Uninstalling Google Chrome

Considering how many years it’s been since I got into privacy, it’s quite surprising that I’ve been an avid Chrome user for many years.

Now why would I use Chrome when there were alternatives available? Because Chrome just works. It’s fast, it runs well even on 2Gb RAM, and it doesn’t have any flaws.

However, from a privacy standpoint, Google Chrome is the worst.

I used Chrome mostly for watching YouTube videos.

I had all the versions of Chrome installed – Stable, Beta and Canary. I had Chromium installed at some point but it just didn’t cut it. I’m not sure if it’s just me but running Chromium doesn’t feel like running Chrome. It feels more like Opera.

Recently, I noticed that the Beta and Dev releases had a special set of headers: Sec-CH-UA and Sec-Ch-Ua-Mobile. Now this Sec-CH-UA header can be explicitly used to snitch on the user’s Browser and Version – in this case, Google Chrome.

The first thing I did after discovering these unusual headers was uninstall the browsers and clean up the leftovers the best I could.

I did some research today, and looked into the background of these headers. Apparently, Google is trying to “increase user privacy” by phasing out the old user-agent strings and replacing them with these new headers. According to Google’s developers, this is supposed to reduce fingerprinting. But I think, this is Google’s new technique of identifying and targeting everyone who’s not a Chrome user.

If Google truly wanted to stop fingerprinting, they’d provide an option in Chrome with the most common user-agent string to default to. But that’s not what they did. They chose to add a bunch of new headers explicitly revealing which one’s were Chrome and which ones weren’t, completely disregarding the user agent string.

Now how does this new set of headers work when I visit a website? Suppose I’ve changed my user-agent string to Edge on Windows, the Chrome browser will still send the Sec-CH-UA header revealing that I’m actually using Google Chrome/Chromium. Yes, this header will also be applied in Chromium builds. So now the website reads the user-agent string and the headers, knows inevitably that the user-agent string, and there goes my privacy.

Why is this so important to me? So the websites know I’m using Chrome on Linux. So what? Big deal! Yes, exactly. This is a big deal. I don’t want websites to know I’m using a Google Chrome browser on Linux. Even though I’ve already revealed that I use Linux on the internet. I don’t want websites to personally identify me. When I browse the internet, I want every website to think I’m a Windows fanboy using the Edge browser. And no, I do not log into any websites using Chrome.

I’m currently using a temporary browser until I find a solid replacement. But I’m thinking about making my own web browser.

For all the Firefox fans out there wondering how I could choose Chrome over Firefox – Firefox sucks. Mozilla also sucks.

Now I could live with Google’s outright privacy violations. They’re not trying to hide it. Everybody knows Google’s a privacy nightmare.

What I could not and will not live with, is Mozilla’s sneaky tactics of lying to their users while acting all hip and cool. Firefox ain’t hip and it definitely ain’t cool. Firefox is a memory hog and terrible for browsing YouTube.

Now that I’m done with Google Chrome, I’m looking forward to quitting YouTube. I just need to find an alternate source of entertainment. That shouldn’t be hard.