The most recent update of Google's popular Chrome browser includes a policy change that makes privacy advocates uncomfortable: The browser automatically signs users in to Chrome if they use any other Google services.
That means if you're using Chrome to sign in to a Google service like Gmail, Chrome will begin tracking information such as the other sites you visit and which tabs you have open until you close the browser or sign out of either Chrome or Gmail.
If you give Google permission by clicking an option to "Sync," that information is sent back to Google.
Once it's there, Google can use it for several purposes. On the plus side, if you sign in to Chrome on a different computer, all your stuff — including extensions, bookmarks, browsing history and saved passwords — will show up, ready to use.
But on the minus side for people concerned about privacy, Google can add that data to the vast amount that it already has about you through other linked accounts, such as Maps and YouTube. Google uses that data to target ads.
Previously, it was possible to use the Google Chrome browser to sign in to a Google service, like Gmail, without actually logging into the browser itself. The browser would only store information locally; you never even had the option to send it back to Google (unless you signed in to Chrome by choice).
Ultimately, this change more explicitly frames Chrome as another Google service, rather than as a neutral platform to surf the web.