And the browser wars continue. As a recent reaction to all the privacy issues surrounding Google Chrome, a German software company SRWare has released a free alternative called Iron.
Aside from the obvious metallic element similarity, Iron is also based on the Chromium source code, with the controversial bits removed.
About the Whole Privacy Thing…
We’ve reviewed Chrome’s much discussed privacy issues before, but here’s a recap.
The unique identifier in Chromium source code is used for the aggregation of customer behavior, as it tracks information like how often a user clicks the back space button and how many web pages are loaded (but not which). The identifier itself is automatically created at the time of install, but the use of the tracking service is entirely optional. Of course, it doesn’t help that the prompt to choose the tracking service or not looks exactly like a user agreement, but we can't really blame anyone but ourselves for not paying attention.
The ID -- which Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, calls a “state-of-the-art tracking system” -- is pretty difficult to get rid of. If deleted, it just resets itself. Even the popular program UnChrome only manages to set the number to a null value rather than eliminate it.
We wonder, if in the midst of all the grumbling about privacy, the folks over at SRWare thought to themselves something along the lines of "Let's strike, while the iron is hot!"
Tin Foil Hat, Anyone?
The German government showed much concern over what kind of power Google would have with the knowledge of how many times their citizens click “back” on any given day. And, thus, Iron was born.
The features that have been deactivated in Iron include:
* Unique user ID
* Alternative error messages
* Sending collected data to Google
* Sending crash reporting to Google
* Google updater
Reportedly, Iron runs faster than Chrome, but also crashes more often. If you’re running either XP or Vista and would like to take your chances, you can download it at Softpedia, and be sure to let us know what you think.
Unless you’re searching for how to single-handedly carry out the next Armageddon, we really don’t think there’s cause for concern over what Google knows about your web practices. For now. The very private Iron feels much like what will be only a temporary go-to browser. But we shall see...