Google Chrome Secretly Downloads Audio Listener On You Device to Snoop on You
According to a recent report published on the website Privacy Online News, Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party, asserted that Google is secretly downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome. The software is able to send out audio data back to Google, which means that when your computer is running Chrome, Google can secretly listen into conversations in your bedroom. According to Falkvinge, Google is doing this without the permission of the user.
According to Falkvinge, the first evidence that Google might have downloaded an audio software to secretly listen into users’ private conversations came from a bug report pointing out that when one starts Chrome, “it downloads something,” followed by a status report that says “Microphone: Yes” and “Audio Capture Allowed: Yes.”
Falvinge affirms the proof that Google without permission is downloading a “black box” of code into Chrome users’ computers through its open-source Chromium. The code switches on the microphone to enable it to eavesdrop into your room.
The “black box” code is downloaded apparently to activate a feature that enables a search function when you say “Ok, Google,” explains Falvinge. However, the problem is that the code seems to have activated eavesdropping on conversations in your room.
Falkvinge reasons questionably that the voice command is examined by Google’s servers and not by your computer. In other words, it means that Google Chrome has arranged your system to constantly listen into your room and transmit audio data to Google servers without the permission or knowledge of the user.
Google has apparently quietly introduced a switch that allows you to opt out to solve the problem. But given the fact that the entire code was downloaded secretly without the knowledge of users, most users do not know they are storing a secret listening-module in their system and that their rooms have efficiently been wiretapped. Thus, they are unaware of the requirement to opt out to protect their privacy.
An official statement has been released by Google, which according to Falkvinge, made Google accept that they avoided the source code auditing process by downloading and installing wiretapping black-box codes to user’s computers. But Google attempts to excuse itself stating that it’s action were not actually enabling the code. In short, according to Falkvinge, Google wants you to trust them that they will never exploit your trust by enabling an eavesdropping black-box code they downloaded onto your computer without your permission and knowledge.
Falvinge cites that Google’s action once again points out to the need for “hard” switches for all surveillance devices such as microphones and webcams, in addition to “soft” switches that need that you access the software to disable it. He suggests, for example, a physical switch that can be utilized to disable a microphone or a “hard shield” that can be used to block a webcam.
He also replied to efforts by some readers to make the revelation less important that Google Chrome secretly installs an audio listener to users’ systems. Some argued in the comments section of the article that the software only listens when you say “Ok, Google,” but Falkvinge cites that the assumption does not answer to the question of how it listens for you to say “Ok, Google” before its begins to record audio data in your room.
Listening is not similar to sending the audio data to Google servers because it is possible others argued as opposed to Falkvinge’s claim that the system does not send the data until after transmission mechanism has been enabled by the voice command. This is that the code is able to examine the voice command for locally enabling before the process of sending audio data begins.
By watching the outgoing network traffic, a reader said that he was able to establish that the audio listener does not send everything you say to Google before you enable it using the voice command.
However, Falkvinge avoided this argument by highlighting that users are not aware about other keywords, besides “Ok, Google,” that Google has set to start the audio transmission process.
Falkvinge’s argument is closely connected in the context of recent Snowden disclosures of NSA secretly watching over people’s privacy. In the context of the recent disclosures of NSA spying, any possible ability of a tech giant such as Google to spy on people’s privacy should not be taken lightly.
Falkvinge laid stress on the point that readers who cited Google does not transmit until the audio transmission is enabled by the signal “Ok, Google” looked to miss the important fact that without your permission, Google has downloaded to your computer a black-box code that is possible capable of sending audio data from your room to Google servers. Another reader pointed out the danger for users.