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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Google Eavesdropping Tool Installed On Computers Without Permission

Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer.

First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.

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,” said Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party founder, 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.”

The feature is installed by default as part of Google’s Chrome browser. But open source advocates are up in arms about it also being installed with the open source variant Chromium, because the listening code is considered to be “black box”, not part of the open source audit process.

“We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does,” said Falkvinge.

Google responded to complaints via its developer boards. It said: “While we do download the hotword module on startup, we do not activate it unless you opt in to hotwording.”

However, reports from developers indicate otherwise.

More here


Anonymous said...

Just found out not long ago that this was turned ON on my computer and was being actively used. This is so completely hurtful on so many levels. I have been given the option of prosecuting the individual who has done this. Everyone should know that electronic devices are invasive and can be used against you. I am NOW almost totally off of all devices and don't plan on returning any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Google cannot be trusted.
The Chrome browser and the open-source version Chromium are not on my computer, and won't be.
I use Firefox (and I'm not even certain how safe it is.)
There are other browsers available that are safe.
You can block google on your computer so the google website cannot be accessed by programs.
You can also shut off the camera and mic in the BIOS so they are not available to ANY programs.
I don't use them, and now nobody else can, either. :-)

Anonymous said...

This isn't a GOOGLE product. It's a Debian product. Don't blame Google on this one.

Anonymous said...

8:50...what are BIOS? How do you shut off the camera and the mic?