Looks like I made the right decision

I looked at Google Chrome when it first came out, during a period that I was unhappy with Mozilla for one thing or another (needless to say, aIEeee was never an option), and ended up never installing it because of a clause in the user agreement where Google retained the right to reach out over the net and turn off any plugins they chose, ostensibly for ‘security’ and ‘stability’ reasons. That was a book-slammer, so I never even began the install.

Looks like it was the right thing to do for even more reasons than I thought. Apparently there’s a bug in Chrome — one that they’ve known about since last year, have known how to fix since last October, and still haven’t updated the Chrome code with — that allows Chrome to access a microphone attached to your computer and listen in on… well, on whatever you might be chatting about within its range.

Now, there are always bugs. The only code that’s bug-free is very tiny code. Large programming projects — like, say, an internet browser — always have bugs in them, and all you can do is hope you’ve got the vast majority of them before going gold. Inevitably, something that no one even considered possible slips through.

That’s fine. That happens. You fix the bug, patch the software, and hope that was the last of them.

But Google has fixed the bug… and sat on it. Their explanation? They say they’re waiting for direction from the W3C on what to do next, and that the current iteration of Chrome is fine because it’s still “W3C compliant”.

Yeah, right. It also remains vulnerable to allowing what I can only describe as a pretty chilling invasion of personal privacy. We have — or we should have — realistic expectations of our online privacy, and we can take steps to protect ourselves, but this is not something that falls under that. If you haven’t started any voice-recognition software, you have a fair and reasonable expectation that your computer is not listening to your voice, or recording it, or transmitting it elsewhere.

Google evidently doesn’t care about that. One wonders how long they would have sat on this if someone else hadn’t blown the whistle on them.

It really is hardly worth asking, “Whatever happened to “Don’t be evil”?” anymore, is it? The only shocking thing left from their behavior is that they have the unmitigated gall to try to blame the World Wide Web consortium for their failure to patch their own software.

And for your searching needs, may I recommend Duck Duck Go instead?


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