Google buffs Chrome privacy in new beta

Chrome 4.1 beta for Windows has added more control over privacy when browsing, and plug-in-free translation of pages

Google has improved privacy features and introduced automated translation of foreign-language web pages in a new version of its Chrome 4.1 beta browser for Windows.

Users can now control how the browser handles cookies, images, JavaScript, plug-ins and pop-ups on a site-by-site basis, the company said on the release of the new beta version on Tuesday. For example, they can decide whether to allow cookies only from trusted sites.

"Browsers are perhaps the most important piece of software for computer users today," said Google's Munich engineering director Wieland Holfelder in a statement. "With the new release, we also give users even more choice and control over their own privacy while surfing the web."

The new privacy features in Chrome include an option to automatically clear all cookies once a browser is closed. The features have been added to the browser's existing 'incognito' mode, which wipes traces of website visits and downloads.

Privacy in Chrome has been criticised in the past by security researchers. Robert Hansen, chief executive of SecTheory, said in August 2009 that Google's Safe Browsing blacklisting software, which is built into Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, could allow users to be tracked.

Safe Browsing is included in the new beta, according to Google's Chrome blog.

The new browser beta also offers translation of web pages without the need to use a plug-in, Google said.

"When the language of the webpage you're viewing is different from your preferred language setting, Chrome will display a prompt asking if you'd like the page to be translated for you," Google said. "Users can also set an option to automatically translate all pages they encounter in a particular language."

As part of the beta, Transport for London (TfL) has worked with Google to develop an extension that will allow people to access travel information..

"Giving Londoners instant access to travel information is something we take very seriously," said Jon White, principal marketing planner for TfL, in the Google statement. "Our Chrome extension makes it even easier having instant access to live travel news from right within the browser, is a great way for Londoners to 'check before you travel' and one we think will be adopted across the capital."

Chrome is the only major browser to gained market share in the past month, according to Net Applications. Chrome went from 5.22 percent of the global market in January to 5.61 percent in February. By comparison, Internet Explorer dropped from 62.12 percent to 61.58 percent in the same time scale, while Firefox went from 24.43 percent to 24.23 percent.


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