chrome open source surreptitiously turns on mike and sends eavesdropped data to google
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.