Have you noticed that websites are offering you a friendly new way to sign-in with Google? Try Investing.com. When you hit the site, Google displays a popup recommending that you sign in the top right. If you’re on a phone, the prompt takes up almost half your screen. And if you’re using Chrome, you can sign in with a single click, the fastest way to make the popup go away. Don’t have an account on Investing.com? Google will automatically make one for you.
It’s convenient if you want Google to harvest data about your behavior, or if you just want an easy way to sign in, or both. But for anyone who’d rather not, this new wave of popups may be an unwelcome intrusion that seems difficult to evade. There’s an easy fix. Download any DuckDuckGo app or extension, and you can kiss those popups bye-bye.
DuckDuckGo, the internet’s favorite private search engine, is rolling out a new feature across its service Wednesday called Google Sign-in Pop-up Protection, It’s on by default, saving your eyes and your time from Google’s nagging. You can still sign in with Google whenever you want, you just don’t have to deal with Google’s prompts.
“They popups are invasive, annoying and they undermine user privacy,” said Peter Dolanjski, director of product for DuckDuckGo. “Google is employing a dark pattern by pushing you to sign in when you might not have otherwise. When you do, Google is is tracking what you do on those websites and linking it to your identity.”
Google Sign In is nothing new, but the popups are a subtle but pervasive change to the web. You can find them on Booking.com, Pinterest, Reddit, Trulio, Zillo and countless more. “We believe google is pitching the popups to these websites as a win-win,” Dolanjski said. “If they can get more users to sign in, it opens up more data collection both for Google and publishers, and it lets Google better target users with ads.” That means more money for everyone involved, except you.
Google didn’t respond a request for comment.
Is what Google is doing the worst business practice in the world? Absolutely not. But there are situations where it undermines user choice. If you’re using a browser or an extension to protect your privacy (DuckDuckGo, for example), those protections go out the window. When you’re signed in, Google has everything it needs to spy on you.