Chrome does not clear your Google, YouTube data even if you tell it to

Cookies are a tool within browsers that allow website operators to save data about users


Reuters/Tech Desk October 23, 2020
Google Chrome’s 2 billion users have been hit by a new threat—a massive spyware operation that secretly attacked via 32 million downloads of malicious extensions. PHOTO: Anadolu Agency

Even if you disable settings in Google Chrome to purge all website cookies and site data when you close the browser it still stores data for itself and YouTube, according to Mac programmer Jeff Johnson who elaborated on this in a blog.

For nearly three decades, cookies placed by relatively unknown companies on nearly every website have fueled advertising on the internet.

Cookies are a tool within browsers that allow website operators to save data about users so that for example, they can keep a particular user logged into a website over multiple days.

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"Perhaps this is just a Google Chrome bug, not intentional behavior, but the question is why it only affects Google sites, not non-Google sites," Johnson wrote. "I've tested using the latest Google Chrome version 86.0.4240.75 for macOS, but this behavior was also happening in the previous version of Chrome. I don't know when it started."

In order to get rid of all site cookies and data every time you quit the browser you can simply go to Settings, then "Privacy and security" and then "Cookies and other site data" and then turn on the "Clear cookies and site data when you quit Chrome."

One would assume that when the settings have been changed, this should work on all sites however according to Johnson, it doesn't.

"Chrome exempts Google's own sites, such as Search and YouTube, from this setting," he wrote. "After I quit and relaunch, the [YouTube] cookies are deleted, but the database storage, local storage, and service workers are still there!"

Johnson had to manually add Google.com and YouTube.com to the list of sites that can never use cookies at all.

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Storing site data allows Google to track users who might have thought they were exempting themselves from such things.

"Many users set Chrome to automatically delete cookies-and-site-data on exit ... to prevent being stalked around the web even though it often requires them to log back into websites the next time they visit due to their per-session cookies being wiped," The Register's Kieren McCarthy noted.

McCarthy reached out to Google for comment, and the search giant claimed it was an innocent mistake.

"We are aware of a bug in Chrome that is impacting how cookies are cleared on some first-party Google websites," Google told The Register.

"We are investigating the issue, and plan to roll out a fix in the coming days."

Google plans to block a common way businesses track online surfers in its Chrome browser within two yearsGoo, endorsing costly changes to how the Web operates as it tries to satisfy increased privacy demands from users.

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