[ NNSquad ] Mozilla Says Chrome's Latest Feature Enables Surveillance [+ my comments]

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Lauren Weinstein

Sep 23, 2021, 11:30:08 AM9/23/21
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Mozilla Says Chrome's Latest Feature Enables Surveillance [+ my comments]

OK, let's talk about this a bit. The issue here is that this new
feature will provide user idle time info back to sites, if the user
has accepted the permission prompt for this data (much like existing
mic and camera access prompts). There is an argument that since the
data is not returned unless the user permits it for a site, the
privacy issues are de minimis (that is, trivial and not of concern).

There are at least three factors that call this into question. There
is indeed potential usefulness of this data for sites, but the abuse
potential is also very real. The "user permission" aspect is not
clear-cut, because:

1) Busy users may quickly give permission to the pop-up when it appears,
not fully realizing what it means or its implications.

2) Some sites may refuse to function for users who do NOT give the
permission or otherwise unnecessarily hobble their use.

3) Related to (2): Employers or others may *require* this permission
be granted to provide them with a simple browser-based way to track
employee, etc. idle time, in a manner that is likely to be
misrepresentative in various ways.

Overall, this feature appears to bring more negatives than positives,
and I believe that Google should consider not moving forward with this
functionality in Chrome. --Lauren--


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Request invite to my private discussion forum: g-forum...@vortex.com
Lauren Weinstein (lau...@vortex.com): https://www.vortex.com/lauren
Lauren's Blog: https://lauren.vortex.com
Founder: Network Neutrality Squad: https://www.nnsquad.org
PRIVACY Forum: https://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
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