OK Google, stop installing software on my computer without my permission

ok-google

Google Chrome is a great browser. Yes, it eats a lot of RAM and often pretty slow compared to other browsers. But the browser does indeed provide a great range of features, including extension support, an impressive Developer Tool, and much more. However, there are somethings on the browser that aren’t really appreciatable.

According to some new reports, Chromium (the open source browser where Google Chrome is based) includes some new code that automatically installs a software that can listen and record users’ audio without permission. According to Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party founder, Google’s code downloaded a “black box of code” which apparently enables users’ laptop’s microphone which can record the users’ audio:

Obviously, your own computer isn’t the one to analyze the actual search command. Google’s servers do. 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.

This isn’t OK, Google.

Listening to a users’ audio without permission is pretty much a joke and, of course, a privacy concern. And when it comes to giants like Google, the story gets even sketchier.

It’s worth pointing out that Google is claiming that the program only gets activated when a user enables it. The tech giant stated:

Yes, Chromium is bypassing the entire source code auditing process by downloading a pre-built black box onto people’s computers. But that’s not something we care about, really. Anybody who uses our code for their own purpose takes responsibility for it. When this happens in a Debian installation, it is not Google Chrome’s behavior, this is Debian Chromium’s behavior. It’s Debian’s responsibility entirely.

Despite Google’s comments, Rick Falkvinge recommends users to manually disable their microphone and cameras as the program could still listen to the users’ audio without their consent.

If you don’t want Chrome to listen to your audio, here’s a suggestion: switch the default search engine to Bing – or start using other browsers.

Source: The Guardian, Privacy Online News – Via: Neowin

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