Google said that alternative Chromium-based browsers are using its infrastructure and abusing Chrome Sync to store their users’ data, bookmarks and browsing history on Google’s servers without permission. The discovery, according to the search giant, was made during a recent audit.
To prevent future abuse, Google said it plans to limit some of the APIs (features) Chrome includes in Chromium starting March 15, 2021, making them unavailable to any third-party open source browsers.
This will not only affect Chrome Sync, but also features like spell checker, contacts, translation, and so on. All of these APIs are implemented in the Chromium source code, the open source framework that underpins the Chrome browser. Under normal circumstances, other companies that build browsers based on Chromium code will usually remove these APIs and create their own counterparts that they can have full control over.
Google found that some third-party Chromium-based browsers were plugging in these specific Chrome features and integrating them into their offshoots. This led companies to abuse Google’s servers to store their own data, cutting development costs at the expense of the search giant. Google has not named the Chromium-based browsers that have abused its systems, and the list of Chromium-based products is too long to make assumptions: big names like Microsoft Edge, Opera, Brave or Yandex Browser, and small projects like Blisk, Colibri, etc. Torch.
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