Microsoft’s new Edge browser is apparently importing data from Chrome and Firefox during setup without asking users about it. A recent Reddit post that has since been deleted pointed out that unexpected behaviour (via Windows Central), and it got a lot of responses from Edge users complaining about the browser quietly gathering data from Chrome and Firefox during the first run experience.
To be clear, Microsoft Edge does ask users to import data from other browsers during install time, but the browser apparently does so in the background before users agree to it. However, imported bookmarks apparently disappear when users deny Edge the permission to import any data. Here’s how Reddit user orcusmorcus described the problem:
I just installed Edge today for testing, and I noticed my bookmarks from Firefox appear in the background/browser BEHIND the import acceptance dialog. The bookmarks disappeared after I said I didn't want it to import anything. Obviously it still went looking before asking!
Speaking to Windows Central, Microsoft confirmed that its Edge browser imports data from other browsers during setup, but that users can discard it. The company also recommends users to not terminate the browser during the first run experience otherwise imported data may not be fully deleted:
During the first run experience, the customer is presented the opportunity to keep or discard the imported data. This data is discarded if they choose not to proceed with the import. If a customer terminates the new Microsoft Edge browser prematurely during the first run experience (e.g. using Task Manager), residual data may not be fully deleted. We recommend customers not shut down the setup process prematurely to ensure an expected result.
Overall, Microsoft didn't really acknowledge the problem, while importing data from other browsers in the background is clearly a red flag for privacy-conscious users. That's really unfortunate for a new browser that remains a distant challenger in a market dominated by Google Chrome. If Microsoft Edge does offer some good privacy features, a recent study comparing back-end data exchange among some of the most popular web browsers revealed that Edge shared more details of visited web pages with backend servers compared to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.