Google continues to track you even if you explicitly instruct it not to, an independent software developer has claimed. The issue seems to be with Google Chrome’s storing of cookies and site data on a user’s device. Even if Chrome has been set to automatically delete all cookies and site data upon closing the browser, it allegedly retains site data from Google’s own websites while wiping down everything else. This would mean that the search-giant grants itself the liberty to store and access users’ data without their knowledge.
Jeff Johnson highlighted the issue in a blog post last week. He shared detailed screenshots that apparently show that Chrome had awarded a contentious exception to google.com and youtube.com, allowing them to store and access user information — at least on macOS — even after the browser was set to automatically delete cookies and site data on closing. Cookies and site data allow websites to store information about users on their devices and access it when they visit the websites again.
While he gave Google the benefit of doubt and said that it could be a bug in Google Chrome, he mentioned that the exception only applies to Google websites and not, for instance, apple.com, raising doubts about Google’s handling of user data and the undue advantage its products gain from it. Google has reportedly confirmed to The Register that the company was aware of the issue caused by a “bug” within Google Chrome and that it will be rolling out a fix in the “coming days”.
This is not the first time Google has been accused of bypassing user preferences on its products. A 2018 Associated Press investigation claimed that Google continued to track the whereabouts of Android users even if they had turned off location tracking on their devices. Google is currently facing multiple lawsuits around data privacy.