As reported by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, privacy advocates and open source developers are livid after discovering that the installation of Google’s browsing software, Google Chrome, comes with an added capability: it allows remote technicians to listen in on conversations held near computers where the browser is installed.
The capability was first identified by open source developers, who noticed that the Chromium browser that Chrome is based on remotely installed audio surveillance code enabling computers to be tapped.
As noted by the paper:
It was designed to support Chrome’s new “OK, Google” hotword detection – which makes the computer respond when you talk to it – but was installed, and, some users have claimed, it is activated on computers without their permission.
“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room,” Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party founder, wrote in a blog post. “Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by… an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions.”
Installs without your permission or knowledge
When computer users install Google’s Chrome browser, the feature is installed by default. Open source advocates are also upset about it being installed with the open source variant Chromium; the listening code is considered “black box” and not a part of the open source auditing process.
“We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does,” Falkvinge observed.
Full article: Google secretly installs audio snooping program on Chrome browsers to listen to your private conversations (Natural News)