Google: even if you have nothing to hide, you may have something to fear

I generally use Firefox as my browser, but most people I know use Google Chrome. It turns out that there is a big difference between the two.

Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software.
My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox...

Chrome welcomed trackers even at websites you would think would be private. I watched Aetna and the Federal Student Aid website set cookies for Facebook and Google. They surreptitiously told the data giants every time I pulled up the insurance and loan service’s log-in pages.

And that’s not the half of it.

Look in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. See a picture or a name in the circle? If so, you’re logged in to the browser, and Google might be tapping into your Web activity to target ads. Don’t recall signing in? I didn’t, either. Chrome recently started doing that automatically when you use Gmail.

Chrome is even sneakier on your phone. If you use Android, Chrome sends Google your location every time you conduct a search. (If you turn off location sharing it still sends your coordinates out, just with less accuracy.)

There is literally no reason that I know of for someone to use Chrome instead of Firefox. I've used both. They both perform roughly the same and function roughly the same.
The only differences that I've found are that Chrome works faster on Google web sites, and Firefox is more configurable.

So what? So a big company mines my data. Big deal?
Yes, it is a big deal. Not just because surveillance changes people's behavior.

After the Snowden revelations, traffic to Wikipedia articles on topics that raise privacy concerns for internet users decreased significantly. Another research project found that people’s Google searches changed significantly after users realised what the NSA looked for in their online activity.

I'm sure that most of these people had "nothing to hide", yet they changed their behavior anyway, and that's bad for society in general. Now imagine a world without privacy. It's not a world I would want to live in.

Google products being tools of mass surveillance shouldn't be a surprise to anyone considering where Google comes from.

In 1995, one of the first and most promising MDDS grants went to a computer-science research team at Stanford University with a decade-long history of working with NSF and DARPA grants. The primary objective of this grant was “query optimization of very complex queries that are described using the ‘query flocks’ approach.” A second grant—the DARPA-NSF grant most closely associated with Google’s origin—was part of a coordinated effort to build a massive digital library using the internet as its backbone. Both grants funded research by two graduate students who were making rapid advances in web-page ranking, as well as tracking (and making sense of) user queries: future Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The research by Brin and Page under these grants became the heart of Google: people using search functions to find precisely what they wanted inside a very large data set. The intelligence community, however, saw a slightly different benefit in their research: Could the network be organized so efficiently that individual users could be uniquely identified and tracked?

Yes, if the NSA wants to watch you there is little that you can do about it.
But then there is something called "low-hanging fruit".
If you do nothing to protect yourself then you will be among the very first ones to be "plucked".

39 users have voted.


mhagle's picture

When I created "" a year ago last December weird things happened to the main email account and the front page. I did much of the work on an android tablet. The email account was sending my mail to the trash every day. The main webpage was censoring my links to progressive websites. They would be there on other browsers.

So I deleted the google account associated with the tablet and the email issues disappeared. And I just don't use chrome anymore. I use the opensoftware version chromium. But mostly firefox or other weird ass linuxish browsers.

21 users have voted.


"Make dirt, not war." eyo

thanatokephaloides's picture


or other weird ass linuxish browsers.

Ah, another Konqueror user! Smile

5 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Firefox (with Adblock, HTTPS Everywhere plug ins) or Tor (a secure version of Firefox, plus Onion routing).
I use Chromium only when the web site won't function with a a secure browser.

I use the opensoftware version chromium. But mostly firefox or other weird ass linuxish browsers.

14 users have voted.

activity, from spying to firing on Brits.

After the draft of the Constitution (sans any amendments) was circulated for ratification, the people and their legislatures demanded inclusion of the Bill of Rights. The deal was basically fast ratification of the document as presented, on the condition that the Bill of Rights be added ASAP. I believe it took only six months to get the Bill of Rights drafted, circulated AND ratified. Given the state of technology in those days, that t'weren't nothing.

In my opinion, the only reason it happened that fast (or at all?) is that Framers and legislators alike were mindful that the same "rabble" that was demanding that the Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution PDQ had not only just fought a revolution, but won it.

If anyone is having trouble connecting the dots, I don't blame him or her. So, let me try to bring all the above together. Regardless of what the Framers thought or wanted, I don't believe that the people who demanded and quickly ratified the Bill of Rights, the same people who had risen up in violent rebellion, including, but not limited to, spying on those officially in charge, intended to have the Bill of Rights protect only those who were doing nothing wrong in the eyes of the government du jour.

If they were, shame on them! But, I can't imagine they were.

14 users have voted.

from the British Bill of Rights, legislation dating from "The Glorious Revolution" of 1688/1689.

One of the things that irked the upper crust of the colonies was that they didn't enjoy the same protections that royal subjects in Great Britain did. Some of the items in the British Bill of Rights were included in the US Bill of Rights, one or two others had already been rolled into the original constitution.

Per wikipedia, the Bill provided that:

* the pretended power of suspending the laws and dispensing with laws by regal authority
without consent of Parliament is illegal;
* the commission for ecclesiastical causes is illegal;
* levying taxes without grant of Parliament is illegal;
* it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;
* keeping a standing army in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;
* Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;
* election of members of Parliament ought to be free;
* the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;
* excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;
* jurors in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;
* promises of fines and forfeitures before conviction are illegal and void;
* for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.

13 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.



For our purposes, I think it important to know that, for almost every provision in the first eight amendments of the ten that comprise the Bill of Rights, there was one or more incidents in the colonial times, or even pre-colonial times.

Amendment one: lack of free exercise of religion in nations with an official national religion (or an "established" religion) was the reason some traveled to this land in the sixteen hundreds.

Amendment two (Right to bear arms, as we ALL know, thanks to the NRA) connects to the British raid on the armory where the colonists stored their weapons.

Amendment three: The alleged practice of the Brits quartering soldiers in colonists' homes during the two-year occupation of Massachusetts by the redcoats.

Amendment four Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Again, supposedly the Brits conducted, at will, warrantless searches and seizures, during the two-year occupation of Massachusetts.

And so on.

This is why I cannot imagine that the intention of the "rabble" was to shield only those who were doing nothing wrong, as far as the official PTB were concerned.

And so on.

14 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

Gmail scans your email for financial transactions, which are used to create a database of your financial activities.

A better choice for Americans is Proton email. The only email with end to end encryption. Take a look at the people from CERN who created it: About. They also offer a VPN for secure and private Internet use, as well. This means all your data is protected by strict Swiss privacy laws.

And, it's free.

24 users have voted.

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus

@Pluto's Republic

9 users have voted.
The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@Pluto's Republic How do I go about converting?

4 users have voted.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Pluto's Republic's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

When you click the type of account you want — web based, mobile, etc — it opens a login box to your new account.

If you want to move some or all of your old email data, their Support walks you through it.

It can be tedious to notify your contacts, but they have some ideas on that, as well. Of course, you can make a slow transition and try it out for awhile. Set up your accounts beforehand, that sort of thing.

Generally speaking, they are very customer friendly. The user interface is also friendly and intuitive

4 users have voted.

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
mimi's picture

@Pluto's Republic
Give rose
I kind of trust scientists from CERN. My prof for whom I wrote later on my thesis paper in the early seventies, dragged us students from Berlin to CERN in Switzerland to listen to a speaker there. I was very, very young and there is a photo of me sitting in the audience with eyes wide open and apparently quite clueless about what the speaker tried to explain.

But I trusted him and my prof.
Yes 3

4 users have voted.

Ich schreibe was mir paßt - in memory of Steve Biko

Bollox Ref's picture

use Chrome as their browser of choice.

Likewise the Google search engine.


I admit to using googlemaps in emergencies......and googlebooks has so much 19th C. historical goodness for download, that it's hard to resist.

14 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

Hawkfish's picture

@Bollox Ref

Because the searches for technical information tend to be better with Google and the debugging environment in Chrome is very nice.

But on my personal devices I use Safari and DDG - and I use ad lock everywhere.

I’m pissed about the gmail sign on thing though because I’m paying them to host my own domain. I’m going to look into hosting at proton or something (one of my more paranoid friends is already there).

3 users have voted.

We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg

Daenerys's picture

after Firefox got rid of my ad blockers. No thanks. Plus Opera has a built-in VPN, which I like. There's an Android version too, which I installed on my mom's phone when she got a new one.

12 users have voted.

This shit is bananas.

thanatokephaloides's picture


I recently switched to Opera after Firefox got rid of my ad blockers. No thanks.

Which blockers did you lose? Mine all made it through pretty much OK.

Plus Opera has a built-in VPN, which I like.

Hmmmm, may need to look into Opera again.....


8 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

It's OK but it has some issues

4 users have voted.
Daenerys's picture

@thanatokephaloides One day all my add-ons were suddenly gone, poof! and I couldn't get them back. So fuck 'em.

Yeah, certain web sites will refuse to load unless you turn off the VPN, at least the first time you visit them on Opera. But it's easy enough to switch on and off.

3 users have voted.

This shit is bananas.

TheOtherMaven's picture


AdBlock Plus has been replaced with AdBlocker Ultimate, which is supposedly "the same only better", and I'm not sure what they've replaced NoScript with - but that Chrome picked it up is a Very Bad Sign.

The official story, to which you may assign what credence you wish, is that both plugins had fallen too far behind the curve and were security risks/bugfests.

Anyway, now using AdBlocker Ultimate and so far no complaints.

3 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

travelerxxx's picture


Thanks for the tip re AdBlocker Ultimate. Was still running the older version.

0 users have voted.

"When things are not called by their true name, confusion abounds in the realm."

"Stalking" is the true name of what GoogzFaceTwitazon are doing. I think we're better off using that term for their actions than any other. Cuts to the heart of the matter, and with the right sense of the situation.

12 users have voted.
Shahryar's picture

(just in case there's a spy problem with Firefox) Just kidding, authorities!

8 users have voted.

Pinterest and more to stamp out “hate” online

The likes of the Koch brothers, have in the past, been accused of using their vast fortune to influence US politics, and they are now involving themselves in influencing the internet, as well, by ensuring it is more strictly policed for unwanted content.

A broad alliance is being formed in the United States to combat “online hate and extremism.”

Members include billionaires Charles Koch and George Soros, tech companies Eventbrite, Mozilla, Pinterest, Patreon, Airbnb, the Anti-Defamation League, and a number of universities.

good luck

I avoid mozilla's nannyweb as much as possible, can't believe they called their background updater Normandy but go on... Normandy is why so many extensions broke all at once, all over the world. Mozilla has devolved to MicroSoft level of greed and stupidity, pushing out silent updates that break working installations. Wish I never donated a single cent to their specious foundation, directed by moar greedy capitalists then ever now. meh

--- HOWTO disable firefox's nannyweb...
I am not down with free speech anti-feature flaggers, I guess they will start charging money to disable anti-features soon enough. "that's the system." "we're capitalists" Look at the bigly shark, now jump!

Normandy Pref Rollout is a feature that allows Mozilla to change the default value of a preference for a targeted set of users, without deploying an update to Firefox. This document focuses on the use of Pref Rollout as a mechanism to enable feature flagging in Firefox.

app.normandy.enabled = false


The Shield platform gives us the ability to push changes in Firefox quickly and with high precision. There are two main goals for the Shield Program.

Shield Turns Superstition into Science

Shield is a Firefox user testing platform for proposed, new and existing features and ideas. Broad Applications The Shield system addon targets specific subsets of users, enables features and messaging, and measures the results of those interventions to evaluate the effect of the features/messages on measures (retention, uptake, performance, crashiness) to create insights for the Firefox product and Mozilla as an organization.

Self Repair

Make it easier for users to recover from common issues. This could be restoring a preference or removing an unwanted toolbar.

Self Repair, for after they Self Break your working software extensions. lol "unwanted toolbar" yeah right, NOPE

app.shield.optoutstudies.enabled = false
Orwell Lives

6 users have voted.