KEY POINTS

  • Consumers are unaware that Google Chrome collects a specific set of data
  • This has been revealed by a cybersecurity expert
  • Google Chrome has a feature, switched on by default, that harvests users' sensitive data

Consumers are now advised to uninstall Google Chrome on their mobile devices after the search engine giant was reportedly discovered sharing sensitive users' data with other tech companies and sites without consumers' knowledge.

Facebook made headlines a few weeks ago over a personal data breach, but according to a cybersecurity expert, consumers who really want to protect their privacy should uninstall Google Chrome on their Android devices. Cybersecurity expert Tommy Mysk told Forbes that the search engine giant collects a specific set of data using an accelerometer.

This feature is permanently switched on and offers data ranging from users' location, lifestyle, tastes and health, to name a few. The cybersecurity expert underlined that since the function is activated by default in the app, all web pages that users open on Google Chrome can collect this set of data even if users use the browser's incognito mode.

Google Chrome Phone Ads are unavoidable but preventable. Pictured: In this photo illustration the app of Google Chrome is displayed on a smartphone on March 3, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The left-wing organizers of the event cited Google's profit-oriented mass collection of personal data about people as well as the gentrification locals fear will accelerate should the Google Campus open. Google is reportedly planning to open a Google Campus, which is meant to create a venue for startups and technological exchange, this summer in a building that once housed an electric relay station in the heart of Kreuzberg. Photo: Getty Images/Carsten Koall

"The way Android handles the accelerometer is much worse. Applications can even read it in the background. My team implemented a pedometer feature in our app. The application was counting the steps even if the application was not running at all. Because the logic was a background service that ran all the time," Mysk revealed in the interview.

In response to the research, Google reportedly told the tech site, "We intentionally limit the resolution of motion sensors in Chrome, and since 2019 we've had controls that allow users to block websites from accessing a device's motion sensors altogether. We take user security and privacy seriously, and we're always working on new ways to improve security and privacy in Chrome."

Mysk mentioned in the interview that the safest thing for consumers to do is to uninstall Google Chrome from their Android devices. However, those who do not want to do this can limit the data the company harvests by deactivating the pedometer from the app.

Tech giants are in the crosshairs of cybersecurity experts, government agencies and malicious actors. Mobile browsers like Google Chrome have been subject to high-level security threats for some time now. Consumers are advised to be vigilant about the latest cybersecurity happenings and to be extra careful when installing apps on their mobile devices, especially those using Android.