Why did Google go to the effort to create their own browser, named Chrome? If you read Google's own explanation of why they built a browser, here's the essential part of what you'll read:
"At Google, we spend much of our time working inside a browser. We search, chat, email and collaborate in a browser. And like all of you, in our spare time, we shop, bank, read news and keep in touch with friends - all using a browser. People are spending an increasing amount of time online, and they're doing things never imagined when the web first appeared about 15 years ago.
Since we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if you started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build."
Certainly that's an admirable goal of helping end users. That's what puts Google in such an enviable position in the Internet space-- any time that the size or the use of the Internet increases, they stand to gain from the inevitable need we all have to get help in navigating the web. Google is the helpful, ubiquitous traffic sign on the information superhighway.
But is their intention with Chrome completely selfless? I don't think so. One part of Chrome's default homepage is labelled "Search your history".
"...Google Chrome features send limited additional information to Google:
- When you type URLs or queries in the address bar, the letters you type are sent to Google so the Suggest feature can automatically recommend terms or URLs you may be looking for. If you choose to share usage statistics with Google and you accept a suggested query or URL, Google Chrome will send that information to Google as well. You can disable this feature as explained here.
- If you navigate to a URL that does not exist, Google Chrome may send the URL to Google so we can help you find the URL you were looking for. You can disable this feature as explained here."
It seems clear to me that Google is collecting the browsing history of anyone who is using Chrome. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I'll leave up to you. Personal browsing histories which used to be isolated to your own computer would now be stored on Google's own servers as well. What happens to that remote data when you want to delete your own history-- does it stay in Google's datacenters? What might someone malicious do with that information if they ever had access to it?
I know that Google has disclosed this information in their privacy statement, but to me it seems to come close to running afoul of their corporate motto, "Don't be evil".