A software update that Google released last week has been accused of encouraging abuse by users who are unable to manually disable it.
The new software update, which also included an automated system for users to report suspicious searches and other abusive behaviour, has been widely criticised for not blocking malicious websites, despite Google’s insistence that it does.
But some users say it has also led to a rise in abuse.
The update was made available to users on Tuesday and will remain in effect for two months.
“We believe that Google’s security is of utmost importance to its users, and we continue to work with our partners to ensure that it is available in all of our apps and services,” a Google spokesperson told The Register.
“This update does not provide any additional control over our search engine, nor does it provide any new ways to help users prevent abuse or abuse-related behavior.”
Users who use the update have been told that they will be given the option to disable it by pressing the Google Search Bar icon in the upper-right corner of their browser.
This new option can be disabled by pressing Ctrl + Z. However, users are also asked to ensure their browser is up-to-date before being prompted to do so.
A report by security firm FireEye, which analysed the update, found that users had reported an average of 6,400 suspicious searches per day since the update was released.
The FireEye report was made public on Tuesday after Google published an update to its software and security team, which said it would investigate.
Google has previously apologised for its software update.
In a statement, the company said: “We are aware that there have been a few reports of users experiencing unexpected results from our search algorithm.
We are aware of the problem and are working to address it.”
It added that the problem was likely due to the software update being released in India.
The latest security update is not the first time that Google has been criticised for its approach to internet privacy.
Earlier this year, the search giant faced criticism for its lack of transparency around how it collects and uses user data.
It came under fire for its refusal to disclose how many times users are able to opt out of certain features, including Google+ and the search algorithm, and for its insistence on tracking users’ activity for ad targeting purposes.
Google, which owns and operates Google Search, said the problem had arisen because Google+ was not working as intended.
“Google+ is an ad-supported service that doesn’t collect user data or track users, so it would be difficult to provide that kind of information on the service itself,” a spokesperson told Business Insider at the time.
“Instead, Google is working with the partners who build the service to enable this functionality for the Google+ community.”
A Google spokesperson said the company was continuing to work on a fix for the issue, adding that the company has not yet decided whether or not to roll out a similar update to the other services in the Google app.