggestion feature and the redirection of 404 error pages. Both features are discussed in the whitepaper (PDF). [via The H]
To quell privacy concerns, Google will remove the Chrome unique ID after the first update check
   To quell privacy concerns, Google will remove the Chrome unique ID after the first update check
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