German Security Office Smells Stink on Google Chrome

Germany’s Office for Information Security, also known as the BSI, has apparently looked at Google’s Chrome browser and felt a pinch of uneasy déjà vu (a la Microsoft), only this time sensing that the company behind the software wants to know too much about you, too often. As a result, the BSI is advising anyone who’ll listen to steer clear of the crayon invader’s brand new beta. At least for anything other than experimental tasks.

Though this isn’t a warning stretched to the whole EU, the fact is that the BSI’s red flag has been shown by a number of German media stalwarts, including Berliner Zeitung and Tagesschau, the second of which is a news program widely viewed by the public. Which makes for fairly substantial news. And just so we’re thorough, the way we’ve learned of this official relay is the through the German blog Spreeblick, sourced by Philipp Lensen of Google Blogoscoped. Lensen summarized the matter thusly:

The Federal Office for Information Security warned Internet users of the new browser Chrome. The application by the company Google should not be used for surfing the Internet, as a spokesperson for the office told the Berliner Zeitung. It was said to be problematic that Chrome was distributed as an unfinished advance version. Furthermore it was said to be risky that user data is hoarded with a single vendor. With its search engine, email program and the new browser, Google now covers all important areas on the Internet.

To be honest, a part of me wishes to draw a bit of humor from this news chain. After all, it’s not as if Google hasn’t walked this line before. It manages vast amounts of user data, regularly distributes “unfinished advance version(s)” of software and services, and generally gives privacy hawks the willies. On the other hand, we knew this moment would come.

All this conversation about Google this and Google that, Google so easy and Google so smart. The Chrome project aggregates pretty much every concern into one quick install. Naturally the whistle gets blown. This time from Germany’s own BSI. The issue of security can really only be compounded by the fears of a one-stop shop for both corporation and criminal. The premise of those fears: Google Chrome equals Google Concentrate. “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you,” goes the song.

There’s more of this on its way, to be sure. Regardless of intent or execution, words of caution ring more loudly than calm, and with holes in Chrome to fill, it’s easy to see why various folks would prefer people dabble rather than dive. No doubt, this discussion will be an open one for long time hence, and Google as it is known today will never escape the cloud of suspicion that hovers ever more darkly. All the company can do now is…deal.

Just to lay the cards fully out onto the table, I used Google Translate to put articles from both Berliner Zeitung and Spreeblick into poor, algorithmically-arranged English.

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