Chrome to ditch unique ID, sort of

It's mostly sizzle and not a lot of steak, but Google plans to remove the unique ID that had been annoying data privacy advocates after the first update check.

In a recent white paper on security in Chrome, Google let it slip that one of the most controversial features it's added to the Chromium source code will be going away after the first program update check. The white paper (PDF) states that the "unique ID," which Google says it introduced to Chrome as a way to keep track of installation success, will be deleted after the program checks for updates for the first time. This means that if you run Chrome immediately after installing, the ID will be deleted within minutes of a successful install.

Google reiterated previous statements in the white paper that it uses the randomly-generated identification tag to keep track of an installation's success and that it isn't associated with any of the user's personal information. However, the unique ID has been a lightning rod to privacy concerns despite a lack of evidence proving claims that the company had been using it to collect personally identifiable data.

Until the change is implemented, users can install the UnChrome add-on, which will remove the ID for them. It is also located in the Local State file in the Chrome installation folder (C:\User\[Name]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome for Vista and Windows 7 users) as user_experience_metrics.user_idkey.

While there are still concerns about Google and data privacy issues, it's telling that Google chose to respond to this largely symbolic stress point rather than tackle more serious issues. The white paper also points out Chrome's privacy behavior and options for the Omnibar, 404 errors that redirect to, local storage of the phishing and malware blacklist, promotional tags, and usage statistics. There are few changes, if any, in those fields, and the white paper serves more as a reminder that they're there than anything else.

(Via The H)