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Did Google spy on Chrome users with secret audio listeners?


eye of google

Google has been accused of spying on users with audio listeners, as claimed by Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Pirate Party.

According to Falkvinge, Google has been “stealth downloading” listening software onto every computer that runs Chrome.

What’s more, he suggests the software automatically “transmits audio data back to Google.”

Here’s the in-brief: Google admits a “black box” of code was built into Chromium – that’s the open-source web browser project that Google Chrome’s code is based on.

This “black box” of code, which is impossible for users and developers to audit, was downloading, and allegedly executing, a feature that activates the “OK Google” search function.

However, the feature is claimed to have been 'listening' in order to hear the phrase prior to activating the search function.

Google claims that this software wasn’t actually activated by default, and that the bug has been fixed as of the latest version of Chromium, which no longer downloads the code as standard.

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But is Google actually spying on us? It’s hard to say, as there’s no real way of knowing what’s inside the “black box” of code.

At the very least, it’s not a great move for Google to include unreadable code in an open-source project.

Open-source communities have a level of trust with software providers, with one of the main appeals of open-source software being that you can see all aspects of the code.

Unfortunately, in this instance, Chromium was downloading, and purportedly executing, code that was impossible to view, which is a breach of trust.

“Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome, had abused its position as trusted upstream to insert lines of source code that bypassed [the] audit-then-built process, and which downloaded and installed a black box of unverifiable executable code directly onto computers, essentially rendering them compromised, explained Falkvinge.

He continued: “We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does. But we see reports that the microphone has been activated, and that Chromium considers audio capture permitted.”

Is this another tinfoil hat classic, or is Google really checking up on our private conversations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


June 22, 2015, 6:08 pm

I think if google admits to this black box program and this code is not available to all to see what it is actually doing then this will have serious complications for the company on a massive scale. Trust is so vital especially in today's pitiful society where the very meaning of the word as all but virtually extinct. It does not bode well when we hear and learn about these types of issues and it usually means a damning result.

It just seems to me that google is shrouded in secrecy and deception it is almost like being in a scifi cover up movie living in the google world. If trust is the issue then best not to use the source ie google if this is the situation that is, and I am not telling everyone to avoid google just voicing and thought or opinion.

Saleem Akbar

June 22, 2015, 7:52 pm

Well, Google was made by the CIA, so hardly surprising!

See https://medium.com/insurge-...

Mere Adviser

June 23, 2015, 9:15 am

If this black box is not about collecting data of some sort, then what is it for? Google should come out and be transparent.


June 23, 2015, 12:38 pm

The voice activation feature for “OK Google” searching is currently available on Chrome.

had to fix it for you i am using chrome Version 43.0.2357.130 m

and it does work

nunya biznez

June 23, 2015, 1:06 pm

yes it was intentional and they are still capturing video and audio. google is a front company of the U.S. CIA, youtube and facebook are companion products that all work towards and support the undermining of privacy rights.
Ask yourself, how can a company that makes no product and provides a "free" service stay in business. Ad revenue doesn't generate the billions of reported dollars as advertised by google. Furthermore the U.S. budget has large holes where trillions of dollars disappear.


June 23, 2015, 1:18 pm

One problem... gaping hole rather, in this entire article: OK Google works in Chrome and functions as expected. Has for months.


June 26, 2015, 6:09 pm

*raises eyebrow*

Ilya Geller

June 27, 2015, 5:47 pm

Yes, Google Chrome spying on you.
Because Google only technology is SQL, Structured Query Language.
SQL obtains patterns from queries and statistics how often they and the queries occur, and Google projects this all on data, adding only one novelty - what is called 'popularity' (how often people that use certain patterns stop at certain data, documents, webpages) to the standard SQL.
The difference between what Google apply to Internet and what IBM-Oracle use for local databases is only the above 'popularity'.
Therefore, Google must to harvest popularity by all possible and often illegal means, violating people privacy in all ways Google can.

However, there is another way. I discovered and patented how to structure any data without the queries: Language has its own Internal parsing, indexing and statistics and can be structured internally. For instance, there are two sentences:

a) 'Sam!’
b) 'A loud ringing of one of the bells was followed by the appearance of a smart chambermaid in the upper sleeping gallery, who, after tapping at one of the doors, and receiving a request from within, called over the balustrades -'Sam!'.'

Evidently, that the 'Sam' has different importance into both sentences, in regard to extra information in both. This distinction is reflected as the phrases, which contain 'Sam', weights: the first has 1, the second – 0.08; the greater weight signifies stronger emotional ‘acuteness’.
First you need to parse obtaining phrases from clauses, restoring omitted words, for sentences and paragraphs.
Next, you calculate Internal statistics, weights; where the weight refers to the frequency that a phrase occurs in relation to other phrases.
After that data is indexed by common dictionary, like Webster, and annotated by subtexts.
This is a small sample of the structured data:
this - signify - <> : 333333
both - are - once : 333333
confusion - signify - <> : 333321
speaking - done - once : 333112
speaking - was - both : 333109
place - is - in : 250000
To see the validity of technology - pick up any sentence.

Do you have a pencil?

My technology brings the people 101% privacy: being structured information searches for people itself, they stay passive and invisible on Internet; information searches based on the people's profiles of structured data. These profiles are initiated and created within the people's phones and computers, they are the people's property, not Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. And even being stolen they cannot reveal any information on the people - see the sample above, which is not yet encrypted?

Google is obsolete and out of business, as well as all search engines, all marketing and advertising on-line agencies, on-line trade places as Amazon and eBay.

Spying on Internet will not pay off, it lost its sense. We all are free!

John Davies

July 19, 2015, 10:03 pm

Clenches asshole.


August 13, 2016, 9:39 am

Hi hey I was wondering, you sound pretty smart and perhaps you would know where to look for any reliable proof of this.. I heard that Russia and Turkey, 08/11/16 received all the Military, banking, personnel
, ALL our TOP SECRET INFORMATION, IN EVERY AREA OF THE GOVERNMENT, CIA, FBI, BANK CODES, LAUNCH CODES etc. via: NATO and Obama?... do you think you could look into this? It sure is not main stream news YET.... thanks


November 14, 2016, 1:29 pm

Jew World Order spying.

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