It has recently been exposed that Google’s Chrome has been remotely installing a component via the Chromium browser which allows your computer to perform as an “open microphone,” and largely without users’ permission. Though Google claims it is a tool meant to support its new “OK, Google” hotword detection, privacy advocates claim the component is involuntarily activated without users’ knowledge. Once installed, some have noticed their webcams or microphone indicator lights turn off and on randomly, during which time the listening component is active.
This poses a huge issue for the present and future of privacy. Essentially, Google could be listening to your private conversations and collecting data from them, which are processed in text form. Without knowledge of what this “black box” code is actually capable of, users run the risk of their personal information and conversations being shared with anyone in the world instantly, without their consent. Users must opt-out to prevent the tool from listening in to any and all audio. Privacy advocates claim this is unreasonable, because users must opt-out and be aware they have to opt-out in order to disable the feature, rather than the normal protocol of having to opt-in first, voluntarily.
Nonetheless, Google claims they are not listening to your private chats, and the component is in no way attempting to breach your privacy, it is simply a tool to make talk-to-text and search easier. What do you think?