As if it hasn't already taken so much from its users, in terms of their personal data treated as a gold mine for its extremely lucrative ad-tech based business – Google is introducing a new level in the transactional nature of its relationship with those choosing to run the Chrome browser.
And it's a high-value bargaining chip that Google holds: security.
A new announcement from Google says that, with its Advanced Protection Program, users who decide not to be signed in to the browser will not enjoy the same anti-malware protections as those who do.
And there's a strong push, that betrays a strong monetary incentive, by Google to have everyone signed into its services, all the time. Last year, users were taken by surprise when they discovered that logging in to Gmail meant they were also logged into their Chrome accounts.
Although the feature is called “Sync,” many of its detractors would be comfortable calling it “Track” – and that's precisely the reason they don't want it.
There's more clear evidence of a strong drive to keep the users singed in – just try logging out of your YouTube account on an Android device. Google last year removed the button allowing users to sign out. The only likely way is to also log you out of your Google account, and thus prevent updates, including security ones, to any of the apps you have installed.
Chrome is today the world's leading browser which has some significant advantages over its competition – and is also pushed by Google, the tech giant present in almost everyone's internet experience.
However, being logged into an account means allowing Google to “sync” and thus keep track of your browsing history across devices, along with passwords and settings.
In other words, it's a pretty comprehensive access and look into your browsing habits.
But those who decide against signing in to Chrome will be deprived of Google's Advanced Protection, that gives them the possibility of exchanging “some privacy for extra security.”
But if Benjamin Franklin were alive today and using online services, he might be prompted to says that those giving up online privacy to gain a little temporary safety deserve neither privacy nor safety.