Google collects a lot of data via it services like Google Assistant, Chrome and other apps and according to the company, barring data from its Assistant that’s meant to deliver a customised experience to the users, data from other apps is anonymised.
You can either believe Google’s word for it or opt-out of sharing your app’s data with them. There are a number of ways that Google Chrome collects your data too, and here we list out nine ways that you can stop that data from being shared with Google.
Note that most of the following methods of protecting your privacy on Google Chrome are only applicable to its Android app. Wherever a similar feature is available in the Google Chrome app for iOS, it has been mentioned.
Disable access to payment methods
Google provides a functionality by which the saved credit/debit card information can be accessed by other websites running on the Chrome browser.
This could be thought of as convenient in terms of not having to enter card details every time. But, if you don’t want other websites or a malicious script downloaded via a non-trusted website to access these details, you can disable the functionality altogether.
To do this select the Settings option under the ‘triple-dot’ Menu tab located at the right-hand side of the URL address bar. Under the Privacy tab tap on the Access payment methods option to remove the ‘tick mark’.
This functionality is also available in Google Chrome for iOS. You can access the Settings on the app via the ‘triple-dot’ menu at the bottom right of the app. Once in Settings, tap on Privacy and toggle off Allow sites to check if you have payment methods saved.
Enable safe browsing
Using this functionality, Google checks for any malicious activity detected on the website that you visit on the browser.
Using this, any malicious scripts in the source code of the websites will be detected, and Google will warn you to not surf that website further — preventing any data theft from your device.
To enable Safe Browsing under the Settings option, go to the Privacy tab, and tick Enable safe browsing from there.
Turn off improve safe browsing
When this option is switched on, Google collects your system data and contents of the pages you visit. While this is implemented with the intention to improve the security, you are also giving away critical information to Google which can be misused.
Under the Privacy tab, untick Help improve safe browsing to disable it.
Disable search and site suggestions
Suggestions are provided on the basis of a prediction model that uses all your past searches and keywords. When such data is accessed, a lot can be understood about a person — his preferences in music, television, movies, etc — and this information can be used to better implement attacks for acquiring your passwords.
To disable search and site suggestions, go to the Privacy tab and untick Search and site suggestions.
This functionality is also available in Google Chrome for iOS. You can access the Settings on the app via the ‘triple-dot’ menu at the bottom right of the app. Once in Settings, tap on Privacy and toggle off Search and site suggestions.
Enable Do Not Track
Websites use the information of all the requests you have made to the browser to generate ads, display content and make a proper statistical report. If you do not want such websites to access all this data, you should enable the Do Not Track feature provided by Google.
Under the Privacy tab in the Settings menu, go to the Do Not Track option and toggle it on from there.
This feature automatically fills in saved email IDs, home addresses and other recurring information in online forms by Google.
Once you manually fill in this data, Google stores and uses it for filling similar fields on other websites. This might seem convenient but again there is the issue of whether or not we can trust the websites to which Google is sending this data.
To disable this, go to Chrome’s Settings menu and tap on Autofill and payments. In the next window, toggle off Autofill forms to disable this feature.
Check site permissions
Specific permissions like allowing cookies, blocking location, using the mobile’s hardware components like the microphone or camera can be set.
To check the kind of permissions that can be allotted to specific websites, go to the Settings menu and under the Advanced tab, select Site Settings.
Disable usage and crash reports
Using this functionality, Google stores your usage stats and keeps a record for any crashes that take place while surfing the internet.
If you don’t want Google to collect the information on the sites you visit and the number of times you visit that site, you can disable it.
In the Settings menu, look for Privacy option under the Advanced tab. Then go to Usage and Crash Reports option and toggle it off.
This functionality is also available in Google Chrome for iOS. You can access the Settings on the app via the ‘triple-dot’ menu at the bottom right of the app. Once in Settings, tap on Privacy, then on Send usage data and select Never.
Don’t sync your passwords
Google provides a functionality by which your sessions of accounts on different websites can be maintained across multiple devices.
If you don’t want Google to do this, you can go to the Settings menu of your Android phone and search for the Google option. Look for the Smart Lock for Passwords option and disable it.
Featured image by Charles Deluvio