Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google.Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on.Everybody else dismissed those points as basically tinfoilhattery – until the Snowden files came out, and it was revealed that precisely everybody involved had abused their technical capability for invasion of privacy as far as was possible.
While a hidden camera should never be your only method of monitoring, it can serve as an extra set of eyes while you’re away from the house.
We reviewed a few popular hidden cameras several months ago, but since then, a handful of hidden cameras have pinged on my radar. My first pick is an app-monitored camera cleverly disguised as a light bulb.
You can look at the code as it looks right now to see that the code doesn’t do this right now.
2) Yes, Chromium is bypassing the entire source code auditing process by downloading a pre-built black box onto people’s computers. We’re concerned with building Google Chrome, the product from Google.
Therefore, you don’t install black boxes onto a Debian or Ubuntu system; you use software repositories that have gone through this source-code audit-then-build process.
Maintainers of operating systems like Debian and Ubuntu use many so-called “upstreams” of source code to build the final product.
But we see reports that the microphone has been activated, and that Chromium considers audio capture permitted.
This was supposedly to enable the “Ok, Google” behavior – that when you say certain words, a search function is activated. Certainly something that enables eavesdropping of every conversation in the entire room, too. The first was to introduce a practically-undocumented switch to opt out of this behavior, which is not a fix: the default install will still wiretap your room without your consent, unless you opt out, and more importantly, know that you to opt out, which is nowhere a reasonable requirement.
“It only listens when you say ‘Ok, Google’.” (Ok, so how does it know to start listening just before I’m about to say ‘Ok, Google? It won’t really listen unless you check that box.” (Perhaps.
’) “It’s no big deal.” (A company stealth installs an audio listener that listens to every room in the world it can, and transmits audio data to the mothership when it encounters an unknown, possibly individually tailored, list of keywords – and it’s no big deal!? We don’t know, Google just downloaded a black box onto my computer.
If you think this is an excusable and responsible statement, raise your hand now.