Google has started testing a new “Sign in to Chrome” prompt that shows up when users of the company’s browser sign into Gmail. Google has confirmed this is a test, but wouldn’t go into any details. A Google spokesperson instead gave TNW a boilerplate statement: “We’re always experimenting with new features, but have nothing new to share at this time.”
Not everyone is seeing this prompt: you need to be using Chrome and not already be signed into the browser. Even then, it only shows up once or twice per account as this is still an experiment. Once you enter your Google credentials, instead of taking you to your Gmail inbox, you are taken to an intermediary page that looks like this:
Notice that the first option is clearly the one Google wants users to click, likely without thinking. It’s in blue and resembles your typical accept/yes/okay button. Furthermore, if you click on “Advanced settings,” you’re greeted with a popup that starts the synchronization process without warning.
The good news is that there’s an Undo button. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work completely: if you hit the blue button accidentally, check your account settings and make sure Google Chrome doesn’t still have “full access” as you might expect.
We first started seeing reports of this new prompt last week, but we didn’t see it show up on our own accounts. This week it did, so we started investigating, although there weren’t many accounts to choose from since most TNW employees already link their Google accounts to Chrome.
The prompt did not appear for me when I signed into my Google account on other services such as Google Calendar. It’s easy to see, however, that the prompt can be added to all of the company’s products, not just Gmail.
Google isn’t doing anything “wrong” here, but privacy advocates will see this as a slippery slope. Most Internet users don’t realize they are handing over their local data to Google by clicking “Sign in to Chrome.” Many probably wouldn’t care either, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be properly informed about what exactly is happening.
Adding an opt-in button in Gmail would be much better than this intermediate page. Thankfully this is still a test, and hopefully it ends up failing. That would be surprising though, given that Google is very keen on continuously integrating all its products under one account, both for user convenience and for gathering more data about you to generate more revenue.
Top Image Credit: Johannes Eisele/Getty Images