stop using chromium

TL;DR: google bad, chrome bad

Chromium is the open-source foundation upon which Google's otherwise proprietary Chrome browser is based. Most modern web browsers are also based on this codebase, for example:

Why is that a bad thing?

Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers account for around 90% of the total web browser market share at the moment. This gives Google, a trillion-dollar for-profit advertising firm, immense control over the web and the standards on which it runs, control that it frequently abuses and inarguably should not have.

What kind of abuses?

You name it. To name a few recent examples:

FLoC/Topics API

Google's response to the phasing out of third-party cookies, a system that had legitimate uses which were outweighed by the privacy violations they could be and more frequently were used to commit, was to introduce an API that was only capable of the sketchy parts.

The now-scrapped FLoC, or "Federated Learning of Cohorts" was a system by which users with similar browsing habits, for an unspecified definition thereof, would be grouped algorithmically into "cohorts" which would then be used to target ads to you, essentially making your browser do some of the work that online ad agencies used to do themselves, and more importantly, used to rely on a feature you could easily disable to do.

FLoC received enough well-earned backlash that Google reconsidered its approach, and replaced it with the Topics API, a system that's basically the same as cohorts except that instead of "Federated Learning", the groups are defined manually by humans - the browser compiles a list of "topics" you're interested in based on your browsing history, and sends that to advertisers instead of an algorithmically generated ID.

While theoretically better than third-party cookies, which make identifying you as an individual trivial, neither API addresses the root issue here: maybe you don't want targeted advertising. Maybe you actually value your privacy, and don't want to send arbitrary websites even vague details about what you've been up to online. While other, more privacy-respecting browsers will likely refuse to implement Topics if possible, if you're one of the 90% of people using a Chromium-based browser, you don't get a choice.


JPEG XL is a new image format created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, who you may know as the people who brought you JPEG back in '92. JPEG XL is fully backwards compatible with legacy JPEG, supports features like transparency, lossless compression, and animation, and has far superior compression and support for far larger images with higher color depth than existing formats. It's objectively better in every way than everything it competes with. However...

Google killed JPEG XL, plain and simple. It implemented opt-in support for it in Chrome as an optional flag for a while, and then took it out citing insufficient "interest from the entire ecosystem". The real reason is Google wanted to push its own inferior format, AVIF, its replacement for WebP, which it also created. JPEG XL had near-universal industry support outside of web browsers, but because Google dominates that market, it had the power to kill the format completely for online use.

Web Environment Integrity

Web Environment Integrity is a proposal by Google (or, if you care about semantics, four Google engineers on one of their personal GitHub accounts) for a standard that would allow websites to check with a third-party attester to prove that a "web environment" - in other words, the user's web browser and operating system - is "trustworthy" and has not been "tampered with".

This could be used to block users with untrusted extensions, such as adblockers, installed, and it would automatically lock out any browser or OS that doesn't have support for the standard or isn't trusted by major attesters. It is likely that this would be used to make websites impossible to use with adblockers and similar safety and accessibility tools enabled or on systems not running major proprietary OSes and browsers like Windows and Chrome, whether intentionally or not.

In this way, Web Environment Integrity would act as the ultimate form of DRM for the web, giving governments, rights holders, and corporations like Google and Netflix absolute control over what browsers and operating systems have access to their services. Describing all the problems this would cause could fill a dozen EFF blog posts, so I'll leave it to your imagination here.

Despite this spec being merely a proposal on a Google engineer's personal GitHub, Google is already fast-tracking its implementaion in Chromium, presumably in an attempt to go over the heads of the W3C, the standards body it's a part of, to force its standardization on the basis of "standardizing existing functionality".

So what do I do then?

I implore you to use a browser that's not based on Chromium. If you're on a Mac, you can just use Safari, but otherwise, your only major option is Firefox, or a fork thereof such as LibreWolf.

I get the impression that a lot of less tech-savvy users find the prospect of switching browsers, especially after years of using the same one, to be quite intimidating, but it's really not. Firefox is able to import all your bookmarks, saved passwords, and other browsing data directly from Chrome, and is highly customizable and has a rich ecosystem of extensions and themes so you can make it resemble what you're used to. Mozilla has an easy official guide to import your data from Chrome, and it works with most other browsers as well.

Cool, but I don't care. Let me look at your website.

If you got redirected here, you may be able to circumvent it by configuring your browser to send a different user-agent string. I'd recommend clearing your cache after, in case your browser cached the redirect signal.

I won't explain how to do this myself, both because I don't know what browser you're using and because the idea here is to try to force you to be knowledgable enough about this subject to know better before deciding to use Chromium anyway.